Thanks, but no thanks: Shook Twins tell American Idol to take a hike

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Shook Twins tell American Idol to take a hikeLast week, CD Baby artists Shook Twins (a folk-pop band fronted by identical twin sisters) received an email from the producers of American Idol asking them to audition for the show. The email stipulated that the sisters “would have to audition INDIVIDUALLY OF COURSE!”

Here’s how Shook Twins responded (quoted from the band’s Facebook page):

Dear American Idol,

Thank you for reaching out to independent Portland Musicians. However, we find it very surprising that you research established and successful bands to compete individually.

You said in your email invitation that, “You would have to audition us individually of course.” It’s interesting that you assume that would be OK. Sure, “Of course” we would abandon ten years of hard work and career building as a duo to be the next new “Pop Star” singing songs that we didn’t even write.

As many singers would love to audition to be the next American pop star, we respectfully decline your invitation. We are proud to be making a living off our art and being successful independent artists by our own design.

This is what we value as “indie” musicians:

*We get to work as a family team and build an exciting career from the ground up and stand proud of the gradual progress and success that our art garners.

*We are so honored to be holding the reins, to be steering in the direction that we choose, singing songs that say something special and that make people feel inspired.

*We get to create the inner workings of our performances, allowing our true vision to be projected during our shows. Our vision is about gathering people in one space to feel positive emotions together. We aim to create an environment in quaint venues and festivals that allows people to be comfortable in their own skin and to express themselves as they wish.

*It’s not about the fame or the money.

*Singing our own songs while playing our own instruments is essential to us.

We feel that music is not meant to be a competition. It’s a platform to say something powerful and should be a way of bringing people together, not separating them. We feel that your vision is completely different. We would be going against everything that we stand for by auditioning for American Idol.

Again, thanks for the invitation to compete for success that’s created by a separate entity, but we think we’ll keep doing what we are doing because it sure feels right!


Shook Twins (Identical twin sisters who sing TOGETHER)

Right on. Amen. And all that other good stuff.

Have you turned down opportunities for big exposure because it didn’t sit right with your identity as an artist? What does it mean to be independent in the first place? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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[Photo of Shook Twins by Jake Blakesberg.]

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  • Brandon

    Awesome guys… stay indie!!

  • Brandon

    Awesome guys… stay indie!!

  • Brandon

    Awesome guys… stay indie!!

  • DelaneyBros

    Good for you! Bigger is not always better. Best wishes for a long and prosperous career for you both. TOGETHER. 🙂

  • William Mead

    great stuff young ladys a one fingered salute to the scanners
    bill mead uk the sharpees

  • timothydark

    Good for them!!!! I love it!!

  • Bryn Nelson-Richard

    proud of them! but what’s a “CD Baby artist”?

  • “Happiness ain’t havin’ whatever you want, but wantin’ what you already got”. And American Idol can never offer what the Shook twins have already got: artistic integrity.

  • redjelly39

    I love the Shook Twins and they sound great and have integrity – something American Idol severely lacks.

    • And no one has heard of them – something American Idol could have changed. GET WITH REALITY.

      • Lisa Marie Garver

        Did you not read? They have a following an are making a living as musicians.. AKA people know about them. Just because you don’t doesn’t mean they aren’t successful. That is the entire point that you clearly missed.

      • Abe Lee

        …she responds to a guy who has clearly heard of them.

      • Tim Shahady

        seems like declining American Idol has also gotten them some visibility. I hadn’t heard of them before, but now (because they understand the path of art and integrity), I am a fan.

      • David Terry

        shut up clay aiken

      • Matt McCaffrey

        Actually, some people have heard of them. They enjoy what they do. In fact, because they are a small, independent, locally based company, they have much more time to spend with friends and family. That is REALITY. American Idol, in and of itself, is about as real as professional wrestling. Contestants are interviewed by television producers, then hand picked for auditions based on sex appeal, dramatic backstories, or absolutely horrible and ridiculous personas and singing abilities. Those who do make it through the auditions (usually a pre determined arrangement) are then given intensive vocal training. In summation, mainstream pop-music is about as far from reality as one can get.

      • Some people really lack substance don’t they.

        If you enjoy the idiot box so much then I doubt you’re the kind of person that would appreciate finer music anyway. Back to Nicky Minaj for you.

      • Dude or should I say dud; if your so hot on American Idol Why don’t you go audition for them and get some exposure for your stupidity and attitude.

      • Cpt_Justice

        So, “music=fame”? That’s about as stupid as “true music cannot be famous”!

      • feef


      • Dan Saraceno

        Get with reality? Nothing in front of camera is real. But, you are correct in that AI would have changed them. Thank goodness they make up their own minds.

      • Miles Wright

        Well I just heard about them now, thanks to this article. And seeing that they have integrity and refuse to be sell outs, I’m going to go give them a listen.

      • Charles Hoernemann

        American Idol and Reality is an oxymoron..!

      • Athonwy Doherty

        Yes Jamie, no one has heard of them, because obviously YOU haven’t, and you are seriously no one. However, many of us someone’s HAVE heard of them!

      • Jon Sousan

        Read my post back to Alan— those examples are hard facts too my friend. But, as my dad always said…there’s an idiot born every minute.– In this case, twins. Why they wouldn’t take advantage of that BIG platform, is beyond me. So what if the American Idol people twist it in whatever works for them.. viewers love drama and all it would do is bring more of a spotlight on them. And if they are claiming to NOT want a spotlight on them, then why is this “Dissing” thing happening? My guess is that somebody wants a “viral” to catch hold…hello? Another form of shameless promotion..
        I guess I’m too old to get it? As a musician, I don’t get the whole for the purity of music ’cause’ thing anyway. Life is about struggling to make a living, living right, loving family, and sharing God given talents with others. Not to go all Biblical on these guys but, the parable of the talents are in full force here…they just buried theirs for what? ‘The Cause’ what friggin’ cause? I’m sure God isn’t pleased that they just passed up a perfectly good opportunity to grow their talents.– Oh well.

      • Hagbard Celine

        You’re not a musician are you?

      • James Dineen

        Actually, I have heard of them, Happen to like them quite a bit too. Maybe the point is here that you should not just take what American Idol feeds you. There is an unbelievable amount of amazing music out there that you haven’t heard of Jamie. That doesn’t mean that many other people haven’t.

      • wethepeople34

        Well now everyone has heard of them AND they kept their values intact, what do you have to say now Einstein???

      • Loren Davidson

        I never heard of you before either. Your point?

      • Que Bullock

        American Idol heard of them and that’s their point. You can choose whatever road you think is best for you nothing is promised and truthfully if it’s not your purpose for being here on this earth then it’s not going to prosper anyway. Know your purpose and work hard at making that happen. God has a plan for us all.

      • RB

        Well Jamie, they just got more exposure with this letter then most would in a life time…..carry on with your reality! American idol is a dog and pony show.

  • jamessitzer

    I love the part where they say: “We feel that music is not meant to be a competition. It’s a platform to say something powerful and should be a way of bringing people together… we think we’ll keep doing what we are doing because it sure feels right!”

    • danmaher

      Perfect!!! Muso’s ultimately should support each other on all levels of sucess…

    • Do what you love, all else comes second.

  • Dumbass… And there goes your opportunity… Yeah, American Idol can give you exposure. STUPID.

