The Colorado-born alternative-folk band SHEL, now based in Nashville, has joined forces with musician and composer Kevin Dailey to score Facebook’s new television series, Queen America, starring actress Catherine Zeta-Jones. The dark comedy, from independent studio Wiip and creator Meaghan Oppenheimer, will premiere on November 18 as part of social media on-demand service Facebook Watch.
Originally from Fort Collins, the SHEL sisters, Sarah, Hannah, Eva and Liza Holbrook, are known for their layered folk sound comprising elegant harmonies, the violin and mandolin, with tempos and tones that range from cheery and celebratory to haunting and intimate.
The sisters' music has appeared on television shows like CW's Riverdale and Showtime’s Shameless; Hannah and Dailey scored snowboarder Travis Rice’s adventure snowboarding film, Depth Perception.
But scoring and composing an entire television series is a first, and a milestone they consider worth celebrating.
“To be scoring this, especially with my sisters, is a definite dream come true,” says Hannah, who plays piano and keyboard and sings for the band.
Queen America is a dark comedy that follows the story of the legendary Miss America pageant coach Vicki Ellis, played by Zeta-Jones, embarking on her most challenging project yet: turning the hopeless Samantha, played by Bell Shouse, into a winner.
When music supervisor Anastasia Brown reached out to SHEL with news that she was working on the series and wanted the band to participate, the sisters felt that Queen America was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up.
“I think it’s a good fit, because [Brown] was such a big fan of the band. She shared [our music] with the director, with Facebook, and they were all on board," says Hannah. "They’re going for, like, a twisted fairy tale, a whimsical dark and funny thing, and the music just kind of fits.”
SHEL's members are also thrilled to be working on the soundtrack with Dailey, who spent time as a member of Civil Twilight and is now running his independent musician-run recording studio, Pioneer Sound.
"We record with him, and he’ll tweak it as we get feedback from the director and the rest of the crew," Hannah says. "We’re really lucky to have him, and he’s made it fun and easy for us."
The Holbrooks are optimistic about continuing their career as SHEL while also scoring and composing for film and television — a goal that goes back to their childhood.
“I see it as part of what we do," says Hannah. "It’s kind of the skill set that we have, because we’re composers and were musicians before we were ever singers and songwriters. Composing comes very naturally, but we love being on the road, touring; we love releasing albums, as well. I think it’s just a part of what we do, and we’d love to do more of it, for sure.”