When other little girls were taking ballet classes or playing with dolls, Shelley was singing. From the time she was little, her house was filled with music of every kind - from gospel to pop. Artists from Evie to Elton John inspired this young performer. She started focusing her efforts on her God-given gifts as early as middle school, when she began taking voice lessons. She continued her studies all the way through her schooling, including earning her degree in vocal performance at Baylor University.
"There has always been music in my house. Every time the family was together, we would all - grandparents to grandkids - sit around and sing together. I think music is important to everyone, whether they realize it or not. It's about expression and emotion. A song can help someone understand something they may be experiencing or feeling but have never been able to put into words. Music is important to me personally because I love it so much. That was God's choice, to put musical gifts in me, to give me the joy that I get from doing it."
In 1990, when Generation X was making their disgruntled mark on our society and grunge was the sound of the moment, Shelley found peace from the uneasy world by immersing herself in praising God. She began leading music with Sam Perry and the team at Choice Bible Study, which then evolved into Passion, alongside the preaching of Louie Giglio. As is His tendency, God turned this one opportunity into many. She went on to travel with Soul's Desire for five years, leading worship all over the southeast.
As part of Choice, and with her maiden name Nirider, Shelley's vocals can be heard on uplifting praise and worship albums, including Isn't He, Worship His Majesty, Grace, Goodness & Mercy, and You're Worthy of My Praise. When Choice became Passion, she continued to make her contributions to their yearly albums in 1998 and 1999, and then to Passion: The Road to One Day. She is also featured on the CD and DVD of One Day Live.
As much as she loved being part of such an amazing group of people and part of projects that she was extremely proud of, she felt God leading her to Nashville in 2000. "I didn't really know what that meant or what I would do," she says of the move, but now she has logged hundreds of hours as a Nashville session singer, including BGV's for artists like Big Daddy Weave, Sandi Patty, Susan Ashton, and David Phelps.
Although the work was incredibly satisfying and she was thankful for being able to do what she loved, she felt that God had more in store for her. Shelley suffered for several years with marital anxiety, wondering if God would ever provide the husband that she longed for. After going through something of an identity crisis, she met the man that would become her husband in 2002. John and Shelley have been married since May 2003.
"Being single was a great source of stress and insecurity for me. I felt abnormal. Sometime after I moved to Nashville, God started counseling me and I didn't know it. I already had a great family and close friends who knew me well and loved me anyway. The kind of marriage I wanted would take all that to some next level - or I didn't want it at all. The next year, I met John. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God makes everything beautiful in its time. Sometimes God loves us with His delays."
In 2004, Shelley joined the Women of Faith worship team, performing with Natalie Grant, Babbie Mason, Sheila Walsh, and Sandi Patty.
In 2006, Shelley released REDEEMED, and album of her original material. She says of her record, "It feels amazing to be making this record. It seems like a long time in coming, but nothing is wasted with God, including time. I have never considered myself a songwriter and it's scary to be this vulnerable but these songs have come from my heart. It's interesting how you gain experience and influence over the course of time, without realizing it or intending to."
Fifteen years after she joined Choice, the world is no more at peace than it was then, but Shelley is now excited about being able to share the peace that she has in Christ Jesus through song.
"I want people to know who God is - who HE says He is, not who we say He is; and to help them come to know that He loves them. That's what I want and need for myself, so sharing is like reinforcement for my own soul. I hope this record reflects all of that, in some way."