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

YANKTON, SD (KTIV) — Vocalist and guitarist Shawn Coles has been performing for more than 50 years. He has performed all over the world: from his hometown of Yankton, South Dakota to Los Angeles and even overseas in Europe.

But his career was cut short in October 2021, after a shocking medical visit.

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

After doctors found cancer cells in two of his lymph nodes, Coles was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. And after major surgery that damaged his vocal cords, Coles’ vocal range dropped significantly from to what it was before.

“It’s really not too much fun that I can’t sing that higher register stuff,” Coles said. “But it makes me explore music that I never would have done before.”

Now, after more than a year of hard work and determination, Coles will have his first performance since 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 community support and looks forward to a strong turnout and a great show.

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

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

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

Coles will perform this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Muddy Mo’s Coffee House in Yankton.