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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Amelia Kashian
Amelia Kashian
Features Editor

Being passionate is one of the best parts of being human, and I am glad that writing has helped me recognize that. I have been writing stories since I was a little girl, and over...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Shawn Pander: Singer/songwriter to entertain UpFront crowd

When Shawn Pander was just five years old, he would tag along with his father to work at a used car lot. One of his dad’s employees, James, was a homeless man who played guitar and one summer, James gave Pander lessons. Near summer’s end, Pander’s dad was laid off, and the guitar lessons came to a halt. At their last lesson, James gave Pander his one possession — the guitar — and told him to go out in the world and make something of himself. He promised he would.

Nearly 25 years later, Pander has made good on his promise and the use of those impromptu guitar lessons. Pander, a 30-year-old singer/songwriter and Houston native, has three albums under his belt and is gaining popularity across the country with his unique mix of folk and soul music.

On Nov. 27, Pander, whose sound has been likened to the Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer, will make a tour stop in Marquette to perform and share his songs at the UpFront and Company.

“[My music’s] kind of got a Southern thing,” he said. “It’s kind of folky. When I grew up, I always played jazz throughout college and I’ve always been influenced by the Motown style. So when you mix it all together, it’s kind of folk-soul I guess.”

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Pander added that he uses his music and lyrics to chronicle life experiences and be someone who his audiences can connect with.

“I try to be relatable,” Pander said. “A lot of times, people will say to me, ‘I really got what you were talking about and it’s helped me through this or that time.’ I try to tell stories, and hopefully they are stories that people can relate to and want to listen to or it helps them through something.”

People seem to have no problem relating with Pander. His popularity grew after he made two appearances on the popular talk show “Dr. Phil” with Dr. Phil McGraw. Pander said he landed the first gig because one of the show’s producers happened to be a regular at his shows. When McGraw wanted to air a show about what life was really like in the entertainment industry, the opportunity for Pander came knocking.

“They had me, an actor and a comedian and we came on and [the producers] followed us around for a day and said, ‘Well here’s what it’s like to live in Hollywood and here is what these people go through.'”

After his appearances, Pander sold over 3,000 albums in just 48 hours. While Pander said the show was a remarkable experience, the 6’4 Texan host, McGraw, was a force to be reckoned with.

“He’s pretty intimidating,” Pander said. “He’s a no nonsense guy and when he walks into the room, you can feel it. He’s definitely a very powerful guy.”

While Pander has performed everywhere from Dr. Phil’s stage to Hollywood and New York City, Tuesday night’s performance will be his first time in the Upper Peninsula.

“I hope it’s not snowing, because I’m driving around in a little Volkswagen,” he said. “I’m going to have to stop and buy some sweaters.”

Even when Pander found out that snow had already made an appearance in Marquette, his outlook on his upcoming performance was optimistic.

“I love to play for new audiences,” he said. “This is going to be a new audience and a new area for me and I think there’s always something exciting about that. It’s a chance to be heard by a new crowd.”

And after over 20 years and countless performances, what has become of the guitar from James?

“I still have it,” Pander said. “I actually write a lot of songs on it.”

Pander’s performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday and CDs will be available for purchase following the show.

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