Where to begin. Shae Wilbur is a TV host, a producer, a singer/songwriter, and a new mom. The up-and-coming artist has a lot on her plate. And she weathers the storm with grace and determination, despite her life going through so many unexpected directions. What's more, is that Shae has loved every different season that she's walked through. I had an opportunity to speak with Shae about her past and current opportunities throughout the mainstream entertainment industry, her music, her new EP, and her career.
Shae, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Music has been a part of my life from a very young age. My dad is a singer/songwriter. And, as a kid, I grew up going to his concerts and listening to him sing songs in our living room. I always knew music was something I was meant to do. I released an album about 10 years ago called Mercy Calling. I toured the world with it. But, auditioning for American Idol is what really sent my life into a new and exciting direction. After appearing on Season 8, I quickly delved into the TV world as both a host and a producer. I've been doing this for the past eight years. All the while, I've continued to write new music. And, I've loved every second of it.
You're currently signed with Planetshakers' record label. How did this come about?
So, the Planetshakers' record label started working with my father-in-law, Paul Wilbur, who's a recording artist and a worship leader. That's how I was first introduced to them. And soon after, we began talks regarding my music. At this point, my focus was on other things, like TV hosting. But, I have these five songs that are really close to my heart. And I felt it was the right time to release them.
What are you working on now? When can we see a new album?
Well, right now, we're focusing on the release of my new EP, Unmovable. As I mentioned, I'm so excited to be sharing the EP's five songs with the world. We've worked so hard on them. And, lyrically, they are birthed out of some of the hardest times in my life. So, I really hope these songs minister to people. I definitely plan to start writing songs for a full-length album soon. In addition to the music, I'm still working as a producer on American Idol, casting for next season, which I am super excited about. I've been blessed with opportunities to pursue my dreams. And I find it extremely fulfilling to help others pursue theirs.
Why Christian music?
When it comes to "Christian music" versus "secular music," I just feel like it's not as much a matter of the 'label' per se. I write music from my heart and from a place of connection. For me, music is more than just words or catchy melodies; it's about shifting the focus off of myself to One Greater. I feel most at home, most alive when I'm lost in a moment of worship.
You were a contestant on American Idol. What was this experience like? How did this affect your music and catapult your career?
My experience on American Idol was nothing short of life changing. And not because I won (because I didn't) and not because I made it super far (because I didn't even make it to the live shows), but because sometimes stepping out in the midst of my fears, can bring growth in more ways than I can hope or dream.
This was 10 years ago. So, when I think back to that time, I had already been writing music. I knew I was called to do music. I was also a huge fan of American Idol. And, as it turned out, auditions were coming to my city, in Jacksonville, Florida, at the time. It was actually my husband, Joel, who pushed me to go out and audition. I had every excuse under the sun as to why I didn't want to. But, really, it was because I was absolutely terrified. As it turns out, overcoming fears and saying "yes" in a moment I really wanted to say "no" was quite freeing.
As far as the experience itself, I remember making the decision to make the most of every day of Hollywood Week. I made lifelong friends (Danny Gokey, being one of them). And, I networked with producers, who are still among some of my best friends today. I milked that exposure from American Idol for all it was worth. And, on a side note, Simon Cowell was one of the nicest, most gracious people I came into contact with, while on the show. I could talk for hours about my experiences, my life lessons, as well as my personal growth that I gained throughout my time on American Idol.
Shortly after returning home, I had the opportunity to apply for a job as a TV host. And, from there, my television career took off. Within six years, I had gone from working local news as an Entertainment news reporter to hosting a weekly segment on Extra [entertainment news program], appearing on The Wendy Williams Show [talk show], E! News, The Real [talk show], and more.
You have a strong online presence: YouTube, Instagram, among others. Tell us about that. How did this passion for reaching others online come about?
Since its inception, I have always felt a natural draw to social media. I love people and I love sharing my life with others. And, most of all, I love the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world who share similar interests.
It started out very organically for me. To be honest, it's not something I put a ton of strategy behind. I post about my life, my work, and, well, lately a lot about my sweet baby boy, Shiloh.
The beauty tutorials and the YouTube channel came about simply because I was getting so many requests as to how I styled my hair and makeup. Working in TV for many years I picked up a lot of fun tips and tricks, so I took the opportunity to share them. From there, it grew into sharing my music, vlogging, and even launching my own series called People Who Inspire, in which, I interview people who had personally inspired me for one reason or another.
What are some of your favorite artists and music that you listen to and why? Who would you like to work with in the future and why?
I have so many artists that I look up to who inspire me. I love pretty much anything Bethel Music puts out. Shane & Shane has been a favorite of mine since I was in high school. And to this day, whenever I feel anxious, I put their Psalms album on repeat. I also love artists, like Tauren Wells, Lecrae, Lauren Daigle, and Phil Wickham. As far as artists I'd like to work with, it's always been my dream to collaborate with Amy Grant. The first concert I ever attended was Amy Grant's. Growing up, I can remember listening to her albums over and over again. I feel like I learned to sing, singing along to her music. I'd also love to collaborate with TobyMac, and Lecrae someday.
Years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Mario Lopez while I was and editor at Maximum Fitness Magazine. What's it like to work with him on "Extra"? Tell us about how you work with him?
Working with Mario Lopez was great. I mean, the gig at Extra was my first 'big deal' job. My husband and I had just moved to Los Angeles two months prior. It was really a faith move because I didn't have any jobs lined up. When I got hired to host the weekly segment on Extra, I was so overjoyed. It was a total answer to prayer and confirmation that moving to Los Angeles was the right thing for us to do.
I will say that it was so intimidating and nerve-wracking showing up to work on the first day. But, from day one, Mario was such a gracious host. He really is one of the best in the business. So having the opportunity to work alongside him and learn from him was a gift. I even featured him in my People Who Inspire series on my YouTube channel. We chatted about everything from faith to how he got his start working on TV at such a young age. To this day, Mario and his wife, Courtney, are good friends of ours.
How can we be praying for you?
That's a big question. God is so good and continues to guide each season of my life, but I always welcome prayers for clarity and direction. It can be difficult sometimes juggling everything with the ministry, work, and now being a new mom. I'm so blessed to be able to do what I love and pray that God uses me in a mighty way to impact others.
Paul Phillips is a Canadian journalist with over 10 years of experience writing and editing digital and print content. He specializes in health, fitness, nutrition, and travel. He loves music, movies, and, of course, living for Jesus.
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