    • J Cameron Smith

      Jamie, YOU are the dumass! The Shook twins are real musicians, they are a team and you dont break up a team in the name of television. I applaude them for turning it down. I dont watch American Idol, its fake, its rigged, and I dont think Simon would know real talent if it slaped him in the face. I havent heard the shook twins, but I shure am going to now. I am in a band that is a indi-artist and I have no complaint, We have been going for 8 years now, those American Idol contestents last only a year or two and that is it. Why? because they are NOT artist. Real atrist dont need some TV show to get exposure.

    • Uncle Benny

      No, they’re not STUPID, they value their artistic integrity more than making a spectacle of themselves on a reality show. American Idol is a steaming pile of c-r-a-p and always has been. The fact that a few of their contestants have gone on to more or less successful careers doesn’t change that.

      Tom Petty: “if they tried to offer my generation music by someone that had won a game show, it would have been hysterical. You would have been laughed out of the room. “

      • Paul Haughton

        American Idol is …ALL SHOOK UP…ah ah ahhh , yeah…way to go Shook twins.Much BLESSINGS to you BOTH.

    • Cocaine is really one hell of a drug isn’t it Jamie.

    • Cpt_Justice

      Their opportunity to..what? Ruin their act??

    • Elias Weber

      Yes it can give you a lot of exposure. But they are sufficiently successful to make a living. Given the amount of success they do not want to sign their souls over to the devil. There is always a sense of being manufactured when rising to fame trough American Idol. And in the eyes of the Public you will forever be immortalized as a product of American Idol. This is great if otherwise you would wind up being a nobody. But if you are already making a living from your music why compromise your integrity. Besides the first step is the hardest once you have made it past the initial herdal you no longer need things like american idol to grow your sucsess.

    • Yes. I think it is a bad professional decision. I wish them well. Have a nice day.

  • Lee

    What possible reason could American Idol want for twins to audition separately? Of course it’s to build up a fake story line where both get through the heats, both fail shortly after and someone has the amazing idea of pairing them together into a duo. Very obvious story creation from a show that is an anathema to anyone who truly regards themselves a music fan.

  • Leigh Harrison

    I totally understand what these twins feel. I have enjoyed the songs of some of the American Idol winners (and losers!) but I also feel that there are many ways to success besides that show. When it first aired, numerous people in the music biz suggested that i audition, but I decided I didn’t want to be involved in the competitiveness that the show engendered. In fact, it was not the only time I’ve avoided working with large record companies. When I was a young singer-songwriter, people asked me if I wanted a “record deal” and I explained that I wanted to put out my own records. This was back in the 1970’s, so I was “independent” before there was any real concept in America of the “indie” artist. I describe more of my thinking on my website, on the “Music” pages, within my music bio. I completely understand all who choose their own path in life, regardless of prevailing wisdom.

  • Great story, I think the key here is that they wanted them to audition individually which doesn’t make sense haha. They are the Shook Twins! Great work.

  • Kevin

    Bravo Ladies!! I’m sure we all have the music of all the artists who won (or more that didn’t) the TV competitions shows. Thanks for saying what we’ve been thinking.

  • John Kennedy

    And they humbly decline the invitation but have their publicist hand out that information to every outlet available. True Rebels.

  • Way to go, ladies! Yes, we have turned down major networks interested in our show and now we are going to multiple TV Networks in the Fall season who share our vision for authentic music. I’d love to talk to the Shook Twins about an appearance. They would fit right in with our show:) Nashville Unleashed

  • I passed your comment on to Shook Twins’ manager. Hopefully he’ll be in touch.


  • Gage Heward

    I have heard of them, been to their show with my sister. I wouldn’t have gone if she hadn’t invited me. She is also in a folk band. I usually don’t listen to folk, I like Rock, but these two women are so good that they had me enchanted. They are beautiful, and even more so they have the voices of angles. The way they arrange their music is more unique than any other bands I have seen and heard. And I have seen and heard many. They have the raw talent and the ability to become one of the greatest female artists of our time. I support them wholeheartedly in their decision. Keep up the enchanting girls!

  • Triad999

    Good for them! American Idol is the biggest abortion on TV, with only a couple of exceptions people that bailed out have been more successful than those that stayed and assumed the very restrictive halo that the producers place on the top few. The twins are right, music is NOT a competition, it’s an art form. And a most of us just want to make a living and be free to create the way we want to. Not everyone wants or needs to be a star. (…and a lot that are …shouldn’t be!)

  • Triad999

    … Oh and Jamie, perhaps you should take their place.

  • Triad999

    …just smart

  • Crisis Mr. Swagger

    I was going to Audion for this years X-Factor in Australia when I read the rules and, it said that I had to perform a popular song that’s playing or been played on the radio. This is where my desire to be a part of it ended. I wrote them back stating why I was not going to take part in the auditions.

    Come see about me: @hiphopcrisis <—– Twitter and Instagram

    • Cpt_Justice

      To be fair, their reasoning might be more along the lines of “every sings the same song so it’s fair”.

  • Chris Aitken

    I would be very interested why American Idol contacted them in the first place. Is it because they are twins? Were they hoping to pit them against each other?

  • I agree with their stance and statement, I’ve said to agents and managers time and time again. My comedy is for sale not my heart, my dignity or my love for the art. I much rather be successful doing what I do than to be famous doing what someone else wants me to do.

  • GSG

    I love it musician/singer songwriters with integrity

  • Roger Stankovic

    I applaud them. The most famous artists in the industry make it on there own as independent artists and don’t enter these competitions which are suppose to give you maximum exposure…lol..Competitions like X factor and the like (Idol is not as bad) are after exploiting talented individuals and the not so talented individuals for so called “entertainment”.

  • Ladies, big big hands for you. After being on the road for over 30 years and up to 140 well-paid gigs a year I gave into my wife and started a solo career as and independent country music artist, releasing my third and forth album in September – all on my own. In over 40 years in music business I always thought that we musicians should stand together, helping each other or – at least – respect each other. Several times some guys tried to talk me in to take part in some contest, nationwide and international, and my answer always was the same as your: I’m proud to be independent, to sing the songs I wrote note for note and line for line. I’m so happy when people like my music and not mad at them if they don’t – luckily most of them like it! 😉
    Now, you know what’s all about those song and singer contests that’s much more important than the music or singer? It’s those guys in the juries, those guys that get a big big stage with each and every show. They feel so big to judge in front of a mass audience that doesn’t even know what’s good and what’s right. If they would know they’ld never watch those shows but go out to the venues and listen to real musicians and singers.
    I support everyone that stands against those disputable and disgusting shows – and of course, oh, sorry, surely I will never will take part of this brutal game, where nothing is more important than bringing all those young guys that are dreaming to be a singer or musician down – no matter if they have talent or not. Everyone who brings effort and lots of work in this art should be respected, not bashed.
    Your decision is the best to make – and the ones to get with reality are Jamie Smith & Co. These guys are so ridiculous!!!!
    Shook Twins, all the best to you and lots of success – you deserve it!
    Don Vigo

  • Doxy Cycling

    With the number of people who queue up to get on dross shows like American Idol, do the producers really send out unsolicited invitations to be on the show?

  • John Thirkell

    American Idol and the like are not really about music though, are they? They are about light entertainment and froth. Not serious music. But why can’t the two peacefully co-exist? What’s wrong with that? Some people like deep and meaningful music and others just like a pleasant noise. So what? Why shouldn’t they?

  • John Thirkell

    American Idol and the like are not really about music though, are they? They are about light entertainment and froth. Not serious music. But why can’t the two peacefully co-exist? What’s wrong with that? Some people like deep and meaningful music and others just like a pleasant noise. So what? Why shouldn’t they?

