How I Got Here: Shanti Wintergate, Play Date

 Shanti Wintergate

Shanti Wintergate

Shanti Wintergate is probably best known in the kids music world as one-half of the pop-punk kindie duo Play Date, but she's also a solo musician, actor, and children's book author (I Went For a Walk).  Wintergate and her Play Date partner, husband Greg Attonito, have a new Play Date album, We All Shine, coming out later this month, and in anticipation of that, both she and Attonito have written entries for "How I Got Here," the series where kids musicians write about influential music.

Wintergate's spin on the series is a little different than most in that rather than pinpointing influential albums, she's picked out a couple specific moments -- one in utero (!) -- that indicated a life in music might be for her... 


 Shanti Wintergate with mom and brother

Shanti Wintergate with mom and brother

As my mom tells it, the story begins in Hollywood, California where my mother’s family is from, where I was born, and where the beginning of my musical journey began - on stage, from inside my mom’s belly, kicking to the beat of the drums.  

I’ve been surrounded by music, since before I was born.  My parents are musicians who have performed together throughout the world since the late ‘60s, and up until the mid ‘80s the LA club circuit was their home stomping ground.  The owners of one of these LA clubs, known then as Gazzarri’s (located where the Key Club is today) wanted to throw a benefit concert featuring my parents’ band, Lightstorm, and a few other acts in support of Child’s Sunvillage Inc., a non-profit established by my parents to support arts, music and mindfulness programs to children around the world.

Although reluctant at 8 months pregnant (with me), my mom agreed to perform a set for this rock and roll event, “For the sake of the children of the world!” as she so passionately exclaims when telling the story.  As they began playing, and to my mother’s surprise and excitement, I began kicking to the beat of the drums, in utero.  This is a story that I’ve heard countless times, and as whimsical as this rock and roll fairy tale may sound, this is where it literally began for me.

 Shanti's parents on a motorcycle in costume

Shanti's parents on a motorcycle in costume

Throughout my life I’ve been immersed in the creative process of music, which began by singing with my parents, listening and watching them, and eventually learning how to play a few different instruments.  I was such a shy kid that my parents never pushed performing on me at all.  Creating music was one thing but performing it was a different beast all together.  It wasn’t something I was interested in doing at all until later in my teens.  It was something my parents did, not me.  It was something I watched famous musicians do, not little ole me.  

 Shanti as child, just barely taller than the guitars

Shanti as child, just barely taller than the guitars

All those silly thoughts shifted in me, the moment I saw a friend of mine pick up my dad’s guitar and perform an impromptu cover of a John Denver song in our living room.  In that moment, I was like, whoa… she just did that and it was AWESOME!  It didn’t matter how good or bad she sang or played that dang song, “Take me home, country road, to the place I belong…” but she did it!  It was so empowering to see someone who was my peer just casually pick up a guitar and accompany herself singing a song.  I was hooked!  It really took someone outside of my parents to impress this upon me even though my dad had offered to teach me guitar for years!  Ha, my damn teenager brain!  Looking back on her song choice now I almost giggle out loud because in that moment, I found my home and where I belonged… I can see that now. 

The very next morning I asked my dad to start teaching me how to compose songs and play guitar and I haven’t looked back.

In one way or another, the girl singing in my living room and the story that my mom tells me about kicking to the beat of the drum before I was born have shaped who I am today.  They’ve helped me remember how important it is to find that rhythm of life and to tune into that ever present symphony of the universe.  I believe we’re all born with this innate sense, even if we’re not the greatest dancers and even if our rhythm is so unique that it isn’t like anyone else’s on the planet.  We all just get where we are, in our own way, one step at a time.