often wonder if it’s the scariest challenges that offer the most
actually looking for an answer, I suppose in general terms it’s
true. After all, we could apply the idea to virtually any situation…
to virtually any dream. Overcoming fears of some type is normally
a significant part of the process when you reach for success.
thought occurred to me as I considered this interview with a terrific
lady… Miss Christina Shaw.
been just over four years since she and I first met. At the time,
we spoke in Connecticut. She was performing with Legends in
Concert, and we were both in attendance at the media night
for the show… her as a featured performer in the cast, and me
a representative of, well, the media. As she took the stage later
that evening she had been working with Legends for about
three months, and it had been roughly ten years since she first
delivered what could be viewed as a professional effort as an
had the pleasure of remaining in contact with her since those
shows in Connecticut. I had taken pictures during a few of the
performances, and she was kind enough to use some of them, as
well as to allow me to set up a
photo gallery here at In My Backpack.
And the funny thing is… the reason for that thought about whether
scary opportunities bring about amazing results… by staying in
touch with her, I think I’ve been able to see some pretty conclusive
evidence that quite often, following your dreams does indeed mean
facing your fears.
has parents that know the entertainment industry. Her father,
a musician and disc jockey, could offer plenty of insight about
performing for the public. Her mother, a performer and the owner
of an entertainment company, can provide experience from both
the stage and the business sides of the equation.
let’s pause for a moment to say hello to her parents. They’ve
raised an ambitious, talented, polite woman with significant accomplishments
already in place and a tremendous future ahead of her. Christina
repeatedly refers to their influence, support and assistance as
a significant in her development and career.)
even with such a solid foundation to rely upon for advice and
support, it was a decision to move permanently from Pennsylvania
and the east coast out to Las Vegas that provides us with that
glimpse of facing challenges and rising to the occasion.
was doing fine. But performing wasn’t paying the bills. At least
not all of them. It was what she wanted to do… personally and
professionally. Working as a singer though, especially in the
difficult market of tribute performances, isn’t easy as an occupation.
Even in a great city like Philadelphia, with a terrific surrounding
region, the offerings found Christina needing to work another
job to support herself. And that’s when she made a decision… to
take a chance, move to Las Vegas, and give herself the very best
opportunity to pursue the entertainment business full-time.
then… well, the smile on her face, the joy in her voice, and the
general appearance she presents tells you everything you need
to know about the results. Christina is happy and doing quite
is a great pleasure for me to present you with this interview
we recently completed… first though, allow me to introduce you
to Christina Shaw.
~ ~ ~
story begins in Pennsylvania, and features Britney Spears.
mother ran an entertainment business that often provided performers
for special events. Occasionally, her young daughter came along
to some of them and got to sing a song or two.
one particular day, they received a call from Jill. She was a
mother trying to plan a birthday party for her daughter with a
Britney Spears theme, and wanted someone to sing and maybe even
play some games with the kids.
Britney provided the start of tribute performances for her. Keeping
in mind a collection of several key factors… some of the main
thoughts being the music she enjoyed, her voice and vocal range,
and her ability to present a similar look… she began to build
on her first effort by arranging pieces around Britney, Christina
Aguilera, and Shakira. She knew the songs… heck, she loved the
songs. What she spent her time doing was studying the visual aspects
of performing, learning their routines, and assembling the best
sets she could.
was working with Legends in Concert.
She spent several of the summer months of that year with Legends
in Las Vegas, and in August she arrived in Connecticut with the
show. As she put it at the time: “I love it here. Funny story,
I got to drive up from Philly and have my own car with me. One
of the problems I’ve faced when traveling for performances before
is not being old enough to rent a car, so being somewhat close
to home and having it here is a bonus.”
Christina, working with Legends was bittersweet. Not
if you ask her, mind you. Legends is recognized as the
top of the tribute performance industry. Being a part of their
cast has been incredibly special for her, and she is quite justifiably
proud of being a part of the group. She would not use the word
bittersweet, nor should she.
at the end of the run in Connecticut, she returned home to her
regular job. And she faced a fairly daunting realization… if she
wanted to give her career as a performer a real chance of full-time
success, she probably needed to move.
in 2011, she did… to Las Vegas… with a one-way ticket and a couple
she moved, her professional endeavors have become… to say the
least… in demand. She frequently plays multiple gigs on a single
evening, and is delivering many shows and professional efforts
outside of those based on impersonations. She is performing on
stages and attending events throughout the area, including emceeing,
hosting karaoke, modeling, and working with live bands. She often
can be found at red carpet events, and Christina’s engagements
usually take place at the most recognizable locations along the
over to her web site -- The
Many Faces of Christina Shaw -- and you can
get all sorts of information about this wonderful lady. You can
see the many terrific impersonations she has performed, including
photographs and song selections over the years.