  • staying independent especially when industry made an effort to split up a family is ridiculous.

  • staying independent especially when industry made an effort to split up a family is ridiculous.

  • Chad Ammidown

    It’s wonderful that they are happy and making the living they want. However, that doesn’t mean the alternatives are wrong. Just because people audition on Idol doesn’t mean they are seeking fame and fortune. They are seeking opportunity. Opportunity they may not otherwise have.

    So while I’m happy you are in a position to decline, maybe next time you will consider not bagging on other hopeful artist just looking to make it. You may not like the machine, but you should respect the people trying to make it.

  • Chad Ammidown

    Because all contestant are individuals. It’s to make an equal playing field. Two singing against solos will have harmonies and depth that solo could never have.

    • Loren Davidson

      In that case, American Idol should never have approached them in the first place, knowing that they’re a duo.

  • HAHA…good on these girls. do your own thing these days…period. who wants to work for a major and payback 60% in interest…forget it. grow your talent and fanbase organically.

  • HAHA…good on these girls. do your own thing these days…period. who wants to work for a major and payback 60% in interest…forget it. grow your talent and fanbase organically.

  • Gordon N. Oklahoma

    I’m a song writer. I’ve been encouraged to submit my songs to national songwriting contests many times. No thanks, after reading the fine print of everyone of those contests, the fine print contains the following. “The ownership of the songs you submit is hereby transferred to the promotion company managing this contest. All songs developed during the contest period also become the property of said management company.” So it’s nothing but a phishing scheme to steal original music. Again, no thanks. I was asked by the producer of a singer that was on this season of “The Voice” to write some songs for the release of an album immediately following the season of the show. After the act was voted off the show I heard the stories of how those shows are run and staged. Folks do yourself and the music industry a favor and stop participating and even watching. It only encourages people to think you can just walk in off the street and be a professional musician/singer/celebrity. Peace.

    • SongsWithA

      Sadly, I heard first hand from some friends that this is the case with the Mountain Stage Mountain Song contest – A folky contest by an NPR syndicated show! Can you believe it?! They reserved the right to become your management company and the winner would be barred from releasing anything independently for over one year after the contest. Boo. Hope the Tiny Desk contest doesn’t go that way too. You really never know till you read the fine print.

  • Shirlblessed

    I am simply bowled over by this. I respect The Shook Twins. As an indie reggae artiste I appreciate what they have said. Too many of us sell our souls for money. Musical Integrity! Bless them.

  • Cpt_Justice

    So, in order to be true to their music they have to shun fame? That’s not logical in the slightest.

    • Hagbard Celine

      Nowhere do they claim to want to shun fame. Try reading a little deeper into their comment.

  • Deanne Merchant

    That’s why shows like “Make or Break, The Linda Perry Project” will be the new “Go To Music Show”, because it’s “real”!! She’s “raising the bar” by challanging “working” musicians to bring out “their personal best”! As “ARTISTS”, not just potential “packages to be pimped”!!

  • Alan

    And the award for most CLUELESS, HAIRBRAINED RESPONSE goes to Jamie Smith! Listen IDIOT, going by your reply, it’s all too apparent that you need shows like Idol to dictate who you are and are not allowed to follow, and that there is no other filter with which to become aware of new artists. How freekin’ NARROW!!!! Tell ya what? Why don’t you ask such ILLUSTRIOUS PAST IDOL WINNERS as Rueben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Taylor Hicks, David Cook, Jordin Sparks, and basically anyone who’s been crowned the new American Idol within just the last 5 seasons alone. Hell, they didn’t even GET their 15 minutes of fame, let alone 5 minutes. Nope….they pretty much sank RIGHT BACK INTO OBSCURITY, and are ALL safely tucked within the “Where Are They Now?” files…Pretty much the fate of any Idol winner that WASN’T Kelly Clarkson OR Carrie Underwood. But no…These twins are WRONG for wanting to give up a career they have built entirely on their own merits, just to potentially wreck it all and end up nothing by going on Idol…Now, GROW SOME BRAINS and read the story all over again! And what was that about ‘Reality’ again?

    • Jon Sousan

      Yeah Alan…along with those nobodys, Adam Lambert (who tours with Queen), Kelly Clarkson (daughter-in-law of REBA), Carrie Underwood (do you really need any quotes here?), Jordin Sparks (TV Star), Phillip Phillips (#1 Hit records), Katherine McPhee (TV Star), Fantasia (Her own Reality Series), & that pesky nobody… Jennifer Hudson, (who has starred in movies and has had countless commercial success and won how many awards?) And lets not forget… drum roll please…Daughtry (more successful than most Rock Acts trying to make it these days)– I could go on you know, Clay Aiken, Bo Bice…man, I really could.
      American Idol isn’t for everybody…but to say American Idol hasn’t done anything for anybody? Are you kidding me? They offer a platform and one of the hugest megaphones for an ‘independent’ that ever has existed. It’s stupidity that doesn’t pick it up and benefit from it. Even a smidge of recognition from the show, is enough to catapult an act way above their present state. But, if you’d rather see these twins revel into the sweet bliss of ‘stand up for the art’ greatness…well, be my guest. I guess they could try and become a “viral success” as a result of dissing AI…but then again, isn’t that the shameless self promotion too? Just sayin’

      • Sardo Numsy

        Does the word “Integrity” register any form of comprehension to your commercially conditioned, reality focused, tunnel vision brain?

    • Penryn

      Ok Alan. I understand where you are coming from, but where is your compassion. Come on. You were 16 once weren’t you? Not everyone’s experiences allow them to understand this at what point in life they are at. Its ok that not everyone gets this and with a society that shoves a lot of these ideals down mainstream teens throats, how can you expect him to be any other way. Its not so much his fault as it is our society’s, which has failed our youth.

  • Some Guy

    I turned down a lot of opportunities with major-label artists and radio stations on the basis of integrity…and in retrospect, I regret every single one. (I still wouldn’t do American Idol, though..but since I’m technically not a singer, I don’t think I’d qualify anyway on just my voice alone..)

  • Alan Reeves

    American idol is a crappy show that has nothing really to do with music, it is degrading.
    Jamie Smith says- something American Idol could have changed. GET WITH REALITY. Well the reality is dear Jamie no ones heard of me, but I have earned millions upon millions of dollars doing what I love doing, recording my work with Symphony Orchestras, Philharmonics, 16 groups, played thousands of concerts with the worlds greatest musicians. I got a Gold Album with KILL BILL VOL.2, was nominated for an Academy Award for TO WALK WITH LIONS, scored the worlds first entirely digital film in 1994, the worlds only 70mm 3D commercial for Renault in 1988. I did “OCEAN OASIS” in 2001 the most successful IMAX film in history. And have won 35 awards for my music. All without any Show or promotion from anyone just on my own, with hard work and determination. So I can’t help but agree whole heartedly with THE SHOOK TWINS, carry on. Do not let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Follow your heart and intuition. Bravo!

    • Great points, Alan. Thanks for commenting.


      • JT

        Wow brag much? Lol.

        • kd

          was thinking the same thing.. good for him.. but for someone who did not do promotions.. he kinda just did.

    • Lena Lalani

      That’s just what I’m talking about. Great to be able to walk down the street, into stores, etc. isn’t it? Congratulations! Let the music flow…..

