BARNEGAT, NJ – Barnegat High School sophomore Shannon Harrington is what’s known as a triple threat as they say in the world of show business. According to audiences around the country, Shannon’s voice, acting skills, and quick dance steps make her a package deal. Amazingly, 16-year-old Shannon has little to no professional training that’s helped to develop her natural gifts.
Innate talent seems to be the key to it all, as Shannon goes beyond the triple threat. She effortlessly strums away on both the guitar and mandolin and sometimes throws in a few blows to the harmonica when she performs. Meanwhile, Shannon’s never had instrumental lessons. While she’s looked at the occasional YouTube video for some tips, Shannon is basically self-taught.
Shannon’s professional show business career began when she was just four years old. By the time she was in third and fourth grade, the now Barnegat sophomore was already playing the big stage. For two years straight, Shannon traveled the country with the Broadway National Tour of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Her performances even earned her a write up by the esteemed Broadway World.
While some siblings might not be so quick to share the spotlight with their sisters, Shannon is the exception. She credits her older sister, Brigid, as the inspiration for pursuing her dreams. Big sister Brigid is 20 and a student at the University of Notre Dame, pursuing a degree in political science.
“My sister has been my role model from the start,” shared Shannon. “When we perform together, we’re simply known as the “Harrington Sisters.”
NBC’s America’s Got Talent recognized the talent of the dynamic singing duo during its fifth season. While the Harrington Sisters didn’t make it to the golden buzzer, their images still appear in regular promo ads.
On her own, Shannon has performed in a number of off-Broadway shows. She’s also recorded an assortment of radio commercials and acted in film. The complete breakdown appears on the young artist’s website.
It’s easy to understand why Shannon has achieved recognition in a business that’s hard for even adults to enter. She looks like everyone’s favorite girl next door. Meanwhile, Shannon is articulate and exudes a level of maturity beyond her years. Add to that Shannon’s drive and dedication – and you actually have more than an iconic combination.
Most recently, Shannon participated in the New Jersey Shout Down Drugs music competition, sponsored by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ), 95.9 WRAT and the New Jersey Broadcasters Association. Shannon was one of 13 finalists from six different counties, who created original songs promoting anti-drug and prevention messages.
“I first learned about this competition when my sister entered it years ago,” Shannon said. “She won the online voting part of the contest.”
No doubt, Brigid’s experience provided Shannon with some extra pointers. Shannon’s original song “Gonna Be Drug Free,” earned her first place by not only online voters. A panel of independent judges awarded her first place and a music contract worth $5,000. Her performance and lyrics are part of her online profile for the event.
In the meantime, Shannon takes her love for music a step further. And, once again, Shannon credits her sister Brigid for starting a project that’s taken off like wildfire.
“When Brigid was my age, she came up with Broadway ArtsReach,” explained Shannon. “We would go out within the community to spread our love for music. We continue to incorporate some history lessons as part of the entertainment.”
At first, the sisters concentrated their efforts in the Barnegat schools. However, their outreach has put them before senior citizens and into New York boroughs. Once Brigid took off for Notre Dame, the project expanded even further.
After Brigid was selected to sing with Todd Rundgren, she learned that he too headed up an outreach program. Rundgren’s Spirit of Harmony Foundation not only advocates for music education in public schools. It also donates musical instruments to children in need.
The Harrington Sisters were so impressed by the Rundgren’s organizational mission that they made a commitment. They agreed to donate a portion of proceeds earned by Broadway Arts Reach to the Spirit of Harmony.
Locally, Shannon takes it a step further. Before the recent stay at home orders, the teen regularly performed at Delights Artisan Café in Barnegat. She’s also shared her talents in various venues throughout Long Beach Island. When she receives tops, Shannon’s quick to donates a portion of to Rundgren’s Spirit of Harmony.
College is the next step in Shannon’s journey. She recognizes the importance of a solid education and has big plans.
“Part of my path includes getting into a good college,” Shannon shared. “I know I’ll look to do something in the arts. I’m just not sure yet if it will be performance or something else.”