"Dialogue and music are combined excellently and equally without either outshining the other. I left feeling uplifted, inspired and with the strong urge to play some piano. This show deserves a big audience!" Dylan Mooney, 16 August 2022 Read Full Review
"Shaw is an engaging presence onstage, as she plays for us. She wows us with a fiendish piece of Brahms, an audition piece for the Manhattan School [of Music]. This is a show built for classical music fans - it is stuffed full of goodies from Beethoven to Brahms. But behind the pyrotechnics, there is a real psychological insight at work. Shaw's enigmatic father, and his coolness towards his family, means he is frustratingly out of reach and unaccountable." Helen Tope,
14 August 2022 Read Full Review
"The light-hearted hour is thoroughly enjoyable...as Shaw handily weaves the story and musical excerpts into an engaging program. She is charming and relatable. There are moments of humour mixed with sadness, as we are silently cheering for Shaw to achieve her dream." Patricia Silver, 9 August 2022 Read Full Review
"What elevates Shaw's show above many of her contemporaries doing the same thing is that, as well as being a rigorous and personable storyteller, she's also an extremely talented pianist. Nicolson Square is a world away, but she fills it with story and music, playing classical excerpts alongside her own tale of growing up. Shaw's formative years were in the 1970s, and her description of New York is...a place and time of great personal and musical growth for her. Her story is as melodic as the music she plays." David Pollock, August 27 2022
"Warm & wholehearted, @CynthiaSings entwines her musician's memoir with delightful, effortlessly played classical pieces. Simple staging-a lone keyboard-focuses the drama, centering characters, struggles & self-doubts on an inspiration road to success." 4/5 August 25 2022
"During her journey, Shaw encountered a plethora of obstacles. Some of those obstacles were frightening. Some were humorous. All became the inspiration for 'Velvet Determination.'"
Luke Lyons, December 2018 The Pueblo Chieftain
"Velvet Determination is the story of one woman’s journey through her lifelong love of the piano. It’s that classic tale of a small-town girl who moves to NYC, is plagued by demons of self-doubt, drops a piano in the living room, and succeeds despite all of it. Cynthia...displays a sweet on-stage innocence as she spins her tale through piano, song, and storytelling. I left her show asking the question, Do we succeed because of our demons, or despite them?"
Sara Sahara, August 2019 Boulder Fringe Review
"This is a sweet show...the keyboard is centre stage. Cynthia's story is interspersed with and accompanied by her piano performance. She's a skillful pianist and...deftly charts her own growing confidence as a musician and simultaneously manages to land a good amount of information about the challenges inherent in playing the piano. Shaw brings a self-effacing charm to her story-telling, talking with touching honesty about being beset by doubts, even as her talent is acknowledged and recognised over again. She has an astute eye for detail. Cynthia fulfills her dream - though at what cost? ...this is a window into an incredibly talented artist's development as a performer - with live piano music on the side: a wee Fringe treat." Claire Wood, 25 August 2022 Read Full Review
Edinburgh Audience Reviews
“When Cynthia Shaw sits down at the piano and casually busts out Bach’s Allegro from Italian Concerto, you know Velvet Determination isn’t your average Fringe show. Her story is compelling…[her] tenacity in moving forward after failure is inspiring…[and her] mastery of classical piano is impressive…The moments in which Shaw is most vulnerable are really impactful.”
Hilary Sutton, July 2019 DC Metro Theater Arts
"Every story Shaw tells rings with authenticity and honesty. That is a prerequisite for any autobiographical performance, to be sure, but Shaw has a beautiful way of recapturing her own youthful exuberance that keeps the work light yet sincere."
Alex Miller October 2018
"Shaw as the sole performer earnestly tells her story, full of a quiet energy, interspersing her narrative with snippets of piano playing. She introduces us to the many people who had a part in inspiring her...and describes her anxieties over being a worthy pianist. Shaw...clearly knows her way around the keys, and she shows us what a little perseverance can accomplish."
Pittsburgh in the Round, March 2019
"Of course, determination is nothing without good obstacles to overcome, and Shaw's story has plenty...the biggest sell...is Shaw's beautiful playing and knack for whimsical storytelling. If you're looking for an uplifting affirmation of the rewards of hard work, look no further than "Velvet Determination."
"Her unbridled optimism leaves no time for anxious moments to simmer."
Christopher Popple October 2018