Vegas is now her home. Actually, quite literally… in 2014 she
became a homeowner. (Congratulations!) And overall, things are
the first step to realizing your dreams is the hardest. I’m guessing
Christina would tell you to take that step.
now, the In My Backpack interview with Christina Shaw…
~ ~ ~
start with the beginning -- What are some of your first memories
of singing, and then, of performing? And what brought about the
decision to pursue entertaining and singing professionally?
first memories of singing are from a very young age. My mother
was in Sweet Charity when I was 4. I would go to the
rehearsals and would pick up most of the lyrics and even mimic
the dance routines. (Here
is a funny video if you want a good laugh.)
mother also owned an entertainment company, and would herself
perform at kids parties. Sometimes she would bring me, and I would
perform a song at the parties.
and dancing is in my blood. My dad was a drummer and a DJ, and
my mom was a dancer and model too. Since they were both in the
entertainment industry I knew that is what I wanted to do!
there a style of music, or group of entertainers, that you consider
particularly influential to you?
up as a child I always loved to sing Mariah Carey. Then when the
Spice Girls came out, I loved dancing and singing to their music.
And of course later in high school I loved *NSYNC, Britney and
Christina, and spent endless hours learning all of the dance moves
from their live performances. I would wear out the video tapes
because I would rewind them so many times trying to learn every
obstacles did you need to overcome… what were some of the biggest
challenges you faced… in getting a professional career started?
biggest obstacle I needed to overcome was being so young in the
impersonator business. Some agents wouldn’t even give me a chance
because of my age, which I find funny since I was only a few years
younger then the real Britney herself. When I went to my first
impersonator convention in Vegas I was 20, and I couldn’t even
check into the hotel because I was underage. I would do big gigs
with a lot of veteran impersonators, and it was very nerve racking
to impress them and the clients.
of your professional efforts are tribute performances… and you
have taken on some of the most iconic and legendary ladies around.
What brought about your start as a tribute artist?
years ago, a woman by the name of Jill was having a Britney Spears
themed party for her daughter and wanted someone to sing and maybe
play some games with her daughter and her friends. She called
my mother’s entertainment company looking for someone to sing
some Britney tunes. As my mother’s wheels got turning, we put
a whole show together for these 7-year-old kids that turned out
to be bigger than we ever imagined. Little did we know what a
huge industry impersonating actually was. Later that year I added
Christina Aguilera and Shakira. The next year I added Faith Hill.
that lady had never called my mom, I wonder what I would be doing
are some of your favorite songs to perform? And, what are some
of the biggest challenges you face in creating a show where so
much is involved in capturing the voice, look and mannerisms of
very well-known performers?
as Britney, my favorite song to do is “I’m A Slave 4 You”. The
dance routine is my favorite to perform. I also really enjoy “Me
Against The Music”. It’s not one of her most popular songs, but
the dance routine in that is also super fun to perform!
as Christina, I love singing “Ain’t No Other Man”. I love the
old school feeling of the song, and performing as her comes most
naturally to me. Also, I enjoy “Fighter”. That song gets angry
and has a loud and clear message!
as Faith, I love singing “When The Lights Go Down”. It’s not one
of her most popular single releases but the vocal energy in that
song is amazing to perform live. And “Let’s Make Love” is a great
duet when I get to sing with a Tim McGraw impersonator!
as Lady Gaga I really love playing “Poker Face” on the piano and
belting it out! Playing the piano was a new thing for me, I self-taught
myself through You Tube. I think of it as dancing with my fingers.
I impersonate someone I take it very seriously. I am not just
here to make a buck. I want to make you believe you are really
seeing the real thing, but then suddenly realize I am fooling
you. I watch everything from the way they walk, the way they hold
the mic, the exact dance moves AND how each one performs their
moves, their lip movements, the way they stand in pictures, the
way they tilt their head in pictures, and the list goes on and
on. They all have a unique way of letting you know that this is
who I am trying to be. Also, with so many characters, I always
brush up on the artist before the gig, and always like to watch
a live performance right before I got on stage!
spoken with people that perform tributes, and for this question
I’ll use examples like Elvis and Michael Jackson. Consistently,
they note having some sort of daily connection with them. Many
of those working with Elvis’s material talk about listening to
his music every day, and often have favorite songs that only a
true fan might recognize. It’s usually not his hits. And someone
working with Michael Jackson’s catalog is constantly watching
performance footage and choreography. You are known for working
with an amazingly diverse set of material, and not just the material
of one person. What music is part of your daily life? And is there
one particular thing… say the voice, the wardrobe, the movements…
that you find is more of a focus of your preparations?
