Everyone has someone inspiring in their life. Maybe it’s a family member, a friend, an associate, or a teacher. My inspiration comes from my wonderful music teacher, Shevy Smith. Shevy grew up in Kansas, and always wrote songs while riding her horse, using her clock radio to record them once she got home. At only 15, she began recording songs in New York with a producer. By 18, she had moved to Nashville and signed a big time deal. 200 shows a year, for six years, Shevy and her dog Vivian toured the country, traveling to every state but Alaska. In 2008, she moved to California, and still lives here. Shevy’s program, AWWP, inspires all ages to get involved. AWWP is a organization built by Shevy, who takes poems from women in Afghanistan who aren’t allowed to write, and turns them into songs with her students. While interviewing her, I got an inight into Shevy’s mind.
“How do you keep your students involved and engaged?”
“I don’t have to try very hard. I’m very fortunate to have students who want to learn and fight for equality,” Shevy responded. “I like to think I inspire my students, but in reality, you guys inspire me.”
“Is it difficult to balance personal life, work, and your dogs?”
Shevy says her dogs are always first priority. Time constraints are always a challenge, but luckily my students and their parents are super flexible. My personal life is mostly my students and opportunities. Whenever I leave, the parents understand that it is to boost my teaching skills. “[if there is an earlier appointment] I will just get up sooner to walk [the dogs], honestly [that’s] why I don’t have a boyfriend, I have them.”
“How do you stay opened with your students without oversharing?”
“Tricky question, want to help you but I still [need] to stay a teacher who’s an adult.” Shevy says that if she ever comes across a point where there’s something she would do that she couldn’t share with her students, she shouldn’t be doing it. She also says that she can differentiate what to tell her students that would be useful, helpful information, from things that wouldn’t benefit them.
“When/How did you get into AWWP?”
Shevy traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq in 2005, and five years later when she found herself recovering from some bad injuries, she promised once she was well again to start and help other women. In 2012, she held her first living room fundraiser. The performance was at the Annenberg Space for Photography and included the songs her girls wrote from poems by the women. This was the first performance I was included in.
“Any new projects coming?”
Shevy does another program called the Passerine Project. She goes to less fortunate schools and brings students together to create amazing music pieces. She’s done a couple in New York so far, but she’s expanding to London this June!
Shevy’s work is so amazing, and hopefull will expand even more to reach out to less fortunate women.