What happens when you get a Master’s degree in Oceanography, have a mom devoted to Early Childhood Education, have a career as a singer/songwriter and a teacher, have two young and curious children, and have a passion for helping and motivating kids? You become a national children’s “edu”-tainer, of course! After working and teaching on a marine research vessel through the University of South Florida , Shana Smith decided to take a leap of faith and explore her creative talents in singing and songwriting. Her mother’s preschool in Gainesville is where Shana discovered and developed her incredible joy of writing songs for children. Over the years, she became nationally known as “Shana Banana” and earned a reputation as one of today’s top children’s entertainers, with a voice that delves into blues, jazz, folk, and spiritual music as well.
Performing at major festivals, schools, libraries, and performing arts centers across the United States, Shana Banana has earned many prestigious awards along the way, including: two first-round Grammy nominations, Parents’ Choice, NAPPA, Kids’ First Coalition for Quality Children’s Media, and, in 2004, she won “Best Children’s Song In the Country” by the Just Plain Folks organization. Her music has taken her to the White House, Seattle’s Whirligig, the Florida Folk Festival, Merlefest, Seminole Tribe Indian Reservations, the Bluebird in Nashville, and various jazz, Americana and blues events across the country, as well as to yoga studios, spiritual centers and festivals for her “Chanting to the Open Heart” kirtan circles for adults and children.
Shana continues to develop a variety of live shows, study guides, and workshops for teachers, parents, and of course, kids. She has stayed close to her love of the environment and her home state of Florida by writing songs and educational programs for both children and adults, featuring mostly original music. Through her work with the Seminole Tribe of Florida and her connection to the environment, she has developed a wonderful musical program for adults entitled “From Mangroves to Orange Groves: A Musical Tour of Florida.” She also has a children’s version of the program, entitled “Banana Beach Party.” Both programs introduce audience members to the environmental and cultural wonders of Florida through music, and include discussion on today’s issues which affect those wonders. Shana continues her mission to effect global change by endorsing the Earth Charter and serving on its Board of Directors. She initiated an Earth Champs Chapter in Gainesville and St. Petersburg , Florida , and wrote a song for the Earth Scouts entitled “Heartbeat of the Earth.” She especially loves to use music to celebrate a child’s natural love of Life, Earth and the deep connections we have to each other, and our responsibility to be good stewards, and to teach and foster healthy lifestyles.