The Other Famous Amos

by Lisa Dawson

When Reverend Shawn Amos thinks of Texas, the big, open, blue sky comes to mind. 

As a musician, author, business owner and global traveler, Amos relocated in 2018 to Frisco from Los Angeles to continue his career in music and break into writing. He says the immensity of the sky and open spaces of North Texas have fueled his creativity. 
“I even named one of my albums Blue Sky,” he says. “Frisco is a place where I let my imagination run free.”
The Reverend Shawn Amos & The Brotherhood, a blues band, is Amos’ musical destination for his imagination. A collaboration of harmonica blues and soulful folk, the band tours extensively and records albums at Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio in Wimberley, Texas. 
 Amos self-manages his busy music career with the help of publicists, agents and his lawyer. But it is just one of the many hats he wears – literally and figuratively (he frequently is seen wearing an actual hat). 
Amos moved to Frisco to be closer to his three children, Piper, 21, Ellis, 17, and Harper, 13. When the pandemic started, he began writing Cookies & Milk, the story of a young boy (also named Ellis) who spends a summer with his father at a cookie store they open together. Through this process, father and son bond and gain a deeper understanding of one another. 
The story’s theme mimics Amos’ own childhood. Growing up in Hollywood in the 1970s, Amos’ father, Wally, founded the Famous Amos cookie empire in a small A-frame store on famed Sunset Boulevard. 
The younger Amos helped his dad at the store as a child, using milk crates to reach the cash register. His job was to work in the front of the store and help customers while his father made cookies in the back. Amos’ grandmother was also there, tending to a greenhouse she kept in the back of the store. 
 “It was very Hollywood in the ‘70s,” Amos says. “It was a little store with wooden plank floors and lots of plants. But being there were some of the happiest times in my childhood.”

Amos grew up in a musical, entertainment-focused family. Before becoming famous as a cookie mogul, Wally Amos worked in New York City at the William Morris Agency and was the first black talent agent in the industry. In 1975, he launched Famous Amos cookies after dabbling in baking and leaning into a new hobby to relieve stress. 
Amos’ mother, Shirlee May, was an R&B singer who made a name for herself on New York City’s club circuit in the 1960s. After a lifelong battle with mental illness, she took her own life in 2003. 
Amos says he looked inward at his upbringing and coming of age in Hollywood as inspiration for his book. 
“A lot of my music is biographical,” he says. “And the book Cookies & Milk is biographical as well. It’s based on my own relationship with my father and now my relationship with my son.” 
 In the dedication, he notes that the book is for his father and his only son, Ellis, after whom the main character is named. 
“When I moved to Frisco, it was to be closer to my son and two daughters. I had some repairing to do with my relationships,” he says. When the pandemic forced Amos to temporarily stop touring, he turned to writing daily. 
“The book is a lot about a black kid growing up in Hollywood. Although Los Angeles is seen as a multi-cultural metropolis, when you break it down by neighborhood, there’s not a lot of diversity. That’s one of the things I love about Frisco: diversity. It really goes against the stereotype of Texas, but I’ve met people here who I would never have met otherwise.”
 One of those people is Amos’ girlfriend, Jinny Cho. She opened Detour Doughnuts in 2018 and has been bringing her gourmet doughnuts and craft coffee to the community ever since. Amos says she helped him discover Dallas-Fort Worth’s food scene. “I love making weekly trips to the Dallas Farmers Market and Oak Cliff,” he says. 
When he’s not touring with his band, recording in the studio, writing or traveling, Amos enjoys kayaking on Lake Lewisville, biking and playing with his dog by a creek near his  West Frisco home. 
 As for the Reverend title, Amos recalls that during one of his tours in Italy, following his set, a bandmate said the crowd was shouting “Reverendo!” 
“My buddy told me, ‘They’re calling you reverend,’ and it just stuck.” 
Amos eventually became a reverend through an online course and has officiated a few weddings. “My music is my church,” he says. 

Amos is touring with his band and in the process of writing a sequel to Cookies & Milk, which is being developed as an animated series by Disney. His next book is due in September 2023 and will continue the story of his childhood, during which he experienced an artistic, creative environment with parents who weren’t afraid to take risks. 
If given the chance, Amos said he would go back in time and tell his 12-year-old self, “Keep the faith.” 

Lisa Dawson is a freelance writer and Frisco resident.

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