Shortly after the pandemic shut down in-person classes, high school student Savanna Shaw desired to remain connected with her choir friends by posting music videos on YouTube. Because she was too shy to perform alone, she asked her dad Mat to sing with her.
The duo published their cover of “The Prayer” on March 6, 2020. To date, their video has nearly 9 million views on YouTube. In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, Savanna shared how her life has changed significantly since their cover went viral.
“I was very, very shy,” Savanna said. “I never shared my voice…I think that that video and just that push really changed me. It forced me to be brave and do things I hadn’t done before, and it gave me a lot of confidence. So, my life changed so much, but it definitely changed for the better.”
Savanna’s love for music stemmed from watching her dad Mat sing as she grew up. In college, he did vocal performance but later invested his time into a real estate company in Kaysville, Utah. When the pandemic slowed business, Mat had more time to dedicate toward music and singing with his daughter.
“I don’t think I could do it alone. It is so much easier and so much more fun having your dad on stage with you. It’s a scary thing for anybody to put yourselves out there, but when you have someone that’s next to you and that has your back like, I think my dad and I both have strengths and weaknesses in our own areas and where one of us is stronger we can help the other and vice versa,” Savanna said.
Although Mat and Savanna are most commonly in the spotlight, there are more members of the Shaw family behind the scenes. In addition to Savanna, Mat and Brooke Shaw are parents to Easton, Eric and Pennie Jean. As Mat and Savanna’s popularity grew and they considered the prospect of going on tour, Mat and Brooke made a goal to keep the family at the center of it all.
“We’ve been really lucky to spend so much time together through this process because we’ve made it a point to have it be a family gig. So, anywhere we go as we tour, we all go as a family, but it’s really caused these kids to have this friendship that’s may be outside of normal, familial relationships because they spend so much time together. They’re gaining all these memories and shared experiences, and it’s really bonded us as a family,” Mat said.
Surfing the wave of their YouTube fame, Mat and Savanna have already collaborated with other notable artists like Madilyn Paige, Peter Hollens, GENTRI, BYU Vocal Point, Jim Brickman, Stephen Nelson, Mark Vaki and Aitana Alapa. With the opportunities to meet some of their own idols, Mat and Savanna can relate to their fans who are ecstatic to meet them in person.
Mat and Savanna now train with vocal coach Linda Tomkinson to keep their vocal cords healthy and in shape for demanding concert sets. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they give a lot of energy to their set song choices and duets. Religion plays a significant role in this decision-making process. However, the Shaw family strives to invite people from all walks of life to enjoy the spirit of their music through an open-ended presentation.
“We think a lot about that and how we want the message to be portrayed that we want to share…People will come to the music from all different walks of life, from different religions, from different political biases. You know, there’s so much divisiveness in the world that we’re in right now, but I feel like music can be that universal thing that we all can get together and gather around just the simple positivity and the light that messages, especially through music, can bring, and so it’s important for us to allow people to see what they need to see in our music,” Mat said.
Mat and Savanna performed their first live Christmas concert in Idaho on November 22nd with the Rexburg Children’s Choir. At the concert, they sang several songs from their new album “The Joy of Christmas.” They are also being featured in a livestream concert event called “Believe” on December 18th. To learn more about their concerts, music and albums, visit their website.