Behind the Beat: From Soul to Sound

Since 1931, when the passage of a new law eased the process of acquiring a marriage license in Nevada, many couples have chosen Las Vegas as their go-to wedding destination. However, the search for a place to have a quick and easy ceremony isn’t the only reason Holyoke singer and songwriter Shanta Paloma is planning a trip to Sin City with her fiance, artist Matt Orefice.

“Matt asked me to marry him last summer,” says Paloma. “We were talking about doing it in Las Vegas, and I said, ‘Hey, let’s do a tour on our way there. We can try and raise money for the wedding.’”

Paloma has high hopes for the venture, dubbed The Badass & Baroque Tour to Las Vegas, especially if she prevails in an online vocal performance contest in which the winner receives $100,000.

“If I had that money, I could get a troupe of artists and musicians together and pay them to go on tour,” Paloma says. “I could then book shows across the country more easily, because I could tell the venues that money from the ticket sales would go to a local agency, fund, or organization that supports art and music education. To me, it’s a win-win situation for everybody.” (View Shanta’s contest video at

Closer to home, Paloma also has big plans for another upcoming event—a CD release party for her debut album, which she celebrates at The Elevens in Northampton on April 11.

Despite ties to the Valley music scene that date back to her time as a student at Pioneer Valley Performing Arts charter school, Paloma says the performance will mark her first-ever appearance with her current band—featuring members Jesse Mushenko (bass), Wes Bourque (drums), Andrew St. Jean (electric guitar), Nicki Feldman St. James (harmony vocals) and Sara Fila (cello)—and will also include artwork from Orefice, who will paint live during the show.

Paloma says, “Matt’s art is really some of my very favorite. My album cover is actually made with two paintings he did of me. He is also pretty buff and a damn good roadie. Plus he plays real mean air guitar solos when I need them.”

Speaking of fretwork real and imagined, listeners will find much to appreciate upon hearing some of Paloma’s “retro rock” in recorded form. Tracks like “Little Girl (Yadedai)” and “Sweet Cheeks” utilize gentle acoustic guitar strumming to underscore lyrics about seemingly innocent subjects, while the more alt-rock-influenced songs “Unspoken” and “Bad Monkey” betray Paloma’s early love for groups like Nirvana and Hole.

“Putting together this album was both the next level in my learning, and it was closure for all that came before it,” she says. “I’ve changed, and doing everything I had to do to make this debut album has prepared me for the next step. The dream is to go from soul to sound.”•


Shanta Paloma celebrates the release of her debut album April 11 at 8 p.m. $10 admission includes free CD. The Elevens, 140 Pleasant St., Northampton,

For more information on Shanta Paloma, visit, or via Twitter @ShantaPaloma.

Author: Michael Cimaomo

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up for our daily newsletter!

You don't want to be left out, do you?

Sign up!

You have Successfully Subscribed!