Story: Teresa Wilson Photo: Kara Stewart
SIXTEEN–YEAR–OLD SUMMER SCHAPPELL ROCKS COUNTRY MUSIC
Sitting cross-legged in a chair at a local coffee shop, Summer Schappell appears to be a typical teenager, although not many young girls can claim they were the opening act for country music star Josh Turner.
While taking a sip of her hot chocolate, she pauses. A smile curls about her lips, and she says, “I just want to share my music with everyone.” At only 16, Summer is well on her way to achieving that dream. Her motivation and enthusiasm is evident as her eyes light up when she talks about her passion. “People who tell me I can’t do it make me try 20 times harder,” she says.
For as long as she can remember, Summer has been singing and dancing for her grandparents, Bill and Kay Schappell, who raised her since she was 2. Before long, it wasn’t just family hearing her voice.
When Summer was 8, Ron Cornelius, a guitarist for The Untouchables, brought Summer on stage to sing oldies with the band. Summer says, “They were surprised when I started singing… I don‘t think they expected me to be any good.” Cornelius, a Grammy nominee and producer at Nashville-based Gateway Entertainment, recorded Summer’s self-titled debut album when she was 14. Cornelius, a former North State resident, continues to be a big part of Summer’s career and she attributes her early success to that first invitation on stage. “I felt at home,” she says. “I had more fun at that than at prom.”
Classically trained by Dawn Hess of Kids Unlimited, Summer was encouraged early to develop her love of music through song and dance. With the dedication of her grandparents and help of Cindy Rutenshroer, her acting manager, Summer is making a name for herself.
Wearing her signature puffy dresses and Luchesse boots, Summer has performed at the Shasta District Fair, various Asphalt Cowboys events and American Cancer Society fundraisers. She is spreading her wings to perform at the Modoc, Siskiyou and El Dorado County fairs this year and will hold a concert July 4 at the Mount Shasta Resort.
Summer’s love of country music began when a friend introduced her to the genre. Once she heard young country, she says she was hooked, “I can’t believe I didn’t listen to country before; I can’t live without it now,” she says with a laugh. With Taylor Swift as her newfound inspiration, Summer vows to do what it takes to make it to Nashville some day.
That day may come very soon, as she is entertaining offers out of Nashville to sign with an independent management company, a major record label and a well-known celebrity attorney to promote her career. Summer can’t discuss the particulars yet, but her grandmother says it will take her to the next level of her career.