Shelly Waters’ musical roots run as deep and wide as the mighty Mississippi River that snakes through her home state of Louisiana. Her sound is the epitome of the holy tonal trinity of blues, country, and rock.
While Waters’ unforgettable voice and unique blend of genres have captivated audiences for years, her journey began in a sleepy Louisiana town called Rayne. Shelly Pellerin Waters was born to a Cajun-French family and was raised on a farm. When she was 10 years old her mother decided that her daughter needed a hobby and Waters was soon taking guitar lessons in the back of an auto parts store. A year later, Waters joined J.B. David and the Mule Skinners, a local French Cajun band, and toured North America.
By the time Waters hit her teen years she was fronting her own band and touring the Louisiana region up until her college years when life threw her a curve. Waters moved from Louisiana to Texas to South Carolina to Maine earning her US Coast Guard Captain’s License, living for eight years on a sailboat in the South Carolina Lowcountry and sailing over 20,000 nautical miles. The experiences led to Waters debut solo album in 2014 and now she returns with her latest self-titled offering.
Produced by multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaler in Nashville, the dozen tracks on the self-titled album will be released July 28. They reflect Waters’ humble beginning growing up on the sounds of swamp pop, blues and rock & roll.
Innocent Words is honored to premier Waters’ take on Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers song “Louisiana Rain.” We sat down with Shelly Waters and asked her about this haunting cover version.
Innocent Words: “Louisiana Rain” is fantastic Tom Petty song, which is one of his buried treasures. What inspired you to pick this song?
Shelly Waters: I grew up in South Louisiana, but the road of life has led me to Texas, South Carolina and now Maine. “Louisiana Rain” describes a transformative journey, not unlike my own. Louisiana will always be my home, but I’ve been shaped by twists and turns along my way.
Innocent Words: Your version is different from the original, which I appreciate. What was the mindset going into recording this track?
Shelly Waters: I worked with producer and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaler on this album. He was intrigued that I wanted to cover a Tom Petty song and proclaimed early in the process that we would have to “make Tom proud.” This version is more stripped down than the original recording and my live version, but I believe it captures the essence of the song beautifully. While recording the vocals, I remember tearing up and getting a lump in my throat; that’s when I knew this would be a perfect finishing touch on the album.
Innocent Words: What do you think Tom Petty would think of this?
Shelly Waters: Great question! It would be super cool to know and I’d be humbled to hear the answer from the man himself.
Innocent Words: You mentioned you play this song live, what is the audience reaction?
Shelly Waters: I have played the song live many times. The amazing crowd response was a primary factor in deciding to cover the song for the album.
Innocent Words: Tom is a master songwriter, what is your favorite lyric in this song?
Shelly Waters: That’s easy: “I may never be the same, when I reach Baton Rouge.”