    • Funkmaster5000

      You’re just the dog’s nuts, aren’t you?

    • MNewland

      How nice for you. My husband and I have been slogging in this business for 40+ years. All the talent, training and determination are present but we’ve not been able to get the traction of which you speak. Recorded with name artisits, scored for tv and film and are barely making a living. There isn’t a more talented, well trained or more technically savvy musician around than my husband. Furthermore, had this kind of show was available when I was younger and singing in clubs, writing and recording I would have been there with bells on. Ok…so it isn’t right for the Twins. That’s fine, but I’ll not degrade someone for availing themselves of the opportunity to realize the massive exposure this program offers. So, congratulations on your amazing success. You are in the vast minority. I know, I know….luck had nothing to do with it. Ha!

    • Michael Norris

      If you enjoyed success as a musician, especially through awards, you are using music as competition. If you turn down an opportunity because you don’t want to see music as a competition, then you shouldn’t even play at clubs, because chances are someone else wanted that gig, and you beat them.

      The other point I disagreed with from them is that Idol contestants are allowed to sing originals and play their own instruments. But even if they weren’t, they would still be artists. Singing is an art. Billie Holliday, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Patsy Cline are artists, even though they don’t write or play instruments.

  • danmaher

    I’m 70 yrs old,.. still playin and writing… Que sera sera…!!! If it happens it happens….
    BTW Those gals need no American Idol they got it goin on …Excellent originality!!!

  • Symphony Howlett

    I have been auditioning for idol since 2007. This past year, I made the top 40 and was aired on television and I made the top 40 the year Scotty McCreery won. I always wondered why something felt off about these shows and I realized. How can a country singer compete against a rock singer competing against a folk singer? They are on different sides of the musical spectrum and having to say one is better than the other makes no sense. What I loved most about these shows was collaborating with all the artists I met on the show and jamming together. We expressed our stories and our hearts together and that is what music is all about. Not competing and saying the way music makes me feel is better than the way music makes you feel.

  • Chris de la Cruz

    Never watched one episode of American Idle and never will. AI and people who feed into that pap have effectively killed American music. Give yourselves a big ol’ hand, you murderers.

  • Sanity

    They aren’t claiming to be “true rebels”, they’re claiming to be musicians with integrity. The two concepts are only conflated by middle-aged men who never got over the fact that the Stones and the Pistols were just as manufactured as One Direction, and were part of the establishment all along.

    • simeonberesford

      The Stones manufactured themselves.

    • Funkmaster5000

      Yeah, let’s conflate One Direction with the Rolling Stones and the Sex Pistols. Clueless much?

  • Annual Collins Jr

    I totally agree with them. The Idol and all competition shows lack character and direction. The judges have mediocre backgrounds except the “”Voice”” which has the highest of profiles for judges. But to make musicians compete is childish and all the other things these ladies talked about. I say Bless them for keeping their integrities intact

  • I think that was probably what they were hoping for.


  • I think that was probably what they were hoping for.


  • Dana Pence

    I think it commendable that these ladies feel the way they do. However, I question why they felt obligated to write in defense of their belief rather than a polite ‘No thank you. We’re a duet.”. I have to wonder if their plan is to keep the iron in the fire by not burning bridges.

  • teledyn

    bears repeating: “We feel that music is not meant to be a competition. It’s a platform to say something powerful and should be a way of bringing people together…”

  • lisamanyon

    LOVE! ♥♪♫♪

  • Smid Ball

    Never watched it! Why did they bother to burden the ears of the twins in the first place?

  • Well, the open letter format does often go hand-in-hand with publicity. Worked brilliantly for them!


  • Luckydog8585

    I agree with the Shook sisters findings but question whether a simple thanks but declined would have been a more mature and professional response. I don’t watch Idol but just as it would be clueless to assume idol is the only true musical road, so is it a bit naive (as an artist) to think that you won’t be in the hands of these same music industry types while trying to make your “indie” run. Music or any other business requires leaving everyone glad they met you and every time you choose to teach someone a lesson you have to remember it may be revisited on you down the road when you least expect it. More power to them but Bob Dylan managed to retain his principles by navigating the powers that be in the existing labels. Seems doable without telling the execs off.

  • Awesome words of inspiration from the “Twins”. I once turned down a big commercial job in multi-magazines for “fake boobs”.. an implant ad. The ad company wanted a girl with “natural boobs” to pose in the ad, saying that “women could have the “natural look” from implants.
    At the time, I knew women friends who were dealing with health hazards caused from their implants. For me, saying NO to the big $ and ad spread, was saying that “Women and girls are beautiful JUST AS THEY ARE”… I know, easier said when you have boobs, yet boobs as a “tom-boy” made me feel awkward for many years. Society doesn’t define us and our beauty… that’s a natural gift we all have.

  • Brian H.

    Idol is completely rigged and has NO soul. I’ve had friends who’ve been on it and i’ve had friends who auditioned for it … i even attended an audition with my ex gf once as an observer and i saw first hand how absolutely set-up everything is.

  • Natalie Zoe

    Word. That’s all.

  • Grant

    I find it interesting that they were approached by the show. I have always suspected that AI went on the hunt for people rather than it being 100% ‘show up and take a chance to audition’ and this seems to confirm it. This further taints my view of an already dying franchise.

  • Amen. And cheers to you.


  • Ken Messer

    The Twins obviously create Art that Entertains, rather than Entertainment for its own sake. There is a chasm between a Musician and an Entertainer and the twins essentially codified what it was.

  • Armandmusic

    We know they are right because unlike them, we were stupid enough to audition for America’s Got Talent. It was a fiasco so we went back to making a full time living singing and performing our way. We learned the hard way. They were much smarter.

  • Eric Himan

    I got an opportunity almost a decade ago, to record with some heavy hitting producers in Florida. I went there and was met with a lot of “we are going to make you a star” and “this guy over here is going to play all the instruments, you just sing”. I wrote my own songs and play guitar pretty well according to listeners and critics. I had just been featured on a cd called, LOVE ROCKS put out by the Human Rights Campaign, the pro-LGBT organization. One of my songs was featured next to hits by Christina Aguilera, P!nk, The Dixie Chicks, and more, which was a big feat for a lil’ indie artist as myself at the time. The producers caught wind of the cd and brought it up to my manager friend’s attention with, “let me know when you get that fag cd”. I was very out of the closet at this point in my life and hearing that from big music producers really gave me a big insight into what could be my future with working with them. When pushed some more, I ended up walking away from it. The following year, I released my album, Dark Horse, through CDBaby and it was one of the most successful albums of mine to date. Sometimes, you have to stick to who you are and what you believe to truly understand success when it finally comes:). Thanks for reading this.

  • You’d think people in the music industry would be above that kind of thinking, but I guess it’s good you saw their true colors before getting any further on down the road with them. Very glad that your indie release was successful.


  • Chef-Ray Plosscowe

    I signed-up for The X Factor auditions a couple years ago. Got to the Cow Palace in SF at 6am as requested. By 8:30am it hit me: the powers that be were waiting until they got a big enough crowd to do a panoramic video of us before even letting us inside the building. Disgusted, I went home and vowed to focus on my own singing / songwriting.

  • Nicole Peltier

    it’s def interesting that they would reach out to an already established band too. I didn’t think that they extended invites for auditions other than the people “off the street” who spend years looking forward to being old enough to audition and days/long hours standing in line to audition.

