Rising Star

Valley native Nina Shallman is getting attention for her romantic voice and original songwriting.

John Lennon’s “Dear Prudence” has been covered by many artists, but Nina Shallman, just 20 years old, somehow manages a fresh, unique spin on the song. In the rendering on her debut album last year, Nina’s clear distinct voice travels up and down the notes with ease, and slips organically from light to dark.

Nina, who just completed her sophomore year at Amherst College in Massachusetts, grew up in Encino with dad, John, a well-known political consultant, stay-at-home-mom, Lani, and three siblings. With aunts and uncles who are jazz singers, songwriters, and musicians who work in the recording business, Nina was raised with music. “It’s a huge part of our family’s culture,” she says, adding that she learned harmony as child from the back seat of her parents’ car when they put on Beatles’ CDs. She also plays guitar and ukulele.

During summers and school breaks the polished performer plays in venues around LA with a band that complements her lyrical, romantic style. Her warmth comes through in a calm confidence, and an obvious emotional connection with the lyrics makes her performances riveting.

Her album was recorded in the studio of producer Andrew Williams, who has also produced Five For Fighting among others. The single “Never Years Old,” which she sang with Jacob Snider, can be viewed on YouTube, along with several other performance videos—all of which have attracted thousands of views.

Part of the appeal seems to lie in the fact that she’s versatile—clearly in her comfort zone with pop and jazz as well as ‘60s folk-rock tunes. Nina also sings with an all-female student a cappella group at Amherst. “I learned the most about vocal strength and control from my a cappella group, “ she says. “My sound has gotten infinitely better.”

The young singer reveres Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee, but topping her list of current favorites are Norah Jones and Adele. “Adele has an unbelievable voice that is almost otherworldly,” says Nina.

The Campbell Hall graduate has written many of her own songs and was attracted to poetry almost as early as she was to singing. “One elementary school teacher, named Jeff Martin, introduced me to poetry, and that set the stage for songwriting, which is the main medium for my artistic expression,” she adds.

Keep track of this rising young local star at ninashallman.com—and look for her new EP late this summer