photo by: Sanjay Parikh

We will not fall because we have each other.

“There’s something very important inside of this. It’s a necessary album that was written from a very real place.

You can’t lose sight of yourself, what you believe in and what you want in your own life. You’ll be the first person you see in the morning when you look in the mirror. If you can’t make that person happy then you won’t make anyone else happy. But you can’t forget that you are human. You are going to make mistakes. This record is about not being afraid to fail,” Brent Smith told me in our first interview, a month prior to the release of ATTENTION ATTENTION.

Upon hanging up the phone, I simply sat down for second to collect myself. The conversation was deeply moving and I was struck by just how much this record meant to Smith and his Shinedown bandmates. They were on tour during this interview, and on the way to a show in South Dakota. The phone reception was poor, but Smith found a corner in the tour bus where he was able to connect. So,… he had their bus driver pull over in order to have the conversation with me.

I will never forget that gesture as one of great respect, but furthermore, like the exclamation mark on the album cover, it emphasized the belief within this collection of 14 powerful songs.

Smith and I then do a follow-up interview about 16 months later. At this time, (and after seeing Shinedown live a month earlier), I find myself fixated on this concept that ATTENTION ATTENTION is working. But what exactly did I mean by that?

“We are practicing what we preach in ATTENTION ATTENTION with not being afraid to fail. You are not going to be defined by your failures, you’ll be defined by the fact that you refused to give up. Maybe people find themselves in this record and that’s a reason why it has resonated,” Smith says about halfway through this conversation.

The aftermath of second interview about the impact the record is having then makes it all click as I engage deeper with the great (fellow) fans of Shinedown nation. I witness signs within every crowd that thank the band for the light they have injected into their lives. I then have conversations with a few individually, and now I know exactly what I mean when I say this record is “working”. There is a beautiful ripple effect being generated from Shinedown’s sincere artistic approach that often dates back to previous records. Everyone has their moment, and ATTENTION ATTENTION is picking that moment up and now carrying it through. It all starts with songs, and it’s visible how true Smith’s words are when he says they are practicing what they preach. The emotion on people’s faces in the crowd come together and forms the glow that glides upon the crest of the wave.

With that in mind, I had the pleasure of collaborating with 11 individuals from Shinedown nation who here, courageously share their own story of how Shinedown helped them “Get Up”.

photo by: Sanjay Parikh

Kristine Witthuhn: Belvidere, IL

Shinedown had pulled me out of some serious spots in my life. One of which was my Mom dealing with her cancer diagnosis. It just hit me really hard and I hit an awful depression. Shinedown pulled me through. Not long ago I was dealing with another bought of bad depression to the point I wanted to take my life. I almost did. I had everything planned. Then I remembered I had a show coming up where I was seeing Shinedown. During that show, Brent did one of his messages that stuck with me, “Get rid of the fear. Get rid of the doubt. You matter. How do I know? Because I believe in you.” I can’t thank these guys enough for what they have done for me. I been a fan since 2010 and have seen them an upwards of 20 times in the past decade. No one really understands when I say, “They are more than just a band.” Some of the songs that mean the most to me were: “Second Chance”, “Unity”, “Get Up”, and “Cut the Cord.”

Teena Morris: Dehli, Ontario Canada

Shinedown definitely helped me keep my sanity when I was in the process of getting out of a toxic, 25-year relationship. “Cut the Cord” became my mantra, my motto, my everything when I got away. At my first meet and greet I told Brent that they seem to come out with the perfect song, with the perfect lyrics at the perfect time, at least for me they do. I would probably be dead or in jail if it wasn’t for their help through their music during that horrible time

Willee Andres: St. George, Utah

The day I heard the song “Diamond Eyes”, it gave me the motivation to pack a bag and head to rehab the next day. “Fist first philosophy”!!

photo by: Sanjay Parikh

Elaine Allen Emrich: North Port, FL

I had just dropped my husband off at rehab. He had to come off of pain killers the doctor prescribed for his back injury. I was pretty depressed because I repeatedly asked the doctor to prescribe medication that wasn’t addictive. He wouldn’t listen. My husband was losing his benefits and his mind for that matter. I dropped the top down in his Mustang and as I sat in traffic, the song “Miracle” came on. I looked around, took a deep breath and said, these guys are talking directly to me. Stop feeling sorry for this situation and be the best wife you can to your husband who is suffering. Pray for him, love him and be a miracle for him. And that’s what I did. Shinedown helps me daily. I’m a reporter. When I have to write something really serious, I turn put on my headphones and listen to them. Even the “Sound of Madness” calms my thoughts and helps me articulate what needs to be written. In 2020, I’m taking my five and seven-year-old grandchildren, their parents and my niece to see Shinedown. I’m surprising them as a Christmas gift. My grandson has already seen them twice at age seven. I brought him earlier this year because he got straight A’s on his report card. He had an absolute blast. He asked me to text them at the concert, so they would play “Enemies.” When the intro of the song came on, his eyes lit up. He said, “they got your text.” I smiled.

Christina Calbone: Essington, PA.

I had a crippling fear of large crowds. A good friend went with me to a Smith & Myers show and I knew I wanted to see the entire band, but the idea of an arena made me physically ill. Tickets for the Hershey (2019) show went on sale and I bought one – fully expecting to ‘eat’ the cost of the ticket due to my fear. (Had to go solo). But I got myself to the venue and I… LOVED. EVERY. MINUTE.

