Ryan Shaw is a man with a mission.
This 26-year-old singer/songwriter from Decatur, Georgia is out to revive the passion and soul of the Golden Age of Rhythm & Blues (1960-1972) for a new generation. His One Haven/Columbia debut album, This Is Ryan Shaw, combines a powerfully expressive voice with a clutch of great songs both classic and new—and a state-of-the-art, in-your-face sound that makes it impossible to sit still.
Working with player/producers Jimmy Bralower and Johnny Gale, Ryan dug deep into the “soul mine” for overlooked gems by obscure artists like the Combo Kings and the Sharpees along with more familiar songs made famous by Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson, and Bobby Womack. Ryan’s original tunes—“Nobody” (the first single), “We Got Love,” and “Over and Done” —are most definitely of the moment but built on the old-school values of strong melodies and meaningful lyrics.
Ryan delivers every song with the kind of emotional commitment and vocal panache that have nearly van¬ished from the mainstream musical landscape. Compositional craft and studio technology blend in an album of irresistible appeal from the opening dance blast of “Do the 45” to the heart-wrenching ballad “I Am Your Man” and “Over and Done,” the upbeat Ryan Shaw original that closes the set on a joyful, triumphant note.
On stage, Ryan brings it all together with a combination of Southern warmth and New York vitality. Using just a small rhythm section and two male backing vocalists, he’s able to effectively reproduce the sound of his album while stretching some tunes into full-on vocal rave-ups. Ryan’s thrilling voice and charismatic presence are all that he needs to get over with an audi¬ence. There’s no posturing or mindless booty-shaking, no need for contrived antics: Ryan Shaw is the real deal.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Ryan Shaw was born December 26, 1980 in Decatur, Georgia and grew up in a deeply religious Pentecostal family. He began singing in church at the age of five and later formed a family group with his four brothers called the Shaw Boys. “We didn’t listen to secular or pop music either in or out of our house,” he explains. “So my early musical influences are all from the gospel world—singers like Darryl Coley, Keith Brooks, James Moore, and the Pace Sisters.”
After briefly attending Georgia State University, Ryan successfully auditioned for the gospel musical A Good Man Is Hard to Find (Part II). In 1998, he joined the cast of I Know I’ve Been Changed, written and directed by Tyler Perry (Diary of a Mad Black Woman). Ryan came to New York with this pro¬duction and performed to sold-out crowds at the Beacon Theater.
After the closing of I Know I’ve Been Changed, Ryan joined the resident cast of the Motown Café on West 57thStreet where he performed Detroit soul favorites by the Four Tops and Marvin Gaye. Later he found another steady gig with a group that he says played “just about anything from the Fifties and Sixties that you could dance to—Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, Stax and Motown, Dion & the Belmonts, you name it.”
“With my church background, a lot of this material was new to me. But when I saw how those songs affected people, I began to understand how their own memories and emotions were in¬vested in the music. Now that was pretty cool.”
The more Ryan heard of the sounds of the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies, the more aware he became of the missing ingredients in contemporary music. “I’m into chords, melodies, lyrics, arrangements—I’m into music in all its aspects. It seems like the late Eighties were the last time we really had all these elements in Black music, with artists like Anita Baker and Luther Vandross. By the mid-Nineties, we were down to two chords and a drum loop.”
In 2004 Ryan was recruited into the Fabulous Soul Shakers, a vocal group specializing in clas¬sic soul and doo-wop. Johnny Gale, the group’s guitarist, is a New York music veteran who’s worked with everyone from Hank Ballard to the Ramones. Deeply im¬pressed by Ryan’s talent, Johnny urged his old friend Jimmy Bralower to check him out. As a percussionist and drum pro¬grammer, Jimmy was among the city’s most in-demand session players, having worked with superstars like Madonna, Peter Gabriel, and Steve Winwood.
One night in 2006, Bralower came down to hear Ryan sing at a small Lower East Side club…and was blown away by what he heard. He and Johnny Gale invited Ryan back to Jimmy’s basement studio on Long Island where they quickly cut four of Ryan’s featured num¬bers with the Soul Shakers including “Do the 45” and “I Found a Love.”
Live On Stage:
Ryan's kind of the new kid in town his debut album This Is Ryan Shaw came out last month. If you're a fan of old school soul and R&B music then this guy is for you. Check out this performance from Showtime At The Apollo....
The only other thing I can find out there is this EPK which should give you a little bit more insight into Ryan and his music....
For more on head on over to his official website.
Sunday, May 20, 2007