Thanks to GSC reporter, Dan Reifsnyder
Dan Reifsnyder: I feel like everyone who has had contact with GSC knows who you are – you often reach out to members on Sheree’s behalf, you’re at mixers…but how did you get started with them?
Tanya Sue: Well, I knew Sheree from her days with NSAI – I had gone in to a mentoring session there, and I was in a low place. And she kind of stopped me, and said “I’ve gone through things as well, and we’re not going to count this as a session. You’re not alone.” She talked to me about what was going on in my life, and gave me a picture of a purple flower, which I still have to this day. So I started helping her with events she used to have, with events at the Orbison building. It was definitely a God thing.
DR: So you’ve been with GSC since day one, then. I don’t think I realized that!
TS: Yeah, she’s like my favorite person. I watched her build her company from the ground up.
DR: What do you think is different about GSC?
TS: GSC is fully based around heart – there’s so much heart and love, hard work and soul in that program that Sheree puts in. Her husband, and Jim, and everyone that’s a part of it. I’ve never known any organization that has that much love and care for members. She wants to encourage her members all the time, and she really loves and cares. No matter who the member is, she’ll always remember something about them – where they live, a lyric that they’ve written. No other place is like that.
DR: So what’s it been like working for Sheree?
TS: Honestly, it’s been amazing therapy for me. This sounds whatever, but she’s like an angel on this earth – I always call working with her therapy sessions. It helps me grow as a person – not just on the business side, but knowing who I am and believing in myself, and believing that I can do what I was meant to do in this world. So working with her is really a miracle, because I don’t know where I would have been if I hadn’t met her. Her positivity, her spirit, is just so contagious.
DR: It really is! So you have a mission, a purpose behind your music. Tell me about that.
TS: It was through Sheree, and she helped me realize this program. Dark City Light is bringing awareness to suicide and letting people know they’re not alone, and letting people know that you can get through it. And during that process when I was suffering, when you lose hope that’s like the danger zone. I was kind of in that phase when I started with Sheree, but as I went to therapy and started talking to Sheree more, she said “You know, you’ve lived through this….this is your calling.” She really helped encourage that inner spark in me that wanted to speak to men and women of all ages and all walks of life. Suicide is just a statistic, people are embarassed about it, it’s shunned. Peope don’t understand unless they’ve gone through it. So I’m out there to be a voice for those suffering with mental illness, depression, negative thoughts that have been programmed into their minds. To be a role model and spokesman, to let them know that they can get through this.
DR: So you actually are a public speaker as well?
TS: Yes, I worked with Glen Cliff school where we worked with the students for a few weeks and then put on a show in front of the high school body. My goal is to keep doing that, keep working with the high schools. And with the few high schools I’ve been talking to, the principals are pretty very responsive. They’ve had this stuff going on in their schools, and they feel it needs to be addressed. So that’s definitely a route I’ve been taking, and I’d love to start talking to different organizations as well.
DR: How did you get into songwriting, and being an artist?
TS: I have always loved music, from like 2 years of age. I probably shouldn’t have been watching Sister Act, but I loved it at 2 years old. The two movies I watched were Sister Act and Pocahontas. I wanted to be Whoopi Goldberg, because she was singing and on stage and I wanted to be Pocahontas because she was singing and dancing in the wind. My mom put me in dance lessons, and that was really the start – I was always known as the girl smiling on stage. I was singing from young on, I started in my church, in the youth group. I had a karaoke machine by the age of six. I didn’t think I was songwriting, I was just journaling a lot, like in my diaries. Who knew you could take stuff from that? I sang with my best friend for multiple years – duets at weddings, churches, funerals…fundraisers, a lot of that. Then him and I made it on that Can You Duet show. That was a great experience that awakened me to that whole Nashville scene, because I’m from a small town of less than 2,000. We never had any of that kind of thing by us.
DR: Who are you musical influences?
TS: I loved Karen Carpenter, Meat Loaf – the theatrical stuff – I loved Freddie Mercury. Nowadays I try to base my music off people like Avril Lavigne and Pink – strong voices saying something like “Wow, did she just say that?” You know, gutsy. And I love my girl Kelly Clarkson.
DR: How did you end up moving to Nashville?
TS: Well, after I did that Can You Duet show, I went back to college, worked with a producer, then I did a year abroad studying in Ireland. I still kept up with voice lessons and stuff at school, playing out with my band and stuff. Then senior year, I was like “Alright, I can either move to Chicago or move to Nashville.” The only person I knew was the producer/engineer I had worked with, but I picked up and moved. My housing fell through, so I ended up staying with him and his family for like, six months. In my heart I knew I had to go. It’s hard moving, but I had to do it. This is where I was being called to, and no it’s home.