  • Eunice Charis

    This is just amazing!
    Amen to this!
    “We feel that music is not meant to be a competition. It’s a platform to say something powerful and should be a way of bringing people together, not separating them.”

  • Rudy Brinkman

    A few years ago one of our children wanted to join the Dutch “Idols” program. When we read the contract she had to sign before she could even audition, and especially the ‘small print’ we decided against it. It would block her career she was already starting to build big time. The whole idea is they want one winner and earn big money over the back of the winner while blocking out all others who joined the competition by forbidding them to perform without their approval. It’s a no go for any person who’s serious about their own career (songs, music). They “own” you as soon as you sign.

  • HarryWiggs

    EXCELLENT: From one old folkie to the young duo: WTG! +1!

  • Lena Lalani

    I turned down major label offers because I refuse to be a stripper singing songs that I don’t like so other people can make money. It’s actually offensive to me as a woman to be merchandised that way. I’m fortunate that I have the resources to be building like the twins speak of; I’m just starting out, but I’m happy and I love my music and all true artists. I create because that’s who I am. I write and play and sing because it must come out. It’s obviously not about the money and I’m not looking for fame; I’m just looking to get out what’s inside of me. Wonderful article and congratulations Shooks!

  • Lena Lalani

    I sometimes wonder if the difference between some of those people and artists aka most of us is just that. They have (or haven’t any) talent and want to sing, but don’t have that special something inside that drives them to just create or use their instrument. 10 minutes of fame is easy, playing everyday, singing your voice almost raw and nursing it with mufflers and throat coat, transversing the country for free, then hundreds, then thousands, then maybe tens of thousands, not seeing much of your family– that takes a severe dedication. Building “you” whether or not you get the approval of big labels, or the “industry”. There’s just too many people on the planet to let 1 or 5 or 10 people determine your musical fate.

  • Linda Vee Sado

    I once turned down an offer to sing commercials which in hindsight was probably not too smart. But I felt bad the rest of the band was being shut out.

  • Tom Hendricks

    Well said twins. I’d add this, most of the singing shows have pressure for the singer to fit a formula to please judges. Imagine Dylan, or Billie Holiday, or Joe Cocker trying to fit. Being a great vocalist is not about sounding alike, but standing out with your own style. Rarely does a new style support the old guard!
    Then too imagine them sending this to the Everly Brothers and asking them to compete separately!

  • Scott Whitfield


  • First of all, congratulations ladies on not just denying a disrespectful invitation, but for also explaining to the network why. Since you are on their radar, keep in mind that the network may ask you for an appearance or even want to license your music for something else much bigger and less insulting to you. Use all of this as leverage to continue to expand your brand with other networks/companies etc unless that is not apart of your gameplan, which if it is not, I digress. Good luck to you ladies and every other artists/musician who has experienced this.

  • That Guy Who Goes There

    Of course they could have just ignored the invitation.

  • Rob Lewis

    These ladies are what makes being around music worth it. As a music critic, I gladly review a hundred musicians or even a thousand just to hear artists like Shook Twins for the first time. And your Fear of Heights makes this list, too, Mister Robley.

  • cwilsondrum

    not to mention getting ripped off by the very people who are posing as your “discoverers” f**ck all of those shows.

  • Artie Vegas


  • pillybilly

    ahah, they are both stupid.

  • Now that is true love and dedication for something they both love dearly. High five to the both of them and keep doing what you love and be happy. Don’t try to fall into the fame and cash gimmick. Music isn’t about competition. It’s about creating something dear to you and sharing it with people you admire. As a composer, I would never go down that road and still stay true to that. <3

  • Jen

    Lord, lord, lord! I get all that but a better response could have been, “Thank you for the invitation but we only perform together and are already on the path we have chosen for ourselves. We appreciate you reaching out to us though!” – just smarter, better business. I guess they wouldn’t get to post this letter and get people who have NO IDEA how the business works up in arms and supporting a misguided attempt to “teach American Idol a lesson”. Just my opinion having been involved in the music business for upwards of 18 years, starting as the lead singer of a signed/touring band and then moving into management, etc. Better ways to handle the interest of one of the biggest shows, EVER!!! Better ways to use that interest to accomplish their own goals, etc. Could have led to them performing their own, original music in front of the American Idol audience, etc. rather than alienating themselves from that potential opportunity. The older and wiser you get, you realize it’s not ALWAYS “THE MAN” out to get you but honest, hardworking art/music lovers who have found a way to marry art and commerce, etc. PHEW! End.of.rant!

  • OneAM1

    I don’t know who they are, don’t care if I’d like their music or not, but I sure like THEM a lot!

  • Claudio Gnocchi

    American Idol is crap….hooray for these two real musicians!

  • Vyper3000

    Never heard of them…. but I am a fan now. I’ll be checking out their web presence right after this to see what they have online.

  • Richard Arterbury

    I have also contacted them asking for help with environment education and awareness! Emails were never returned!

  • Richard Arterbury

    Environmental efforts would be great!

  • Sera Golding

    My band Unsung Lilly has been approached by Britains got talents ‘talent scouts’ 9 times. And we have turned them down 9 times, because of the same reasons in this article. We were offered the chance to ‘skip a large part of the audition process’ and were guaranteed to a certain point in the show. It just proves that these things are all completely manufactured (just incase any of us hadn’t realised that already). These kind of shows are there for entertainment purposes (and they do a great job of entertaining a large amount of the worlds population!) but it’s no way to build a career if you are an artiste that wants to be a real creator of the ‘art’ that you are creating.
    Good on these girls for publishing this article and using it for a bit of publicity! Integrity and strength are really great values and it would be great to have more ‘artistes’ or bands in the public eye who prioritise such things 🙂

  • Tom Noddy

    Bless them!

    The intro to this comment section asks “Have you turned down opportunities for big exposure because it didn’t sit right with your identity as an artist?”

    My situation is a little bit different but is along the same lines. I do an act with soap bubbles some of which I fill with smoke … I was a street performer and then, in the early 1980s, I was featured three times on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and offers for performances in the US and abroad poured in. I picked and chose my way through them to shape a showbiz career that I wanted to pursue. But one of the first calls was an odd one. I mentioned that I fill soap bubbles with smoke … nowadays, I accomplish that with a handheld fog device so it only looks like smoke but back then, I was a cigarette smoker and aside from some hippies and health nuts no one thought it to be a terrible thing for a man on late night television to be smoking a cigarette. I used generic cigarettes, that is … the package simply said “Cigarettes” on it. I got a call from some guy who praised my performance and then asked “By the way, what kind of cigarettes do you smoke?” I told him that I used generic cigarettes and he asked why. I said “Well, I don’t want to be showing people any particular brand … providing advertising for cirgarettes.” “Oh,” he said, “I’m calling from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, are you familiar with our brands?” LOL

    I then asked him to “Please, do NOT tell me how much money I’m turning down.” I went on to say that the idea of shilling for an addictive product would not match my sense of who I am … or should be.

    I’ve had the pleasure of hearing and seeing the Shook Twins at the Oregon Country Fair (I even had them in a Midnight Show that I organize at that event) and I really enjoyed their performance … if it is possible for my respect for their work to be higher, that has now happened. Thank you for featuring this on your blog.

  • Hagbard Celine

    What’s even funnier is that the Voice sent notices out to Jason Isbell and John Moreland asking them to audition.

  • Rebekah Ann Curtis

    Bottom line. They look good, they sound good, that’s good tv. Not music, good tv.

  • Brava, ladies! Brava!

