Chevel Shepherd is enjoying her life in music.
The New Mexico native never stopped moving forward.
During the pandemic, she would perform live on social media. She also released her debut EP, “Everybody’s Got a Story,” in March 2021.
She hasn’t slowed down since.
“As things are getting back to normal, I’ve been recording new music,” she says. “Some of that will be released this year. Lately, I’ve been with the band getting ready for upcoming shows.”
Shepherd’s new music showcases her growth since winning the 15th season of NBC’s “The Voice.”
“I’ve not written any of the new songs,” she says. “I’m still working on my confidence in writing. It’s hard to write and I’ll get there.”
Shepherd, 19, and her team have turned to professional songwriters for the new material and she feels she has some great songs. She will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 8, at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe.
One of the songs, “Looking for Loretta,” was posted on TikTok and gained a lot of likes.
“I love paying homage to the old classics and that’s one of the songs I’m most excited for,” she says. “I feel like the lyrics give light to who I am today.”
Shepherd’s performance at the Lensic will also benefit the Tutors to Teachers program, which is a non-profit organization created to help address an ominous teacher shortage in New Mexico.
Tutors to Teachers was created in October 2021 by Louise Yakey, a retired New York schoolteacher who came to New Mexico to continue her teaching career. She created Tutors to Teachers to make a dent in the teacher shortage statewide.
“The program is designed to give high school and college students an opportunity to work directly with children to see the impact they could have on children as teachers before making a commitment to the profession,” said Yakey. “Tutors with (the program) are involved in an internship-type experience because they are trained, nurtured and supported.”
The Tutors to Teachers pipeline provides high school and college students employment opportunities to tutor in their free time where they obtain support and guidance with hands on experience while receiving expert mentorship from educated professionals in the field all while continuing their education in high school or college. If the teaching profession is a fit for the tutors, they seek higher education and eventually pursue a degree in education to establish a career in the field in New Mexico.
“When I’ve done tutoring programs in the past, there wasn’t as much of a focus on training as there is now,” says Yakey. “As I’ve been developing my skills in tutoring programs, I’ve seen that we’ve needed more training.
“So now, in addition to their background checks, they’re getting training in community building and leadership, reading and math strategies, drug and violence prevention, and they also get time with a financial planner who explains to them what their paycheck looks like and what comes out of a paycheck. The tutors get training on those topics for the professional aspects of being a teacher. They also spend about four hours a week with children in the schools, either after school, during school, Saturdays online, or they can be online and in person.”
Shepherd is always looking to help in philanthropic avenues.
She’s looking forward to the concert because it will be helping New Mexicans.
“Performing in the state of New Mexico is always special for me,” Shepherd says. “Every chance I get, it’s a way to give back to the people that have supported me since the beginning. I’m a product of New Mexico and when I can help out, it makes me feel amazing.”
Until her album is released later this year, Shepherd keeps busy with posting on her social media accounts.
“Adulting is definitely hard,” she says. “Being active on social media made the time go by faster and staying at home easier. Coming up with content is like a full-time job. I’m learning it slowly but it’s a platform that helps me grow my audience. It helps me connect to my fans and it’s important.”