Crystal Shawanda was born in Ontario, Canada, and grew up on a Native American reservation called Wikwemikong on Canada's Manitoulin Island. She wrote her first song at age 9 and cites Loretta Lynn as her childhood hero. Her father was a truck driver whose route regularly led him from Michigan to Nashville. Accompanying him on many of the trips, she was 11 when she made her first visit to Nashville and watched singers and musicians through the window at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. She made an album on her own at age 12 and sold copies of it to pay for future trips to Nashville to pursue her music career. At 13, she made her first appearance at Tootsie's and received encouragement from a drummer who had worked in Loretta Lynn's band. Shawanda kept returning to Nashville, singing regularly at Tootsie's, and finally moved to Nashville to concentrate on her music. She is slated to release her U.S. debut on RCA in 2008.