STOW – Crediting hard work and patience, a lifetime resident and senior music education major at Kent State University has won recognition for an original song.

Shelby Olive, 22, was the winner of the grand prize Oct. 7 at the 2017 Downtown Akron's High Arts Festival in the music category. She graduated from Stow-Munroe Falls High School in 2013.

Olive, who doesn't use her last name of Denton professionally, entered her original song, "More Than Ink." As grand prize winner, she received $5,000 and the opportunity to perform at Jilly's Music Room in a cabaret-style performance.

"I couldn't have done it without the support of my friends and fans in and around Akron, including the many Kent and Stow residents who made the trip to Akron to vote for me," Olive said.

A self-employed musician for six years, Olive said it was an honor to be recognized for "More Than Ink." Independent artists write, record, book and promote their music, which can become overwhelming, especially when going to college.

"Receiving this award has reminded me that hard work pays off and patience is everything," Olive said. "If you voted for me, if you come to my gigs, if you've bought any of my music, if you tell any of your friends about my music, I am forever in debt to you."

A date hasn't been set for her performance at Jilly's, but fans can follow Olive on social media.

"I wrote 'More Than Ink' at a time when I was really disappointed in human nature," Olive said. "Humans have the capability of being the most empathetic and compassionate creatures on this planet, but in the same breath, humans also have the capability of being the most hurtful and destructive creatures on this planet."

Olive said she has learned words have "weight" and "power" and people often speak without thinking, hurting each other.

"This song serves as a reminder to myself and others that in this broken world, we should choose kindness always," she said.

Olive's debut album "Make Sound" is being produced by Wes McCraw at Creekside Audio in Norton, Olive said.

"He is an incredibly talented recording engineer with a state-of-the-art studio," she said. "Music comes so naturally to him, so working with him is a breeze."

The album includes a track recorded with Kent State University professor Ian Anderson, Olive said. Featured on the album are local musician friends of Olive, including KSU professor Chris Venesile on piano, Stow resident Matt McCombs on piano and Cameron Stebbins on cello.

"I love collaborating with other artists that I trust and look up to, so I'm thrilled they get to be part of this album," Olive said.

Hard copies of the album will be available in December for purchase online and at live shows, she said. The album will be released digitally in the future.

Olive will graduate with a degree in music education from Kent State University on Dec. 16 and is currently student teaching at Norton Middle School and High School.

"While I love teaching, it doesn't feel like 'my time' just yet," Olive said. "There is so much I want to do as a songwriter, and I know I will regret it if I never fully pursue it. Winning this festival definitely came at a perfect time in my life and has given me lots of energy and inspiration to start going 'full force' into making music."

Olive said she plans to use some of the award money to take her album on tour in 2018 and is looking for venues.

"Ultimately my goal it to spread my music throughout Northeast Ohio and beyond," she said.

Also in 2018, Olive plans to marry her middle school sweetheart in July and will be making wedding plans when she isn't playing her music.

The High Arts Festival,, celebrates local artists and has a competition based on popular vote using the High Arts Festival app. Artist can enter three categories, visual arts, film and music, and each category had a grand prize winner, a runner-up and a juried winner.

All three grand prize winners and the juried prize winners will go on a two-day bus tour to Detroit to learn from, be inspired by and network with the local arts community.

To engage Akron area residents and to elevate the Akron arts community, the High Arts Festival expanded from Akron Art Prize into a 23-day celebration of local artists and multiple art forms. This was possible through a Knight Arts Challenge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation that spans two years. The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation in Hudson, the philanthropic organization behind the creation of Akron Art Prize, continues their support of the High Arts Festival.

The festival ran Sept. 15 through Oct. 7 at Summit Artspace, The Nightlight, Jilly’s Music Room, Musica and Uncorked Wine Bar. A total of 117 visual art entries, 23, 60-second film entries and 33 musical entries were received. $24,000 in prize money was awarded to the winners.

As part of the Knight Arts Challenge grant, High Arts Festival will add the category of non-musical performing art to the 2018 event.


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