B.C. singer takes career cues from Bono, Lennon and Bon Jovi
Published Thursday, November 22, 2012 2:46PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 22, 2012 2:55PM EST
With the release of his new album, “Cosmonaut and the Girl,” B.C. singer Shawn Hook has earned a spot on the Canadian Hot 100 and the No. 7 place on Billboard’s list of emerging artists. But as his name grows and his fan base broadens, Hook is not losing sight of his true goal to use music for good.
“I admire artists like Bon Jovi, John Lennon and Bono,” Hook said on Thursday, after an appearance on CTV’s Canada AM. “Sure, they’re famous. But they’ve put something back into the world with their music. That’s my goal, too.”
In the early days of his career, Hook formed a charity initiative called “Feed The Need,” where he performed in local high schools to help collect items for food banks. Now renamed “Live To Give,” Hook plans on giving back to communities on a bigger scale as his career grows.
The one-time engineering student from South Slocan, B.C. has earned a reputation of note as a performer and songwriter.
Hook’s music has been featured on Kiefer Sutherland’s supernatural T.V. series “Touch,” the HBO series “Shameless,” and “Degrassi” The Next Generation,” featured on CTV.
Hook’s tunes also received airplay during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, as part of CTV’s coverage of the prestige sporting event.
These breaks have not been lost on the would-be star, who began his love affair with music at age four.
“It was my one true passion, but following it has not always been easy,” Hook told CTVNews.ca on Thursday.
After spending two years in college on the advice of his parents, Hook abandoned engineering and enrolled at The Art Institute in Vancouver.
“My parents weren’t happy, but they understood,” said Hook, who moved to Los Angeles and released an indie album on MySpace in 2006.
That effort captured the interest of an L.A. music supervisor on the hunt for new songs to feature on several T.V. shows.
That connection lead to an unexpected meeting with ABC, where executives working in the network’s recording division invited Hook in and paired him with a composer. The duo created a wealth of new songs. Two of those efforts featuring Hook’s lyrics appeared on the legal comedy-drama “Eli Stone” between 2008 and 2009
“There are plenty of people in L.A. trying to make it, and maybe one or two per cent are pulling in a paycheque. I don’t take that for granted,” said Hook. “I’ve also come to learn how powerful music can be.”
That revelation hit Hook hard after learning that one of his songs was played at the funeral of a soldier who had fallen in Iraq.
Written when Hook was 19, the song “Soldier” was inspired by a news segment featured on CNN that showed several protestors from the Westboro Baptist Church slamming the death of a U.S. soldier in Iraq. According to these protestors, the soldier deserved to die because he chose to enlist in the military, as Hook explained.
This independent Baptist church in the United States is well known for its extreme ideologies and has sparked controversy in recent years.
“When I saw that news clip, I thought people my age are soldiers and are dying. No one deserves to die just because they’re a soldier,” said Hook.
On a lighter note, Hook’s path to stardom has included an unusual achievement.
In 2003, Hook set a Guinness World Record for standing the longest time on an exercise ball: 3 hours, 16 minutes and 16 seconds.
“My dad suggested I do it. I grew up playing hockey and used an exercise ball to train,” Hook told CTV’s Canada AM on Thursday.
Hook’s mother later forwarded a video clip to producers on “The Ellen DeGeneres” show. When the clip aired, DeGeneres quipped, “That guy’s certainly on the ball.”
Now, with his release of his new album for music label EMI Canada, Hook has set his sights on greater achievements.
Filled with strong vocals and powerful lyrics, the tunes in “Cosmonaut and the Girl” deal with the highs and lows of life, including bad breakups and coping with loss.
“I wanted people to listen to this and say hey, this guy can write a song,” said Hook.
The song “So Close” also reflects Hook’s wry take on his career thus far.
“That song’s all about my life in L.A.” said Hook.
“It’s where I hope to realize my dreams. But I don’t see my name on Hollywood Boulevard yet.”