LOVE all the music of the artists I portray. I am a HUGE fan of
Britney and Christina. I could perform ANY of Britney’s songs
off of any of her albums, and can do most of the exact dance routines
from any of her album tracks. I also love a wide variety of music
including hip hop, rap, country, oldies and mainstream rock music.
So I’m not listening daily to one specific person, but they are
certainly part of my daily life.
also isn’t one particular thing for any of them that I really
focus on. If you look back at the last question, you’ll see what
I mean. I do take it seriously, and when you combine something
like my love of the artist and the material with something such
as learning about the movements, and that I enjoy impersonating
several artists, it really is a constant process where there can’t
be just one thing for any of them.
there any particular song you enjoy singing the most, or person
you enjoy impersonating the most?
really. Every show is different, and brings with it different
challenges and thrills.
will say though, when I perform with Legends as Christina
there is something special about it from the start that comes
from the entire production number. I love getting on stage, belting
out that opening high note of “Ain’t No Other Man”, and then having
the dancers come out.
want to bring up what may seem like a weird thought… a picture.
You and I met a few years ago when you were performing with Legends
in Concert. I had the pleasure of taking some photographs
of your performances, and one particular shot of mine (I am quite
humbled and proud to say) you have pointed out a few times as
being one you like. In it, Roberta and Tammy are there with you
in the center. At the risk of reading way too much into the shot,
I like it too… because I see so much more than a single moment.
I think about how you work with a band, singers and dancers. I
think about the choreography and rehearsal that go into each song,
from the songs to the production efforts. I don’t know if there’s
anything in particular you’d like to mention about that picture
specifically… I am wondering if you can say a bit about exactly
what it takes to select a song or set of songs, develop a performance
around that number, and then bring it in front of an audience.
picture you took of me on the stage at Foxwoods is BY FAR one
of my favorite photos ever taken of me. It is actually my profile
picture on Facebook as I write this. That picture shows the last
pose after singing the last song from that set. After every show
of singing and dancing my heart out for that 12 minutes on stage,
that smile says “I did it” and can take a deep breath.
for the sets, it takes a lot of time and preparation for each
show. As I mentioned before, my dad was a DJ for years and I have
learned the art of properly mixing music. I mix all of my own
music for the shows, and for each gig I make a custom medley.
This way, the client is able to hear all of the hits and not just
4 minutes of one song.
Legends they wanted me to start with the song “Dirrty”.
But before they had even mentioned that, I had already thought
about the whole set in my mind with the costumes being a big part
of the set as well. I didn’t want to sing “Dirrty” and come out
in leather chaps for my first song, then sing the soft ballad
“Beautiful”. After explaining to them my idea of coming out doing
“Ain’t No Other Man”, “Genie in a Bottle”, “Come On Over Baby”
(I would have rather done “Fighter”, but we comprised on “Come
On Over Baby”), and then changing into the leather outfit and
ending with “Dirrty”, they agreed that was a good choice and I
was able to do it the way that I had originally thought it out
in my mind!
an interesting point about how people might view song selection
and performance order differently, considering you often have
a limited time to make an impact and aren’t dealing with filling
think most people would think of certain songs right away, and
selecting songs can be quite an obvious process. Let’s take Christina.
If you only have a passing familiarity with her, you’d still quickly
come up with “Genie In A Bottle” and “Beautiful” as musts.
part of being an impersonator. People seeing a show from an impersonator
are looking for the hits. And if you only have ten to fifteen
minutes, you have to go to them and fit in as many as you can.
So I do look at what songs were the first hits for a performer,
and research which songs were number one the longest or went the
highest on the charts.
there is more to it. You want to think about the order of the
songs. You want to be aware of the audience, who you might be
working with, and all of the other details from the costumes to
that your tributes can vary in ways they reach an audience… let’s
consider the huge voice of Christina Aguilera to the visual aspects
of Lady Gaga as examples… do you have a preference for the type
of stage you feel most comfortable on?
I have no preference on what type of stage I perform on. I could
be in a living room performing for a die-hard Britney fan, or
on a huge stage such as when we first met while I was performing
with Legends in Connecticut. Anywhere that I can sing,
at that moment, is my favorite stage, big or small.
are some of your favorite moments from your career? And, how do
fans and audiences respond when you get to speak with them?
favorite moment in my career was definitely performing with Legends
in Concert! Having that amazing live band and all of those
perfect dancers around you really makes you feel like the star
that you are portraying!
time, I had an older lady and her even older mother come up to
me at one of the shows in Vegas. She said “My mother doesn’t know
who Christina Aguilera is, but she does now and you were her favorite.”
