Looking for something to listen to while I cooked dinner last night, I went through my music library and selected a CD that I hadn't heard in ages: a three track promo by then-fifteen year old singer/songwriter Shelby Starner. It served to plug her upcoming 1998 album From in the Shadows and I most likely got it during my stint as music director of my college's radio station. After dinner I hit my absolute favorite internet time waster - the All Music Guide - to see what she's been up to lately. My jaw dropped when I read the following:
Starner's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and Starner decided to retreat from music to refocus her life around her family. Not long after, she entered treatment for bulimia. Starner continued treatment over the next two years, but tragically Starner's body gave in to the detriments of her long bout with bulimia and she died on June 22, 2003 only two months before she was to begin her freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh.
I wasn't in a "glass case of emotion" (as I am EVERY time I watch Big Fish), but I did get a little lump in my throat. It's a weird feeling to get emotional over the death of someone you don't even know. It rarely happens to me. The deaths of Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Stewart, Bradley Nowell (of Sublime), Jam Master Jay (of Run-DMC) - these are all people that I admired and/or enjoyed their works, but their deaths elicited little more than a "that's a real shame" from me. So, I can't explain why I felt this way last night. Strange.
A google search for Starner brought up 50 pages of results and I went through them all. There was no real substantive information about her. A fansite that hadn't been updated since 1999 here. A brief mention of her passing by a friend there. That's about it. So, I figured I'd use this post as a tribute to a talented life cut too short. Her songwriting and voice belied her young age.
I will send an mp3 of her song "You" to anyone that wants it - just leave your e-mail address in a comment to this post. It's a sad, but pretty song with just some strings and her on piano.