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Shannon Yarbrough

The tragic story of Shannon Yarbrough begins and ends in Little Rock, Arkansas. Yarbrough grew up there, playing in rock bands called Five-O and The Big Cats during his late teens and early 20s, before heading off to New York City in 1997. There, amid the noise and chaos of the Big Apple, Yarbrough holed up, recording music alone on an 8-track and working occasionally with friends from Little Rock, gradually discovering his gift for gentle, introspective pop songwriting. After a couple of years of making music in New York, Yarbrough returned to Little Rock and started working with friends there on a new recording project called Rusty James.

Very early in the morning of May 7, 2000, Yarbrough was driving home from a show downtown when his car struck a bulldozer parked in the middle of the road as a malicious prank. The car caught fire and Yarbrough died almost instantly. He was 24.

In his memory, a group of friends put together a two disc CD titled Listen to What I'm Made Of: Songs by and for Shannon Yarbrough. The first CD consists of Yarbrough songs recorded alone, with friends, and with The Big Cats and Rusty James. The disc contains some great rockers from Yarbrough's time with The Big Cats, but for the most part the songs possess a quiet, pretty, intensely thoughtful tenor. Yarbrough's gentle, assured voice shines with poignant intimacy; it's fragile and light, but inflected with a tremendous amount of experience and understanding of life. "Unknown Brooklyn" is one of the New York songs, a gorgeously simple piece of yearning lo-fi pop he recorded over a sampled drum loop provided by his friend and former fellow Big Cat Colin Brooks

The second disc consists of 19 songs written and recorded by Yarbrough's friends across the country to celebrate his life. Listen to What I'm Made Of is a beautiful, vibrant tribute honoring Yarbrough's obvious passion for music.

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