It was so great!
you get that kind of interaction and feedback from people often?
fortunate that I can say yes, and I really enjoy it. Taking pictures,
signing tickets, and just getting to speak with people can be
the thing. I started impersonating with a party for kids. With
Legends, there is a live band, singers, and dancers on
the stage. I still get to perform for kids, I do private events,
and all sorts of different gigs. The production may differ, it’s
still always nice to see that the audience enjoyed the show.
back to the pictures I took for one moment, there is something
that really strikes me about seeing you on stage. It’s your smile.
You are always smiling. In fact, in all of the pictures I checked
out, the only ones without you smiling were obviously very intense
moments of a song. There’s the smile, and what always appears
to be eye contact with someone in the audience… you have a very
dynamic presence on stage. It’s a bubbly “I’m really enjoying
this” kind of personality that I don’t think can be taught. What’s
going through your mind at times during a performance? Do you
get to enjoy it as much as it appears, or are you more focused
on hitting your marks and remembering the words?
is my favorite question, Bob. I am so blessed with my career and
life in general, and that is why I am truly always smiling.
always try to make eye contact with as many people as possible
when I perform, to let them know that I am grateful for them being
there and listening to me perform. There are a million things
going on in my mind when I am performing… probably not enough
room here to even write it all down.
asked about favorites earlier, and as I think about this question
I think I need to add Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful”. That song
is my favorite to really, truly, get into the words when I perform.
I really get into that song, so much so it almost makes me cry
every time I sing it in front of audience. The message is so strong
and I want everyone to hear the words, and really feel what the
song is saying to them (and to me for that matter).
handing you a microphone and letting you design the rest, from
the band backing you to the cast supporting you to the set list
you’ll perform. When houselights go down and the curtain rises,
what kind of show would we get from Christina Shaw?
number one priority in a performance is to make everyone have
a good time. It’s that simple.
will jump up and down like a monkey or make a funny face to get
a person to smile or clap their hands. I am truly there for them
to be entertained.
favorite part of performing is going out into the crowd. I love
high-fiving people, and even giving them the microphone to sing
a line. I’ve even had a dance off with someone in the middle of
they have a good time, I have a good time, and THAT is what matters
the most! I said it before, and it works here as well… anywhere
I can sing is my favorite stage, so let’s all have a good time.
should people look for from you in the future? And, how can someone
follow your schedule, see you in person, and enjoy and support
will be entertaining until I can’t physically put on makeup anymore!
have been working very hard on establishing my own entertainment
company, called Many Faces Entertainment. Since 2010, I have been
booking impersonators (not just myself). And since coming to Vegas
I now even book dancers, models and princesses (following in my
love every aspect of entertaining, including the business side
of it, from the booking of the gigs to even contracting the gigs.
And since I am a performer myself I feel as though I am a good
agent in getting the performers what they want and need from a
for my schedule, it is ALWAYS changing. Most of the gigs I do
are corporate events and don’t allow for tickets to be sold. But
if I am singing at local piano bar or a gig that is open to the
public I always will post it on Facebook!
~ ~ ~
want to thank Christina for all of her time and consideration.
In addition to meeting in person for an interview a while ago,
a great deal of this piece was developed through e-mail exchanges.
I simply cannot fully express my gratitude for her participation,
time, and assistance. It was an absolute pleasure meeting her,
interviewing her and photographing her work, and an even greater
privilege to work with her specifically on this project.
is a talented woman and busy lady that currently delivers professional
tribute acts for a number of singers, including Christina Aguilera,
Britney Spears, Faith Hill, and Lady Gaga. As noted in this effort,
she is also providing efforts hosting shows, modeling, and appearing
at events. Here are some places where you can learn more…
Many Faces of Christina
Shaw on Instagram
Shaw at Facebook
Shaw at You Tube
Shaw page at Legends in Concert
Christina Shaw photo gallery at In My Backpack
pictures you see in this article are a combination of images
provided by Christina Shaw and taken by Bob Hocking during performances
with Legends in Concert. Christina was involved in the approval
of all images used in this article, and previously worked with
Bob in selecting the images used for the photo gallery on this
site, and she granted permission for the use of the pictures
where rights are not held by Bob Hocking and In My Backpack.
rights to these pictures are protected. They cannot be used
for any other purpose without the appropriate written permission(s)
from Christina Shaw and/or Bob Hocking. As a matter of convenience,
Christina and Bob request that you use the e-mail details on
this page and for In My Backpack if you have questions or would
like additional information about any of the material involved
in this effort.