Photo courtesy of Shane Thomas
Shane Thomas’ love for music began as a child when his babysitter would come over each morning, and put Elvis records and movies on for the two to listen to before his bus ride to school.
Nowadays, he advises both new and familiar students every day; however, this does not stop him from breaking out the occasional cover or catchy tune for his coworkers and students whenever he can.
Thomas says he’s been a lover of music all his life and a musician ever since he could pick up his dad’s guitar.
“I remember thinking ‘man, this is such a cool way to live,’” he said. “This guy got to walk around with a guitar and sings and all these people love him.”
Thomas said his grandfather, who was also a musician, played a big part in his yearning to pursue music as well. It was that inspiration, paired with long days of living in the country and plenty of time to practice when Thomas said he really got into playing.
Today, he says he still finds inspiration from his past with artists like Prince, The Temptations, Willie Nelson and Bruce Springsteen. Thomas said it’s really other songwriters who inspire him when he’s practicing and writing his own.
“I’ve always been fascinated by people mixing words and music together,” Thomas said.
Thomas has been writing music his whole life, keeping old notebooks full of songs over the years. He said though it may seem silly to keep, it’s a sentimental practice he adopted for others to someday find.
He also has a YouTube channel where he has posted videos of himself playing original songs and covers from other artists, as well as a Spotify and Apple Music account to help market his music. Currently, there are just a few posted on each platform, but he says he plans to record more music soon.
Despite the joy that music and songwriting bring Thomas, he says most of what he does is for other people. He plays for events all over campus, from Welcome Week to the annual Moonlight Breakfast, hoping to get IUS students and staff to gather and sing along. He is scheduled to make an appearance on Horizon Radio this month for a live show. Thomas says his main goal is to make people smile with what he does, something he seems to do fairly well.
“He attends all kind of campus events and mingles with students, helping them connect to the university … He makes me smile; he makes students smile; he makes IU Southeast shine, and is one of the best people I know,” Kim Pelle, manager of the Adult Student Center, said of Thomas. “Honestly, it is because of people like Shane that I love coming to work every day.”
His drive to be there for others also comes in handy for him when talking to students about their degrees. He says often times students come to ACES for guidance and talk to him about the things they are passionate about but don’t know how to move forward because they feel like their passion is not marketable. Hearing this mindset made Thomas want to push students to reach for that passion and make it a career. He says this is because his passion was something he feels he never had the chance to fully experience when he was younger.
Another friend of Thomas’, Levenia McDaniel, Student Services assistant, said his love of music and making a difference on campus has always been inspiring to her. McDaniel said Thomas has been the kind of friend to never let her down and pushed her to aspire for more.
“If anybody has any passion or thing that they enjoy doing, I want them to know to please pursue it no matter what. Don’t worry about the rewards or anything else. Just do it because you love doing it,” Thomas said.