Shawn Ellison has worked as a musician in Austin, Texas since 1982. He is a pianist, but has also performed as a composer, arranger, bandleader, organist, vocalist, musical director, and dance class accompanist. Mr. Ellison often performs as a soloist, but is equally comfortable performing with a duo, trio, quartet, quintet, or big band. He has been privileged to share the stage with Cat Anderson, Slide Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Gorshin, and Phyllis Diller. In 1985, his original dance suite “Texas” was performed at the University of Texas’ Bass Concert Hall. In 1986, he was asked by the Austin Music Umbrella to perform some of his original compositions in a composers’ concert at the Dougherty Arts Center.
He has worked extensively with dancers and choreographers, and was integral in the formation of two children’s dance/movement programs, Believe In Me and Something’s Afoot. During his seven-year tenure as Musical Director for Something’s Afoot, Shawn wrote songs and composed instrumental music for three hour-long shows, which were performed at Bass Concert Hall in Austin.
Mr. Ellison accompanies ballet classes at Ballet Austin and at the University of Texas at Austin. He accompanies eurythmy classes at the Austin Waldorf School. He has worked with the Joffrey Workshop TX in San Antonio every summer since 1987.
His band, Native Sun, won Best Jazz Band in the Austin Chronicle Music Poll in 1990, 1991, and 1992. The band’s eponymous album included several original compositions, including “Salami Stomp” which won an award in the Austin Music Umbrella’s Composer’s Competition. The band members parted ways in 1992, but occasionally get together for a reunion performance.
In 1990, Mr. Ellison traveled to Scotland with the UT Jazz Orchestra to perform in the Aberdeen International Youth Festival. In 1998, he traveled to Japan to perform with the Legends in Concert. In 2018, Mr. Ellison traveled to Spain to perform with the SoCo Women’s Chorus. Mr. Ellison works regularly with the Austin Jazz Workshop, an educational program for elementary schoolchildren. In 2021, he took over as Musical Director for the Austin Jazz Workshop.
Mr. Ellison has performed at Tarry House, a private club, since 1989. He has played at Truluck’s, Perry’s, the Driskill Hotel, Eddie V’s, the Four Seasons, and many other Austin venues. He has worked with Esther’s Follies and played for several years with Mr. Fabulous and his band. He recently played with the Austin Symphony Orchestra at the Long Center in a pops concert. He has worked at numerous churches, and currently serves as pianist for Sunday morning services at Saint John Lutheran Church and Sunday evening services at St. James Episcopal Church in Austin. He performs regularly with jazz vocalist Julie Slim and her band, RendezVous. Julie and Shawn have co-written several original songs, and continue to write new music together.
Mr. Ellison holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s Degree in Legal Studies from Texas State University.
Mr. Ellison served on the Executive Board of the Austin Federation of Musicians from 2012 to 2014. He is proud to be associated with Symphony of Soul, for whom he sometimes leads singalongs for Alzheimer’s patients. He continues to play at weddings, parties, and corporate events.