  • Raymond Campbell

    You do it as you live it and you live it as you do it!

  • Mark Zucco

    I always say, “It’s MUSIC, not Football!”

  • MsInformedBayou

    I can’t believe anyone would turn down the opportunity to endure immeasurable stress, be stripped of their identity, molded, exploited, and be considered a “has-been” within a couple of years….or worse, to always be known as a voice pageant winner, and nothing else. Golly, who could turn that down?

  • Ferlonda

    Damn right all around. I agree completely with the Shooks and respect them tremendously for speaking their minds so clearly and concisely. I’m a musician also, in a successful duet for the last 25 years, and would have had much the same response- though I doubt American Idol would ever in a million years be interested in either of us! This makes me very happy. If they ever call us up I’ll know for sure that we’ve gone the wrong direction.

  • Chuckles McTruck

    Ha. Excellent. About a year ago a tattoo artist friend of mine received a similar letter from the show Ink Master. He in turn wrote a… somewhat more strident reply.

  • mira

    Is there proof that Idol actually did contact them or is this just a publicity stunt to get their name out there? Idol has millions of people auditioning, they don’t have to ask people we people to. I find it interesting that this group that is struggling to make it main stream all of a sudden are in the news for turning down idol.
    I’m just saying…

  • The ladies hit it SPOT ON. These shows are just glorified karaoke contests. I was invited to audition for AGT in ’09 as a “Q” act. This means no lines, etc. Just straight to the panel, so I figured why not. I played an original, and half way through the song they stopped me and said, “Sounds great, Eddie, but do you know any covers?” Of course I do, but my ego was so bruised I replied, “Nope,” Packed up and left. Felt a tiny bit of regret for what might have been, but ultimately feel I kept my dignity. Why do these shows insist on only giving the public recycled music? Can the public NOT appreciate an original song by an original artist? Such a shame.

  • DW

    They sound just a wee bit self righteous.

  • Old_Squid

    I never heard of them, but now I love them!

  • George Nash Khier

    Nice to see you see yourself as a group. The Music Industry does not want to take any chances or be innovative. It has been that way for a long time. The Music Explosion of the 1960’s did temporarily reduce some of this control and the variety of music expanded for a period of time. Keep up the good work.

  • John Hart Young

    More power to the Shook Twins! We twin singer-songwriters need to draw strength
    from one another

    Does anyone here know the names of the professional identical twin-girl back-up singers (working for the show’s band several years ago) who actually appeared on “American Idol?”

    Contact Young-Brother Music

  • James Asher

    I did a record twenty years ago (in Portland btw) with a rather famous singer and it probably would have done better if we hadn’t segued all the songs together with strange found sounds that we pulled from leaving the TV on late at night to a gospel/religious station. But that’s the way we heard it, and it made the record more of an album – something you don’t get much of these days with iTunes and all. But that’s the indie spirit. My story and I’m sticking to it. (Loose Cannons – Near Misses) Also I’d like to point out that American Idol doesn’t have a lot to do with anything I consider terribly musical. Focusing on just singers is a total yawn.

  • Michael Nagle

    Good for them — but the fact that this is a story suggests that they did publicize it in some way. That is somewhat the same as appearing on the show. A polite “no thanks” or keeping this exchange between themselves and the producers is truly staying independent. I respect their choice since I hate when Idol stirs up these sob stories or other fictional drama instead of focusing on the musical talent. Still, I’d rather watch Idol than any other reality TV show which focuses on dysfunctional behavior or stupidity. It may not be “organically” growing a band or an act but if that’s how you prefer to get your music then the show isn’t for you anyway.

  • Funkmaster5000


  • Funkmaster5000

    Music may not be meant to be a competition, but that’s exactly what it is. It may be one of the most competitive fields of endeavor, period. It’s fine if they don’t want to audition for American Idol, I certainly don’t fault them for that. But the music business isn’t competitive? Please.

  • Tumbleweed

    the typical AI winner only sells 300 tickets for shows in the fourth largest city in the US, so why should they bother with that show

  • David Solomon

    Thanks for the tip. Just looked them up. If you want to hear the Shook Twins in full resolution, try them out on TIDAL. :
    The Clear Blue Pearl (feat. Shook Twins) by Morning Ritual.

  • Strident and hilarious. The ending is amazing. Thanks for sharing.


  • Holy hell. Jason Isbell on the Voice! That’d be something.


  • Happy to. And thanks for sharing your personal stories too. Fascinating. I went to school in Virginia, and R.J. Reynolds basically had their name on everything. Good on you for not pimping their product.


  • Awww. Thanks. I appreciate that. Maybe there should be a Shook Twins & the Fear of Heights project!


  • I’m a indie author and love it. I get to write what I want, but more importantly what the readers what to read. I can publish as many books as I want whether it’s one a year or six. I can make the books affordable for my fan base. So a big ‘fist pump’ to the Shook twins for doing what they want for themselves and their hardcore fans!

  • Paul Belale

    American Idol so over-rated. It was great the first 5 years now it SUCKS!

  • Paul Belale

    American Idol so over-rated. It was great the first 5 years now it SUCKS!

  • paulie

    You nailed it, Twins! Play on, YOUR way!

  • paulie

    You nailed it, Twins! Play on, YOUR way!

  • StephenBody

    Ho-hum…more uber-cool kids dumping on American Idol. How…cutting edge, how trendy and superior. American Idol, like almost ANYTHING else, has its good and bad points. Somebody mentioned Fantasia Barrio and Reuben Studdard and said “where are they now”. News Flash, suburban white guy: all those you mentioned have successful careers going in musical niches that you obviously don’t know about or listen to. They make a living at it and can thrive within their genres. Just because YOU don’t hear about them, that doesn’t mean they’re failures. I LOVE to death what The Shook Twins told AI. Good for them! Now, I’m going to go find music by a duo I hadn’t heard of because they told the producers to suck it. But ask ANY of the past AI contestants – or those on The Voice, The X Factor, or any of the televised competitions – if they think the experience was worth it. I’ve yet to hear or read about ONE who says it damaged their careers. I know it’s fashionable to trash whatever’s popular and most of you would rather die than have anyone think, for a second, that you’d stoop to actually liking something as mainstream as American Idol. I mean, where would your cred be then? But trashing popular things is as feckless as standing in the surf and screaming, “I refuse to get wet!” MILLIONS of your fellow citizens still watch shows like this and like to see the growth and confidence that these artists gain by doing them. And if you think dumping on them somehow makes you either smarter OR cooler than those millions, well, you’re young. You’ll find out.

  • Sue Duffield

    Right on, Tim. Right on! 🙂

  • Sue Duffield

    Whew, you get it. I get it. Congrats Shook Twins!

  • NadRettek

    I haven’t seen them, yet. I certainly will next time they’re in town. Love that attitude.

  • Jimmy Smits

    Compassion for someone as stupid as Jamie Smith is not doing him any favors.

  • mamasong81

    Well, they could have just said, “no thanks a lot. That’s not our bag.” It might have have been a less judgmental response. But…whatever.

  • mamasong81

    Easy…build the tension between partners competing against each other. It’s been done though.

  • mamasong81

    Rebels, not really…smart, we’ll see.

  • SongsWithA

    The fact that you were smart enough to figure that out put you well above the critical thinking capacities of most of the people in that cattle-call (hmm… how appropo that it was at the Cow Palace!) – nope, you’ve got to come with dreams so blindingly bright that you can see nothing until they crush you and catch it on camera. Yuck.