Afterward, sitting in my car, I thought to myself ” What did I just see?!?” “What was that?!?” When I got home, I bought tickets for nine more shows, not even caring that I’d probably be solo.
Thanks to the universe being cooperative, I was able to see them 11 times this year! (Yes, all solo)
I keep Shinedown music in my head when going into a ‘crowd’ situation and all is well!!

Fawnda Renae Brock: Gulf Shores, AL

Shinedown helped me through what has been the darkest part of my life so far. Their music inspired me to find my way out of a living hell and take back my life. I’m now in therapy learning how to do just that!! These four men are not only amazing musicians, they are my Saviors!!

photo by: Sanjay Parikh

Chantal Schade: Germany

Shinedown formed my world into a happier one. A few months ago, I was searching for some new rock song and I found a playlist named rock. Then there was this song “How Did You Love”. I really loved it from the very first day. After some weeks I started to listen to ATTENTION ATTENTION and all the other albums. I listen to them every single day, they heal my mind. I’m able to see the positive things in life and Shinedown’s giving me power every day.

Recently on this European tour, I finally had my meet and greet which I was waiting for so long and it was the greatest experience I ever had. It feels like that I finally found music and people who understand my every day’s struggle.

Don Tenney: Wadsworth, OH

If but a person reads this, it resonates, then spread LOVE! Shinedown are practically daily therapy to me. Like most people here, we’re struggling, each with our own awful hell. Messages like Shinedown’s carry us and give us strength. I’m a person who let’s music in, to heal and feel. My upbringing was a bit tough, yeah….. I personally struggle with depression, ((addiction)) and anger. Shinedown is a constant therapy. In my darkest days, I use Shinedown, and bands with positive messages to pull me though. This is my first conversation within the Shinedown community, so thank you all for letting me be a part of it. Truly humble. Peace and Love.

photo by: Sanjay Parikh

Melissa Folks: Louisville, KY

About a year ago something changed. Quickly. And drastically. I found myself sitting in the middle of the stairs, staring at the wall. I wanted to sink into the wall and disappear. And I was so scared but too proud and, honestly, scared to express it to anyone. Plus, I didn’t want to talk. It all sounded stupid. How could I even begin to explain something so foreign?

My friend sent me a link to Shinedown’s version of “Simple Man” and I listened to it, but wasn’t necessarily interested. In fact, I’d heard it many times before in the past.

Shinedown. I’d briefly listened to them years ago but then life happened, kids happened, busyness happened.

That one song flowed into other Shinedown songs on YouTube, and before long I discovered their newer songs that made me realize what I was feeling was something many were suffering from. And even more, the music from this band recognized it and gave me hope and motivation to keep waking up and moving on.

I’m still suffering. Every single day. I’m working through it all. But they’ve become my daily therapy and ray of hope.

It’s so cheesy and corny sounding but in the rawest, realest sense, Shinedown and their willingness to make real, relatable music literally saved my life. I’m forever grateful to them. As is my family.

Kody Ellsworth: Boise, ID

Shinedown is more than a band, they’re a lifestyle, they have helped me through my lows, and gotten me through tough times.

I’ve seen them four times and every time it gets better, Brent Smith inspired me to start singing, it got me to take two years of professional vocal lessons. I found out I could play piano by teaching myself “Call Me” by ear and within 5-10 minutes I was playing the chords and melody. I ended up learning just about all of their music, acoustically, and even got numerous people who asked, “Did you write that song?” Many times, I’ve had to say “I wish”.

After a while I started realizing, playing Shinedown’s music isn’t just for fun, or for these people’s entertainment. Their music speaks to people and leaves a profound sense of encouragement and love for one another. I’m glad I have the ability to be able to spread their music to those who don’t know them. Shinedown has opened many doors for me as a person and has inspired me as an artist and musician.

Favorite Brent Smith philosophy lesson: “It’s never goodbye, it’s just tell next time.”

photo by: Sanjay Parikh

Freddie Beda: London, UK

Something really changed for me with Shinedown’s ATTENTION ATTENTION. It just clicked. And resonated deeply because I could feel first-hand how much of a deeply sincere place this was coming from. This a band that truly cares and wants to make an impact with their platform. It’s one thing to have a message, but it’s the delivery of that message that makes all the difference.

For me, on a record full of encouragement it was “Monsters” that made it happen. I slipped into the dark corners of my mind after an incredibly emotional six-months of life. As the heaviness permeated my existence, I kept going to “Monsters”… because man, my monsters are real. When I recognized that, everything changed.

Everyone has some demons they wrestle, and I think half the battle is simply recognizing that. The monsters are always going to be in the car with you, and that is OK. Just never let them take the wheel.

The way out is through, and what Shinedown has done within this ATTENTION ATTENTION chapter has showed us – we are all alone in this together, we got this and the music will lead the way. It’s our day to be brilliant.

Much love.

photo by: Sanjay Parikh

Shinedown recently launched Shinedown Shares and their #ShinedownShares social media hashtag, an initiative created to encourage fans to use their voice and to join Shinedown in giving back during the holiday season and beyond to charities the band holds near and dear to their hearts including American Red Cross, ASPCA, DC Strong, St. Jude, AFSP, Heal Autism Now, MusiCares, and Green Beret Foundation. More info will be announced in 2020, including local community give-back programs during the tour. For more information visit:

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