Yankton-based musician to perform for first time in over a year after cancer diagnosis

Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 6:08 PM CST
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YANKTON, SD (KTIV) - Singer and guitar player Shawn Coles has been performing for more than 50 years. He’s played all over the world: from his hometown of Yankton, South Dakota to L.A. and even overseas in Europe.

But his career was put on hiatus in October 2021, after a shocking doctor visit.

“It felt like my tongue was tingling,” said Coles. “They were looking at my tongue. They couldn’t find anything there, and they found underneath my tongue, that that was where the tumor was.”

After doctors found cancerous cells on two of his lymph nodes, Coles was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. And after major surgery that damaged his vocal cords, Coles’ vocal range has dropped quite a bit from where it was before.

“That really isn’t too fun that I can’t sing that higher register stuff,” said Coles. “But it’s having me explore some music that I would’ve never done before.”

Now, after a year-plus of hard work and determination, Coles will have his first performance since the diagnosis, this Saturday night, Nov. 19, at Muddy Mo’s Coffee House in Yankton. Coles says, although a little nervous, he’s been touched by the outpouring of support from the community and is looking forward to a solid turnout and a great show.

“For years, Shawn’s been there for, kind of the best time of people’s lives,” said Katie Hunhoff, a longtime friend of Coles and the owner of Muddy Mo’s. “You know, for weddings--to play music for weddings. You know, going out on Friday night for a good time with your friends. Shawn’s been there for our community for all those great times, and now we’re going to be there for him.”

While Coles says the break from singing was tough, he also was able to take away an important lesson from the experience.

“It really made me sit back and think of the things that really, really, truly are important,” said Coles. “You know, breathing, family, friends. You know, all the things that really truly do matter.”

Coles will be performing this Saturday at 6:30 PM, at Muddy Mo’s Coffee House in Yankton.