North State Native Summer Schappell at the Cascade Theatre
● By Kerri Regan
Story by Kerri Regan
Photo by Little Moments by ALG
Much has transpired in the seven years since Summer Schappell first headlined a show at the Cascade Theatre in Redding – most notably, she made her national television debut on “The Voice.”
As a thank you to those who loved her before she dazzled audiences on one of America’s most prominent stages, she’s coming back to Redding’s historic downtown theatre.
“‘The Voice’ was a blast, but it was extremely nerve wracking – it’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” says Schappell, 22. “The Cascade is a comfortable place for me, so I can let loose a little more.”
The Lakehead native was thrilled to earn a spot on “The Voice,” and in October, millions of television viewers watched her belt out a rendition of “Strawberry Wine” that drew praise from all four judges and has since been viewed nearly 1 million times on YouTube. She was invited by both No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams (of “Happy” fame) to join their teams – she chose Team Gwen and amassed a legion of fans before Stefani ultimately chose one of her competitors to advance to the final performance phase of the competition.
Although she didn’t take home the crown, she says the knowledge she gained from the judges, guest artists (including Rihanna) and other competitors has benefited her beyond measure.
“The biggest thing I took away is that I’m not mainstream country, and they told me to embrace that – be different,” Schappell says. “Gwen (Stefani) said, ‘You know exactly who you are and exactly what you want to do,’ and it was the best compliment I’ve ever gotten.”
Being on a reality television show is an intense, all-consuming experience that quickly builds tight bonds between the competitors. “We were in hotels for months at a time – it was like lockdown,” she says. “When you see people get eliminated from the show and the other contestants are sad, it’s a really genuine reaction.”
And she’s delighted that a piece of her television experience remains with her.
“My friend Lyndsey Elm from The Voice will be opening the show at the Cascade. It’s kind of perfect, because she’s from Vacaville,” Schappell says. “(Contestant) Kota Wade and I recorded an original song together and we’re doing a music video, and Tim Atlas from the show produced it. We wanted to put out there that no matter what happens, keep going – get up, dust yourself off and keep going.”
A singer since she was a toddler, Schappell began taking dance classes at age 3 and joined Kids Unlimited, a summer performing arts camp, at age 8. She recorded her first album in Nashville at age 14, and soon began opening for country music stars, including Josh Turner and LeAnn Rimes – all before she graduated from Enterprise High School, where she was part of the show-pop group Enterprise Starship.
The bubbly, blonde teenager who sang “Chocolate is a Vitamin” in her mid-teens has evolved into an edgier singer with sassy silver locks whose current singles include “It’s Workin’” and “It Ought to Be a Sin.”
“When I got back from L.A., I knew I had to get a band together,” she says. “I don’t necessarily want to do pop country – I want to bring a tiny bit of a rock edge to country.”
She’ll eventually need to move to Nashville or Texas to immerse herself in the country music scene, she says, but for now, she’s enjoying some time in the North State with her grandparents, Bill and Kay, who raised her. She has performed throughout California and Oregon, including at Redding’s Christmas tree lighting and at Historic Hawes Farms right before Halloween.
She looks forward to sharing her own songs along with some cover tunes at her show in January, where she’ll introduce her “incredible” new band. “I’m so excited,” she says. “I love how kind and supportive this community has been, and I wanted to do this concert to say thank you.”
Summer Schappell • 7pm Friday, Jan. 22, Cascade Theatre, Redding