NEPA native to perfrom in NYC

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First Posted: 11/6/2014

Frank Shiner was born to be a singer, but sometimes you have to step away from your dreams to make them a reality.

He grew up in Mountain Top and was a constant at his family’s bakery, Shiner’s Bakery, on Dana St. in Wilkes-Barre. Shiner attended Kings College as a theatre major. His roots have always been in NEPA.

To him, there is no friendlier area and it is what gave him his confidence to follow his dreams. “It is easier when you are jumping off a solid platform,” Shiner said. “Family is what this area represents.”

Shiner’s family always gave their full support even when they probably should have backed down. This support gave him the confidence he needed to venture off to New York City after he graduated. Even his father, who wanted to pass on the family business, gave his blessing. He told his son to follow his heart. Shiner took the advice and ran with it.

“The day I graduated, I started packing my bags,” Shiner said. “I had $600 in my pocket and just walked into New York City. If my kids wanted to do that today, I’d tell them they were crazy. But, that’s just what I did.”

Shiner left for the city 30 years ago and worked hard to stay there. When he first arrived in the “Big Apple” he had little money, but a big dream.

Shiner lived at a Catholic Hospice, where he worked for $5 an hour from about midnight to 8 a.m. He ran an elevator and took phone calls. He sent headshots and resumes out by the hundreds and eventually got an agent and a manager. Gigs started to come in and he ran his life like a successful business.

If his early success wasn’t enough to tell Shiner he was right were he was supposed to be, meeting the love of his life six months into his New York tenure was.

“When I moved there I was 22 years old and convinced I was going to play the field and meet all these girls,” Shiner said. “But when I met my wife in acting class, I was done. That was it.”

His wife and eventual family caused him to step back from the music scene. He realized he needed to support his family so he took a sales job with an electronics company and eventually started his own company which employs around 80 people.

It was his wife, Suzanne, who got him back to singing. She had been diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer and the family went through a hard time. The couple went to an open mic night and the rest, as they say, is history.

“It had been 15 years since I had sang in front of people,” Shiner said. “I joke and tell her that she pulled the ‘cancer card,’ but I couldn’t tell her no. She was almost in tears when she asked me to sing.”

The sound of her husband’s voice was made her smile. He got up on stage, sang three songs and the band asked Shiner to sing with them.

“There’s a different creative element to singing when you are just doing it for the love of it,” he said.

The resurgence to music and melodies is something of which Shiner is determined to be a part. His voice is what he uses. No electronic elements, no alterations. Just his songs, from his heart.

“This is something that is personal to me,” he said. “I believe we went, and are still going through, a period of music where it’s all electronic. Everything is fake and not true. Singers are picked for their looks not for their vocals. But I see a change from that and believe the music industry is moving back to real music.

“If I can get a message across of hope or move the audience in some way, I’m happy,” Shiner said. “I sing songs that are personal to me. I want people to know that life isn’t over till it’s over. My problems aren’t bigger or smaller than anyone else’s, we all go through things.”

Shiner’s tour kicked off in July at 54 Below, the old Studio 54, where he was sandwiched between Jane Lynch and Patti LuPone. “I was floored,” he said. The place sold out and the owner offered him another gig which he gladly accepted. He will be playing at 9:30 p.m., Nov. 29, at 54 Below, 254 W 54th St., New York, New York.

Check out Shiner’s music at and on Facebook at Frank Shiner Music. His music is also available on iTunes, Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.