Last week I had the horrifying realization that the gap of deleted videos that had suddenly appeared in my “Slow and Sad” YouTube music playlist was due to the absence of my favorite heyitshannabelle videos.
heyitshannabelle is a YouTube cover musician who’s account opened in 2009. Her act may not have been unique to YouTube, but she had a particular way of deconstructing songs, recording the layers separately, and piecing them together, which gave her performances a truly beautiful quality. On any given song she might use the guitar, ukelele, xylophone, a toy keyboard, small rattles, and/or pencils as drumsticks. She created her own versions of songs with the materials around her, accompanying them with her beautiful voice, and sometimes the collaboration of a blonde-haired best friend. In song below (her cover of the National’s Lemmonworld) her blonde friend is the first one who sings, and heyitshannabelle comes in on the second verse at “gave my heart to the army.”
She has great taste in music. I discovered her thanks to the Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ song ‘Home,’ and through her covers I discovered many more great songs artists. I prefer her version of ‘Lemmonworld,’ ‘Chicago,’ and ‘Home,’ to the originals. A cached webpage displaying the names of the songs she once covered can be found here. A copy of her Chicago cover can be found here.
She was always a bit coy with her online identity. She never vloged, and she never revealed much about herself or the other girls that would occasionally sing with her in videos. Video descriptions were minimal. in the description for the Sufjan Stevens cover Chicago, it simply read “All things go, all things grow.” As an interested subscriber, it is tempting to imagine a life for her outside the music. One where she grows up and moves out, one where she got that ukelele or maraca on a tropical family vacation, one where she has that one line stuck in her head for weeks and throws it into the description when she finally competes the video.
Her activity declined after 2010, and she probably hadn’t uploaded anything in at least a year from the time I am writing. It was sad to see her interest in creating content wane, and now disappear all together. But one thing you knew about heyitshannabelle just by watching her videos was that she enjoyed making the music. If removing her videos from the internet is what will make her happy now, then I respect her decision.
You can still watch this video of her collaborating with Isabel Walsh, who was apparently her Lady-Shark bandmate in 2011. heyitshannabelle is the girl on the right, and has the deeper voice. Just trust me when I say that this example does not do her independent work justice.