Shannon Stephens

A natural at crafting comforting, acoustic-based folk songs, indie songwriter Shannon Stephens started her career in the '90s while she attended Hope College in Michigan. After getting her feet wet as the leader of Marzuki -- a folky group whose members included Matt Haseltine, Jamie Kempkers, and a young Sufjan Stevens -- she began pursuing a solo career in 1999, with her former bandmates all launching their own projects as well. While Stevens made his solo debut with 2000's Sun Came -- the first album in his long, illustrious discography of chamber pop records -- Stephens finished Shannon Stephens, her self-titled debut. The album was largely ignored upon its release, however.

As Sufjan Stevens became a household name in the indie community, Shannon Stephens became a wife and a mother in Seattle, and she left music far behind for the majority of the decade. Her music wasn't forgotten, though; Paste Magazine championed her solo debut in a blog post spotlighting amazing, practically unheard albums, and Bonnie "Prince" Billy covered one of her songs on his 2008 album Lie Down in the Light. The following year, Stephens re-emerged from the Seattle underground to release her second album, The Breadwinner, on Stevens' own label, Asthmatic Kitty. One year after that, Asthmatic Kitty reissued her long-lost debut album, this time to a more appreciative audience. Stephens' third studio outing, Pull It Together, arrived in 2012 and featured a duet with Bonnie "Prince" Billy. ~ Jason Lymangrover

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