  • Woomera


  • Grace S Morris

    Well, it’s easy to see how and why your songs are so inspiring and moving… you know how to communicate. I love your integrity and devotion. You are absolutely right.. I have a sister in NY who was offered a similar opportunity many years ago and declined for the sake of being true to her art. Thank God for all artists that hold true to their paths. Yes, there is a place for basically ‘voice’ competitions and I don’t knock it, but there is an entire world of muscicians that already know where they r going and where they want to be. I support you.
    Ps. If you’re ever in Charleston!

  • playnice

    The twins will get far more of the kind of exposure they want to have by declining the audition in such a brilliant way. They are now getting all kinds of media that they never had before. It will attract The kind of people who would enjoy their music in the first place. And their careers will move forward just as they wanted them to in the fist place, and all on their terms… And… obviously pop is not there thing! I sure they were doing just fine before, and even more so now. I would say its good to be them!

  • playnice

    The twins will get far more of the kind of exposure they want to have by declining the audition in such a brilliant way. They are now getting all kinds of media that they never had before. It will attract The kind of people who would enjoy their music in the first place. And their careers will move forward just as they wanted them to in the fist place, and all on their terms… And… obviously pop is not there thing! I sure they were doing just fine before, and even more so now. I would say its good to be them!

  • Butch1

    Unfortunately, the music industry has a bad side run by people who know really nothing about the artistry part of making music, singing, playing, writing music, dancing or anything on this side of the business; they like to make money. They promote you and make money off of YOU and sell you and do what they can to change you many times into something you are not just to sell a product.

    Sometimes, a certain idol comes along and they will try and make many iterations of that idol by making imitations of that person in other artists in different ways. It gets ridiculous and sickening for the artist to have to imitate some one else’s music or perhaps style even to try and sell something.

    If you are a strong person and knows what you are about and want to do, you stick to your guns. If you have a certain style of your own there is no need to imitate anyone else. I think the twins were right to turn away from these myopic know nothings. I wish them the best of luck.

  • Steve Archdeacon

    Good for them! Good to see someone stand up for themselves and forge their own path in music!

  • First, I agree with their sentiments whole-heartedly. But I thinks it’s better and classier to say simply “no, thanks” rather than come out with all that self absorbed righteous condemnation. American Idol is always being slammed. They’ve heard all that stuff before. If you disagree in principle, the polite thing to do is simply decline the offer on ideological grounds. The twins act like they are talking directly to Simon Fuller, but it’s probably just some talent scout way down the totem poll.

  • Zach Stevenson
  • trogdorthe8th

    GOOD FOR THEM!!! And if we’re being frank the numbers don’t lie: American Idol’s ratings as well as the general attendance for auditions has gone DOWN in the past years. In the past, they never would have had to ask anyone to audition, which speaks volumes about the talent (and sometimes lack-there-of) they may or may not be getting these days. They were probably hoping to get them on there in order to create drama with some kind of headline along the lines of “Twins sang together for years, but now compete for the ultimate prize, who will win?”.‪#‎lookingthirstyAmericanIdol‬ ‪#‎thesedobettermoments‬

  • Kirk Lindsay

    A band I really respect a lot “Fuck the Facts” got a deal from Sony music sign on for a million dollars if they changed their name, lead singer(to male she is female)and music style(death metal)They said No Way and signed with fringe records instead for like 15 000 dollars.

  • Ted T Fiddler

    Yes… years ago I turned down a contract with the guy who invented Ultrabrite Toothpaste because he wanted to own us and change us.

  • Ha. Totally. I like the commenter who responded with the link to one of the contestants singing “Everlong.”


  • LouisaFinnell

    They could have just said no.

  • Pram Maven

    I got approached by something called “Best New Talent” during a lunch break at a mall, passed their audition, and at the next one they asked if I would like to be The Next Big Thing. Layne Staley had just died, and I made music that had a similar Seattle vibe (being from Seattle, that’s kind of appropriate). I turned them down, but a few years later, had a minor hit with a song on a movie soundtrack. On my own terms. Haven’t really had much success since then, but don’t really want it, either. Too much crap to deal with.

  • We are Katmosphere, two guys abusing lots of old and new electronic instruments to create a weekly event that spans an hour. Difficult to sell a tune that lasts an hour when the staple is 3 minutes. You need to hear 12 minutes of what we do to get a grip on it really. It is a chaotic, messy, sublime, fun process that unfolds as the music is created. We have an insanely small audience and spend a considerable amount of money hosting and managing our content. But it is ours and it is uncompromising. Hats off to all artists doing their own thing, there is a lot of us. We are in it for the love and the pleasure of listening to what we just invented.

  • Daniel De Kok

    I like these women already, and I haven’t heard them perform. Are they on YouTube or Spotify?

  • Sounds rad. Will check it out.


  • Hey the refusal will make them more famous, great decision.

  • Margie Evans Smith

    You tell em sista’s!!! Your music is yours, and should not be broken up for the show to make millions off your talent, keep the faith girls and you will get that chance to shine!!

  • Congrats to the twins. They are “winners” in our eyes.

  • Matt Gerovac

    I’m interested in the bottom line. Can artists really make money under Idol, the Voice, X Factor or any of those types of shows? Or are they just making more money for the producers of those shows? As an indie artist and teacher I rely heavily on my gig money as an important second income. Would auditioning and receiving some kind of name recognition/fame from one of these shows help my career? If so, I’d be all for it!

  • LaGrand Frazier

    I actually turned down working for Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis back in 1992 upon getting my degree in engineering because that was not what I was after nor the kind of music I wanted to focus on. My school thought I was crazy. Lol. I also didn’t want to lose ownership of my own songs so I’ve remained independent for 20 years now and have a successful audio and production career. PS. I ended up doing sound for Jimmy Jam, Kelly Clarkson and the GRAMMYS on Capital Hill in 2006.

  • LaGrand Frazier

    I love stories like this. You have to know who you are and your purpose for being here. Great job, ladies!!

  • Randy Weber

    Well back in the late 80’s I was with a production company IBMC (itty,bitty,midi,comidi). We produced such groups as Kool & the Gang, reggae artist Jimmy Cliff, The Manhattans to name a few…as word got around, we was offer a million dollars + to join forces with mega giant Russell Simons to produce his Hip-Hop artists. Because we had no desire to step into the Hip-Hop scene we turned it down. No regrets, but I do sometimes wonder what direction my career would have taken! Surely could use a cool mill right now!

    • Wow. Well, maybe the cool mill is elusive, but at least you got to work with Jimmy Cliff! That’s rad. Thanks for sharing.


      • Randy Weber

        Yes Jimmy Cliff is a great guy, very spiritual. We recorded and produced Jimmy’s “Hanging Fire” album in NY, the then popular studio The Hit Factory and also in Jamaica at Tuff Gong Studios , Bob Marley’s place. It was a lot of fun! One thing money can’t replace “moments in time”. Hmm…sounds like a good title for a song! Peace.

      • Randy Weber

        Yes Jimmy Cliff is a great guy, very spiritual. We recorded and produced Jimmy’s “Hanging Fire” album in NY, the then popular studio The Hit Factory and also in Jamaica at Tuff Gong Studios , Bob Marley’s place. It was a lot of fun! One thing money can’t replace “moments in time”. Hmm…sounds like a good title for a song! Peace.

  • People like these are the problems with society.

