You wait with anticipation for the date of the Academy of Country Music Awards, you wait with great enthusiasm to hear if your favorite artist(s) will be nominated and you then ask yourself; “Should I make plans to go?” It is by far one of THE most exciting times in Las Vegas when “Country Comes to Town.” The thrills, the chills, the hype, the events, the fun; but oh THE WORK!
Work you ask? Well for native Californian, Shawn Parr, it may be work, but work he truly loves. It is like the old saying, “If you find a job you like, you will never have to work a day in your life.” This is the Parr motto. Shawn Parr has been the “Ambassador of Country Music” in the Los Angeles and Orange County area where his career has spanned over 25 years. On any given day, at any given moment, something can happen in your life that can change it forever. And this is where I lead you.
Shawn has been the “Voice” of the ACM”s and living what he calls, “The Best Possible Dream.” His journey started 19 years ago when he attended his first ACM Charity Golf Outing & Auction. As it turned out the auctioneer did not make it that night so Shawn asked if he could take over & see what he could do. Needless to say he was a hit. Shortly after this event he was approached by Dick Clark Productions to be the warm up personality for the hit TV show, “Hot Country Nights.” His drive to excel and his love for what he does, allowed the path to open leading the way to the Academy of Country Music Awards, a Dick Clark Production.
Shawn reflects back on the first show and it still amazes him. “I was so excited, yet nervous not knowing exactly what to expect. Everything seemed so much smaller than what I have seen on television, I was in awe. But the greatest moment of that weekend, and one I still carry with me, is when Dick Clark sat down next to me with his gracious smile, took me under his wing and said, “Welcome to the family.” He went on to introduce me to everyone and all the nervousness went away. It was a day I will never forget.”
This event does not just happen on the day of. There are many weeks of prep work for Shawn, going to the studio in Hollywood to tape the “packages” as they are called. These are the announcing of the artist’s performances, the presenters, going to commercials, the intro back into the show and so forth. Things are not always set in stone either, an artist appearance can change, the line up can change hence the “packages” change. Shawn went on to say; “About 30% of the taping is done in Hollywood and the other 70% is done live in Vegas. Rehearsals start on Friday and continue on until Sunday morning, where a “mock” show is done to get everything cued up. My cues come from the director and producer, camera crews etc. and at times it is like I am hearing so many voices in my head; but this is a good thing.” I asked Shawn if he ever felt “invisible” since he is such an integral part of the show but no one sees him. “The audience gets to see me when I come out before the show starts, I get them all revved up and give them a little heads up as to what will go on with a live show. But the TV audience does not see me and I think I would like them to take a peek at where I am and what I do. We have done this before during the American Music Awards, and it was really amazing.”
Oh, no show goes without hitches, especially live shows. There have been times when an artist is delayed coming to the stage, introducing wrong presenters, or missing a cue but professionals can always work those things out. “The sets are pre-set and are lined up like an assembly line. When an act finishes, their set is moved out and the next one comes in. It is a non-stop three hours of mass but fun chaos. It is an amazing high adrenaline rush like a kid in a candy store. I have to calm down and often pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming.” We all can ask and wonder what are some of the “scoops” Shawn may have heard or witnessed over the years, probably stuff worthy of the National Enquirer, but he can tell you this, “Oh yes, there have been some great times, some “I don’t believe it” times, but I hold the utmost respect for these artists and all the people I work with and the trust I have gained would never allow me to put any of that in jeopardy. They are my family.” For 17 years Shawn has been the host of the ACM “All Star Jam After Party” as well. “I leave one stage, walk through another door and I am on another stage never knowing what or who the night will bring. It is magic.”
Shawn feels that the ACM move to Vegas from California was a great strategy. “It not only elevated the party feeling of the weekend and the show, but brought great things to the city. I have loved it and the fun we have from Friday to Monday is like one big “Vegas Country Family Reunion.” There is talk of the ACM’s moving to Texas in the future and Shawn feels it could be a good thing, “There are a lot of country music roots in Texas so it would seem reasonable and I hope to remain a part of it.” Through his long relationship with Dick Clark Productions, Shawn has gone on to be the voice of the Daytime Emmy’s, the American Music Awards, Golden Globes, and for the past two years has been part of the MDA Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.
Throughout his long career Shawn has been involved in many different ventures; he is not one to sit still long. He has seen many changes over the past 25 years but still loves country today as much as he did from the start. Shawn was the morning radio personality on KZLA before shifting to the mid-day slot. In 2006 KZLA ceased to exist as a country station leaving fans dismayed. Thousands made their voices heard and within three months KKGO, Go Country 105.1 FM, was born and five months later Shawn was back on the air along with Robin Banks, bringing everyone back to life. “Country fans are the most incredible resilient people you will ever meet. I cannot tell them enough how much I appreciate them.” There is no stopping Shawn when he sets his mind to something. Not only can you listen to him on Go Country from 10am-2pm, http://www.gocountry105.com/ but he also has given us a great Saturday nationally syndicated slot filled with “The Country’s Hot List.” http://thecountryhotlist.com/. Shawn spins the tunes, gives you the latest on what is “HOT” along with interviews from some of your favorite artists. The show has only been in existence for one year but has already garnered Shawn and his producer, Jackie Stevens an ACM nomination for National On-Air Personality of the Year. “This was more than I could have ever imagined. To be thought of by my peers in this way is indeed an honor.”
So I guess you can say this is a story of a “Local Boy Done Good.” Well it is and Shawn never hesitates to give back to those who are a big part of his life. He is a devoted father and family man, stays strong in his communities in the many charity functions he is part of, such as being on the Board of Directors for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and hosting his own annual golf outing for the John Tracy Clinic for the Hearing Impaired. So like I said in the beginning, Shawn Parr IS “ The Ambassador of Country Music” especially to us in California. I have only known Shawn for a few years but for what this man has brought into our lives, it is like I have known him forever. I want to thank Shawn for taking the time out of this busy ACM week to sit with me. See ya in Vegas!!!
(Thanks also to VJ & Debra for their help)