Today’s Song: Shayla McDaniel’s Invigorating “Awake” Is a Spirited & Rousing Ode to Sleep

Shayla McDaniel © 2023
Shayla McDaniel © 2023
An invigorating and anthemic ode to sleep, Knoxville singer/songwriter Shayla McDaniel’s new song “Awake” is a radiant outpouring of passion and energy recognizing that the only way to be fully awake, is to first get to sleep.
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Stream: “Awake” – Shayla McDaniel

There’s nothing like the feeling of waking up bright eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to make the most of your day and tackle all that lies ahead. So why do we so often get up in the morning, and our knee-jerk reaction is to go right back to sleep? What’s keeping our fully animated selves at bay? In most cases, the answer is surprisingly simple and obvious: We need more sleep! The eight hours of the day we don’t talk about are the hours that matter most, because they’re what fuel the other sixteen for the entirety of our lives! It’s easy to overlook sleep; to see it more as a surrender, than as a friend; to treat it as an afterthought that you’ll get to, when you need to get to it – but without a good night’s sleep, we can’t possibly be our best – and don’t take it from me; study after study shows just how important sleep is for our short- and long-term health.

In honor of Sleep Awareness Month, singer/songwriter Shayla McDaniel has penned what can only be described as an anthemic ode to sleep: A radiant song full of soaring, spirited energy, “Awake” is an invigorating outpouring of passion recognizing that the only way to be fully awake, is to first get to sleep.

In other words, if this were a chicken-or-egg contest, sleep would always come first.

AWAKE - Shayla McDaniel © Nadia Harris Design
Awake – Shayla McDaniel
I don’t know why
I’m always tired
I sleep all day and I sleep all night
I just wanna be awake to live my life
All I feel like doing is just going back to sleep
My super soft supportive bed’s got such a hold on me
Is everything breaking down
Or is it just in my head

Independently released March 14, “Awake” is Shayla McDaniel’s rousing, exhilarating first song of the year. A singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Knoxville, Tennessee, McDaniel prides herself on being an advocate for mental health awareness, especially in communities of Color. Her art is a direct reflection of that : Last year, she released her debut album Take Care, a stunning ten-track collection that seamlessly blended vulnerable and empathic lyrics with energetic indie pop and indie rock sonics. Highlights include the high-energy opener “Alright” and the open-hearted “Let Me Breathe (How to Break Our Hearts),” to the achingly expressive finale, “Better Days” – and while truly each of her songs stands on its own as a catchy and cathartic outpouring of self-expression, all of McDaniel’s art contains through-lines that effectively, evocatively capture our shared core humanity.

Shayla McDaniel © 2023
Shayla McDaniel © 2023

“I process my feelings through my songs,” McDaniel shares in her artist biography. “Sometimes, I start off feeling confused or neutral, and I let the music take me away. In my songs there are recurring themes of loving others, loving yourself, and mental health. I feel like if you look after yourself, you’ll be equipped to take care of others. I struggle with depression, and now that I have more of a platform, I want to share my story and shine a light on mental health issues.”

Not only is “Awake” on brand for McDaniel, but it’s also as memorable as it is meaningful. After all, the song is named “Awake” – not “Asleep.” McDaniel’s captivating voice soars as a beacon of light and love as she brings it all home in an inspiring, enthusiastic chorus:

I wanna be awake
I wanna wake up
I wanna soak it in
Every second I get

For McDaniel, “Awake” means so much more words on the page. “Do you ever feel like you can’t ever wake up? Like you’re always tired? That’s the feeling that inspired me to write ‘Awake,'” she tells Atwood Magazine. “I’m releasing the song for Sleep Awareness Month as a reminder to take care of yourself with good sleep hygiene. Needless to say, good sleep is good for physical and mental health. I deal with depression, and I’ve come to learn that taking care of my body with good sleep is one of the ways I can take care of my mind.”

“‘Awake’ took roughly a year to write and record. I remember one week specifically, when I felt like I just couldn’t wake up, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t shake the grogginess that comes from feeling worn-down and always tired. I wrote in my journal,  ‘I don’t know why I’m always tired. I sleep all day and I sleep all night. I just want to be awake to live my life.’ About four months later, these lines became the opening to the song. I had been working on the instrumental for what’s now ‘Awake’ for about a month before I was able to put words to it. When the music was finished, I just started going through my notes to see which words, if any, that I had written down, would fit. The first verse lyrics were a match to the mood and groove, so I just kept singing, riffing, and making up words until I landed on the chorus.”

“I snagged another lyric from my notebook for the second verse,” she continues. “I knew what I wanted to say for the pre-chorus/build up, but didn’t know how to say it, so I kept mumbling around till I found it. The last lyrics I wrote were for the bridge, and I was having the same problem there: “How do I say ‘My bed will always be there. It’s not going anywhere’ in a way that I like?” I wrote that down and started playing with ideas, then it hit me. That’s exactly what I want to say, and it rhymes! I hope that people enjoy this song, and that it gives them a fun opportunity to bop their heads while they scream at the top of their lungs in a cold shower at 6 AM before attacking their day.”

Shayla McDaniel © 2023
Shayla McDaniel © 2023

There’s no denying just how triumphant and animated this song is. It may be an ode to sleep, but “Awake” is no lullaby; McDaniel poured heaps of energy and passion into giving this song the charge and charm it has today. Whether you’re a fan of the snooze button, a cat-napper, or a diehard 8-hour sleeper, there’s no sleeping on this song. Shayla McDaniel has set the bar ever-higher with a song that perfectly blends pop sensibilities with real, raw sentiment. Let this be your pump-up jam, as well as an everlasting reminder to take care of yourself with good sleep hygiene.

After all, the only way to be fully awake is to first get to sleep.

What day is this Is there anything that I missed
I’m living in the future present and past
Am I talking in circles, am I making any sense
My bed will always be there
It’s not going anywhere

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Stream: “Awake” – Shayla McDaniel

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AWAKE - Shayla McDaniel © Nadia Harris Design

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