On the Flip Side with Frank Shiner

Tapasvi Vibhute
·5-min read

Early Life

Frank Shiner was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on December 8, 1960, until his parents decided to move the family to the nearby town of Mountain Top when he was four years old. As a child, he would often play out in nature, in the woods on mini bikes and motorcycles. It was here that music first became an integral part of his life. One of his earliest memories is listening to his parent’s jazz and country albums. Although he often reflects on listening to his parent’s albums out of boredom being in the country, however, today, Frank is grateful for it, having shaped his musical style.

He would sing in front of groups of family and friends at various gatherings and occasions. Shiner’s first taste of performance had him hooked for a lifetime in entertainment. One of his most memorable experiences being when he performed Tom Jones’ “What’s New Pussycat“ in a school variety show. From here, he went on to be cast as Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady at Bishop Hoban High School. Frank took up various other extracurriculars such as chorus, seasonal singers, swim team, and Theatre. Soon after graduation, he decided to follow a more practical pathway and enrolled to study government/pre-law at Kings College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In his first semester, he switched to major in Theatre. Throughout the 1980s, in the early part of his career, Frank had recurring roles on some of daytime television’s hit soap operas, All My Children, One Life to Live, Guiding Light, and Another World.

Frank’s Time Away from Music

The life of a budding musician isn’t always easy. No matter how talented you are or how motivated you become, success is never guaranteed. Frank Shiner struggled financially, living in New York cost a lot of money, classes were expensive, and he hadn’t yet “made it” in the entertainment business. He decided to put his growing family first and his musical ambitions on the back burner. This time was not without its struggles. Unfortunately, his wife faced a battle with triple-negative breast cancer. One night, on the way home from her chemotherapy, they had stopped at a restaurant where there was an open mic jazz night. His wife, Suzanne, forced him up onto the stage to sing. Frank performed three songs and was offered a job to sing with a jazz group. With Suzanne’s unwavering encouragement, he took the job. That was his first step back into the music and entertainment industries. Now, he has launched the career of his dreams, and his wife is 100% cured!

Those Who Have Shaped and Supported Frank Shiner

Shiner states, “Of course, I wouldn’t have made it where I am without the help of others. Foremost, the unwavering support of my wife and family. I owe so much of my career and the man I am today to Carl Wagner and Joel Friedman. Carl was the head of the theatre department at King College. We’re still in contact, and he’s been like a second father to me. His influence has lasted my entire life. Joel was the co-founder of The Public Theatre in New York with Joseph Papp. He was a stickler and wouldn’t let me get away with anything “fake.” Despite this, he always instructed with a kind and generous soul. I am entirely grateful to them both. I must mention Gary Katz, who produced my first album, along with eight Steely Dan albums and Donald Fagin’s solo album, “Kamakiriad.” He was so wonderful to work with and indulged me with enjoyable and helpful stories from his long career in the industry. Grammy Award winner Jay Newland produced my second album. Newland has won thirteen Grammys and worked with some of the greats in the industry. It was a wonderful experience. These men helped me create two albums that I love and get to share with all of you around the globe.”

A Note on Now…

Today, Frank Shiner is privileged enough to provide others with the escapism he has experienced through music for so many years. When he performs live for his audience, he aims to inspire appreciation and energy throughout his sets. He explains, “Live music has always done this for me. I write and create with my audience in mind. I want to stay connected with my listeners.”

He’s not often asked what ‘genre’ his music is, and while others struggle to define it, he would say it’s a mix between Georgie Woods’ “Blue-Eyed Soul” or what he calls “Elegant Blues.” Shiner explains, “I love the Blues!” He established “Frank Shiner Music,” and donates all proceeds and performances to various charities, including sponsoring children in performance camps, Theater restoration projects, schools for underprivileged children, and not-for-profit theater arts centers, just to name a few.

It feels wrong not to acknowledge the profound effect our current climate has had on the industry. “The COVID-19 pandemic has meant artists can no longer make money on tour. It pains me to see them struggling to pay their rent and provide basic necessities. As a chronic optimist, I believe we must have hope. We must hope that more art will be created during this time and that better days are coming soon,” Frank shared.

Advice for The Reader

“If you’re a musician reading this, I urge you to take care of your instrument! Whether you’re young or old, you need to treat your vocal cords like a baby. If you want longevity in this industry, you need to take care of your vocal cords.”

Frank Shiner’s Spotify Channel

Frank Shiner’s YouTube Channel