Versatile singer/songwriter Josh Shilling boasts an impressive combination of experience and musicianship, belying his youth. Shilling's musical forays have been diverse and considerable, ranging from jazz and funk-tinged ensembles to soul and contemporary country, jam-band and folk projects.
A Martinsville, Virginia native, he began playing the piano at a mere 7 years old. As a child, his voracious musical study traversed rock, jazz and classic country. He matured into a skilled pianist and Hammond B3 player whose playing style capably relays honky-tonk, rock, funk, soul, gospel, jazz or folk grooves. Shilling also developed steadily as a guitarist, while honing his natural emotional vocal ability.
As a teenager, Shilling fielded offers to tour nationally with professional bands, and at 17, he graduated high school one year early to begin his musical pursuits. He began traveling with The Kings, a successful regional band from Roanoke, Virginia. The deceptively junior new member stunned audiences with his soulful vocals and confidence. Subsequent gigs soon followed with nationally touring artists including Cimmaron, country star Billy "Crash" Craddock and Chicago's Bill Champlin, who proclaimed Shilling "has the potential to be one of the greats."
Esteemed trumpet and trombone player Mic Gillette also enlisted Shilling's services. Stints with The Funky Loophole that featured members of group Tower of Power, along with Balancing Act and crowd-pleasers The Embers, expanded his musical palate. His collaborations with Gillete prompted the revered musician to dub Shilling the "real deal." Continually perfecting his sound and delivery, he began to perform at least 200 dates a year.
His 2005 collaboration with Detroit-based Balancing Act led to resounding affirmation of Shilling's songwriting skills. In addition to providing lead vocals and keyboard work, he penned several compositions for the group's album. One of the tunes attracted the attention of MTV, who obtained licenses to incorporate the song into episodes of popular shows "Punk'd" and "Making the Video."
2007 found Shilling joining acclaimed bluegrass ensemble Mountain Heart. His robust vocals, evolving signature piano stylings and nimble guitar work enhance the group's rich acoustic sound. Noted music journalist Jon Weisberger praised Shilling's addition to the band: "He's going to fit right in with Mountain Heart's signature sound, while bringing some new dimensions to their music...there's no apparent limit to the upper end of his range." The same year, Shilling wrote or co-wrote all of the four new songs featured on the group's live album, The Road That Never Ends, including project's title track, which reached the forth slot on Billboard's bluegrass chart.
Mountain Heart's January 2007 appearance on the Grand Ole Opry introduced Shilling to an eagerly receptive crowd; after singing one of his original songs, he earned a standing ovation and encore that evening - a rarity and intoxicating distinction for any artist on that revered stage. Since that night, Shilling has played on the Opry over 50 times, toured as part of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 2008 summer tour, toured with artists like The Marshall Tucker Band, The Avett Brothers, The Lee Boys, The Traveling McCoury’s, legendary guitarist Tony Rice and many many more.
July 31, 2012 marked the official release of Shilling’s debut solo project Letting Go. After years of writing songs for other bands, recording as a featured artist on dozens of CDs, and touring relentlessly solo and with acts like Mountain Heart, Shilling meticulously selected songs from his catalog and set out to produce and release a project on his own. Rave reviews poured in as listeners and supporters downloaded and ordered the project. Many of which say this in so many words:
“Before you click purchase, let me warn you; if you like your music synthesized, auto-tuned, watered down and brain-less, move along. But if you enjoy well-written lyrics and music and emotional vocal performances, buy this CD now. These are quality performances by real musicians. Just be careful where you leave this CD lest it gets stolen”
Now based in Nashville, Shilling continues to perform with Mountain Heart while pursuing his solo career. When he’s not working as a studio musician or writing for new projects, guest appearances with artists who inspire him also line his schedule. "I always try to be involved with something that's truly special - something innovative," Shilling explains. "I want to be part of something that's real. No matter what style it's rooted in, I want the music and experience to be heartfelt and authentic." He embraces music in its totality: His fierce immersion in one genre is enhanced by his passion for the others. Young but prodigious, Josh Shilling's future promises both success and tireless innovation guaranteed to delight music lovers all over the world.