ADAM SHENK’s “Suitcases”

Adam Shenk has covered a lot of ground in a short span of time—and always, it seems, with purpose packed for the ride. The Indiana native grew up in Virginia, and by middle school, was admitted to Princeton, N.J.’s American Boychoir School, which led to performances in Japan, Iceland, Germany, France, Latvia, Denmark and Switzerland. During high school, his musical muse fostered entry to Michigan’s Interlochen Center for the Arts, then the Boston Conservatory, and Berklee College of Music.


But it was a fateful audition in 2007 for MTV’s “Making the Band 4,” that brought him to New York, where Shenk scored an audition for the hit series’ semi-finals. It was there that he found fertile ground to officially launch his career as a songwriter, producer and live singer. Three years later, it seems safe to say he has put down roots.


Not surprisingly, Shenk’s second album, “Suitcases,” focuses on transition and change. He explains, “I’ve learned that I have to be at home with myself; to be content no matter where I am.”


Produced by Ayhan Sahin with music and lyrics by Shenk, the 14-track “Suitcases” is packed full of instantaneous hooks, indelible choruses and themes that offer universal appeal. Stylistically, the sonic triptych meshes pop and contemporary R&B with old-school soul and shades of jazz. Imagine classic Simply Red infused with the youth and verve of Chris Brown.


Shenk’s goal for the project is to connect his experiences one to one with listeners. “I’m looking for a sense of intimacy, as if I’m talking directly to them: telling a story, whispering in their ear, or sitting around a fire,” he notes. “I want people to know me better after they hear the album. Like everybody, I want to feel love and connection; to be heard and understood.”


Highlights include the piano-driven “Still,” a mid-tempo finger-snapper that celebrates the memory of a faded love, as he sings, “Someday I will find another space I can fill/Until then I’ll be thinking of you… still.” Shenk explains, “This is about the person you’ll never forget, the chills and thrills you felt together. Even when that next special someone comes along, there’s no replacing those memories.”


The evolution of relationships also takes center stage in the funky, synthesizer-fueled “Taste,” a sensual tale of forbidden obsession. “Their face is fixated in your head,” Shenk says. “You try to sleep, but they’re there. The thought of that person is like a drug.” Bringing infatuation to the next level is frenetic, nervous dance jam “Warning Shot,” produced by Nick Morin, in which he lyrically muses, “Tell me what the hell’s going on, some kind of voodoo?/We barely met, but the look in your eyes I won’t soon forget.”


Lightening the load on “Suitcases” is playful party anthem “Saturday,” —with guest rap from New Yorker Heightz—about those times “when anything seems possible… friendship, love, an endless good time,” Shenk says. “The night seamlessly blends into day and you wish it would last forever.”


With the memorable grooves and adhesive hooks that pervade “Suitcases,” he may just have just such a soundtrack, destined to endure for the long term. It’s certainly a logical bookend to his 2007 EP, “If Ya Like This,” which Shenk wrote, sang and co-produced. That 7-song collection was recorded in Boston, as he wrapped up at Berklee and felt empowered by his brush with fame on MTV’s “Making the Band 4.”


“I had stars in my eyes, and a lot of adrenaline and momentum,“ he reflects. “It was my first experience recording a CD, and I was so pleased with the final product.” In fact, three songs from that recording are included on “Suitcases” as bonus tracks: “If Ya Like This,” a telling showcase for his soul-meets-jazz signature; rapid-fire “Up & Coming”; and romantic lullaby “Fall Asleep Humming.”


Ironically, it was while recording that first CD that Shenk actually wrote the song “Suitcases”—but at the time, he felt it wasn’t quite ready for public consumption. “A couple years after I moved to New York, I stumbled across the track—I had almost forgotten about it—and I was so taken by how its meaning had changed, that I incorporated it into my live set,” including a residency at Manhattan club Pianos and NYC gigs at Rockwood Music Hall, Cutting Room, Bitter End and Bowery Poetry Club.


Now, Shenk says, “There are fewer stars in my eyes, and more questions; I’m still finding myself, my voice and what it is that will ultimately make me happy.” As he went to work on the new collection, more than ever, the song “Suitcases” seemed a perfect representation to lead his second album: “It’s a joyful celebration of life and change—but tempered with melancholy. We all hope we will one day soar, but sometimes you never get off the ground. It’s ultimately about holding on to that hope, knowing you have only so much control.”


Still, there’s no doubt that Shenk has taken charge of his destiny. He’s got the drive—and if there’s any doubt, one listen to “Suitcases” reveals an artist with a boatload—and its cargo—of talent.


“This experience represents another chance to ‘sharpen the knife,’ and it’s been essential for me to connect with the music, the dance, the writing, the entire creative process—to prove to myself that my art is important,” Shenk admits. “I’ve been told that this career is a marathon, not a race, and I look forward to so much more… love, joy, art and music.”


Former Billboard magazine senior writer and editor Chuck Taylor has covered music and entertainment for 25 years.