    Everybody is happy, I dare say obsessed with being mediocre. They actually think that having integrity, morals, values, ethics, or some other virtue matters. Virtues are traps that make people weak and whiny.

    I do not have any problem compromising my integrity to succeed. I often find that when I do not compromise, I cheat myself. Games are meant to be played and won. As long as I win, I feel good. I leave the ethics debates to the people that cannot figure out a way to win. You don’t have to cheat to win, but you don’t have a valid opinion if you are not a winner.

  • bushsucked

    I have been professional musician and audio engineer for well over 4 decades. I applaud the Twins for their stance. But I also realize that commercial success has little to do these days with talent, and a lot more to do with who you know and who they decide to promote. You see, there are an incredible number of extremely talented musicians in the world. As an audio engineer working typically 6 or 7 days a week in southern California, I saw incredibly talented musicians who went nowhere, while lame, overly commercialized acts who were “promoted” often became popular. Promotion takes money, and the people that have the money want to control where it goes and how much they get back for their investment. The problem is that we have a dumbed down population (the effect of staring at a TV set or video game) who think celebrity or “fame” is more important than talent. These people can be “sold” on a performer and subsequently contribute to that celebrity by purchasing albums, etc. which create the fame and fortunes so many desire as indicative of success. It started really with “Saturday Night Fever” and the idea that an album, backed by a movie and a popular culture blitz could reap predictable profits when manipulated by the media. Thus began the commercialization of the music industry. MTV followed shortly thereafter and further degraded the idea that fame should be based on talent alone, as the young and beautiful forced the less visually attractive out of the spotlight and demanded a visual perception of music with the advent of “music videos”. Music is an aural medium, to be listened to….not watched. But it reaped enormous commercial success and really led to the concept we have now. Almost all “popular” music these days is garbage, totally formulaic nonsense as witnessed by rap (an interesting social phenomenon, but certainly not music), “country” music, which is nothing other than commercial pop music played with “country” instrumentation, and video/TV-backed popular music, where the image of the performer is far more important than their actual talent. I like “American Idol”, although I don’t watch it anymore, because it does open the door to people with talent to showcase that ability and perhaps attain some level of exposure and hopefully success as a musician that might otherwise elude them. Certainly 99% of the performers would never be given access to a national television audience without the show. What the performers do with that exposure is up to them. The idea of rejecting the show because it is a competition is ridiculous, in my opinion, because almost every aspect of life contains some level of competition, including 99% of all orchestras and most forms of any level of compensated music, as the best performers are given the best opportunities. The Shook Twins participate in this aspect of the music industry, just as any other performer who is seeking to be compensated does, by accepting paid engagements over others who might want to play in that limited time-frame. But I respect their commitment to their ideals and have seen them a couple times. (Although the sound at their performances has been little short of awful both times I’ve seen them. I enjoyed their album, which I received at the NW Bookers Conference, and they are talented, and I recommend the recorded version.)

  • Bravo!

  • William Brake

    Amen. Artists interested in the art and willing to do it on their terms, under their control. American Idol and the other programs like it are making huge profits on the backs of the artists they have on the show. Yes, some of them get the fast track to fame, but that is short lived for most. The artists that come up on their own are typically better equipped to have long careers and typically keep more rights to their material and better control over their art.

  • This was a great opportunity for them, it does not come twice, they miss a good chance for big exposure.

  • Ozzy Osgood

    I quit a Black Sabbath tribute band because I was tired of being told to shave off my beard to look like Ozzy. I don’t snort ants off the freaking sidewalk, either, why would I want to impersonate Ozzy Osbourne? It’s not enough to sing and entertain a crowd?

  • Robert Kegel

    American Idol must be desperate to ask an already popular duo to audition separately. I never heard their music, but I’ve heard of them (in passing). Being a rocker I never thought American Idol was a reputable show anyway (neither is The Voice or any other singing show on TV).

    I love their answer though. Maybe I’ll take a listen to a song or two of theirs.

  • Robert Kegel

    American Idol must be desperate to ask an already popular duo to audition separately. I never heard their music, but I’ve heard of them (in passing). Being a rocker I never thought American Idol was a reputable show anyway (neither is The Voice or any other singing show on TV).

    I love their answer though. Maybe I’ll take a listen to a song or two of theirs.

  • Jane

    It’s obviously a cry for help to save that dying show. They would put this talented duo up and make them create drama, so the spectators will tune into their show. And then, there’ll be them joker judges who’ll critisize one of the sisters and cause even more drama, all for the sake of television. Utterly stupid. Good on the twins to reject them outright.

  • Georgio

    American idol is a shortcut to Satan! Just sayin’.

  • Lindy Ellenbaum

    spent the evening at a Shook Twins Show in Minneapolis last night, I cant tell you how much fun it was, they are Beautiful, Funny, Entertaining, and they can Sing. They don’t need a carnival talent show to tell them who they are, once you’ve heard them you will remember they are the Shook Twins. There Fan base is growing leaps and bounds because they are Entertainers, who can write there own music, and make your Feet move.

  • Roxene Kimes

    Yes sir ee / I wondered about just how much of this idolizing would get turned inward.

  • 3000 Records

    Walking into Starbucks and expecting a non-corporate environment is like expecting American Idol to cater to a Folk Music Duo that writes their own stuff. While I’d rather listen to the Folk Duo, if I tuned into American Idol, I would absolutely Not expect to see them there singing as a duo against others who perform solo. They did the right thing in my opinion by not giving up their team, for a chance to be the next American Idol. However, when it comes to a great way for national exposure, American Idol has done a great job based on the business model they hold true to. Unlike some people’s complete ignorance (and those who jump on the bandwagon) in today’s culture, just because something is different or unique, does not make it bad. American Idol is something I can tolerate, and even respect as a media outlet for certain Entertainers who are, well.. great at performing as Singers.

    However, this is much different than someone who performs as an Artist. There is clearly a difference between someone who is an amazing Vocalist vs.someone who is an Artist (although some people can be both). There are are many famous Artists who would probably never have made it on American Idol like Jack Johnson, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Prince, Taylor Swift, etc.. the list could go on and on. However, bashing American Idol for catering to solo performers who sing cover songs for the masses is probably like bashing CD Baby for no longer being a small web site selling music by a small number of Musicians, like back in the 1990’s.

    Simply put, American Idol is probably just not a good fit for either of these Folk Singers (then again who knows). At least they were open minded enough to ask (but how dare they). That doesn’t make American Idol bad.. A simple (and humble) “no thanks” would have been enough vs. a dramatic letter. The fact is, American Idol doesn’t allow duos. Is there something actually wrong with that? However, doesn’t that make things a bit more interesting when some Folk Singers can get dramatic and publish their letter about actually being asked to try out for American Idol.

    Warm Regards,

    Music Business Connection

  • Uncle Joe Stalin

    Never heard their music, but I hear their integrity loud and clear.

  • Uncle Joe Stalin

    Never heard their music, but I hear their integrity loud and clear.

  • Lance Little

    Thanks so much fit taking to time to share the truth about music is really about.

  • Tyvian Corry

    They know what it is to truly be an artist with principles that represent their core being of who they are. Kudos to them for standing up to the machine of the industry and making a difference while keeping in line with their beliefs.

  • Bill Emerson

    A friend I dearly love was asked to audition for The Voice. He is an established musician with many independent albums and has toured and opened for many big names. After much soul searching, he also turned them down because their contract pretty much gave them domain over all of his future and past music. He would have had to relinquish total control of his career .