DNA featuring Karine Hannah – “Calling Card”

 The first album from production team DNA—Dennis Delgaudio and Ayhan Sahin—  featuring vocals from the fabulous Karine Hannah


By clinical definition, DNA is the primary chromosomal component that generates genetic characteristics in all life forms—comprising two united strands that then replicate a new partner as cells divide.


Or something of the sort… Science is one thing, and art is quite another. In this scenario, DNA encompasses two creative partners— songwriter/guitarist Dennis DelGaudio and producer/songwriter Ayhan Sahin—who fused their musical talents in 2009 as production duo DNA. In its most organic design: Dennis n’ Ayhan. Get it?


Their partnership, based out of 2C Studios in Brooklyn, N.Y., releases its first full-length collaboration on Young Pals Music with the 12-track “Marquee,” featuring the consummate vocals of Karine Hannah. The crafty melodies, organic instrumentation and soaring, anthemic vocals that parade across this collection embody a true artistic alliance. We’ll call it alchemy.

To break down DNA: Dennis DelGaudio, who started playing guitar at age 13, performed with The Turtles and Peter Noone, before starring onstage and playing on the cast album for Broadway’s hit musical “Movin’ Out.” DelGaudio has co-written songs for indie films “Class of ‘83” and “Pope Dreams,” along with theme music for CNBC. In 2008, he became a regular touring member with Billy Joel’s band. He’s also shared the stage with Paul McCartney, Roger Daltrey, Steven Tyler, Elton John and Garth Brooks.


Turkish-born Ayhan Sahin worked at home for a decade as a civil engineer, and came to the States in 2000 to pursue an MFA degree from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He then worked with Melba Moore, Phoebe Snow, Turkish superstar Sezen Aksu, Sandra Bernhard, “American Idol” finalists Vonzell Solomon, Jon Peter Lewis and Anthony Fedorov; and Jill Gioia from “Rockstar Supernova.” His music has been featured on CNN, MTV’s “Made,” a documentary supporting the Fox TV series “Arrested Development” and “American Idol Rewind.”


Canadian-born Hannah began singing at age 4, and has worked with acclaimed producers/songwriters Jim Steinman, David Foster, Diane Warren and Rick Allison. She has been trademarked at various times as gospel singer, rock goddess, pop diva and soul songstress. There simply isn’t a genre she can’t deliver with her commanding vocal signature.


And thus, here, the ultimate fusion of forces: DNA, featuring Karine Hannah. Dare we suggest that a new life form has emerged.


Former Billboard magazine editor and writer Chuck Taylor has covered entertainment for more than two decades. “Camouflage” by DNA featuring Karine Hannah by Young Pals Music


“I’ve been recording music for years, but this time around, I’m ready to bring my talents to a new level of expressiveness—a new venture both visually and melodically. I love all styles of music, but I feel most comfortable with  my Latin roots. What a great opportunity to push these sounds forward and come up with something that not only makes me proud, but shows support for my precious home in Puerto Rico” 

iTunes link

EMRE YILMAZ – “Only Yesterday”

Emre Yilmaz discovered his musical muse as a guitarist at age 10, relocating from his native Turkey to study in the United States as a teen at Michigan’s prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy, then graduating from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. Today, the New Yorker is a master of musical largess, as a singer, songwriter, classical guitarist and sought-after live performer, including regular flamenco jazz fusion gigs with noted Blue Note guitarist Spiros Exaras. His solo “Only Yesterday” is a perfectly timed, consummate graduation day anthem, co-written and arranged with producer and fellow Turk Ayhan Sahin. Emre sings: “Seems like only yesterday, we met each other, found our way/Life it happens, we all change/A new day has come, turn the page.” He not only serenades the masses entering a new phase of life but showcases acoustic guitars, with electric guitars courtesy of Billy Joel bandmate Dennis DelGaudio. Emre’s international catalog is well-established; now this suave, handsome talent has the ultimate showcase to become one of the year’s most auspicious breakouts. 



iTunes link

KARINE HANNAH’s New Album “Karine”

“’Karine’ hearkens a bygone era where an album was designed to serve up the full spectrum of an artist’s ability—instead of so many gimmick-driven, pinhole-targeted acts that drive today’s marketplace. Hannah’s versatility is her trump, imbued with innate celestial talent and consummate emotive fervor. Aligned with these dozen-plus sing-along treasures, here is a project whose stamp is utterly timeless.”

Billboard Magazine, New York
December 2008



PROMIS’ NEW ALBUM “Life is Grand!”


Influenced by the cool breezes and warm waters of the Mediterranean, the 14  songs explore themes of life, love and lessons, with a rich tapestry of all-live instruments. Recorded by Chilean singer/songwriter Jose Promis and produced and co-written with Turkish songwriter Ayhan Sahin, the project is truly a mesh of world influences, while maintaining a decidedly pop imprint.

” Promis brings a fresh and intriguing vision to the mainstream. In collaborating with composer/producer Ayhan Sahin, he has created a cross-cultural sound that demands deep investigation. This is a remarkable debut that hints at a long, very special career ahead.”
 Larry Flick, Sirius
Satellite Radio