with a mission.
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.
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.
every song with the kind of emotional commitment and vocal panache
that have nearly vanished 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 audience. There's no posturing or mindless
booty-shaking, no need for contrived antics: Ryan Shaw is the real
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."
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 production 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 57th Street 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."
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 invested 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 classic 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 impressed by Ryan's talent, Johnny
urged his old friend Jimmy Bralower to check him out. As a percussionist
and drum programmer, 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 numbers with the Soul Shakers
including "Do the 45" and "I Found a Love."
proved to be heaven-sent. Ryan carefully chose from dozens of suggested
songs and shaped his own interpretations as Jimmy and Johnny "powered
up" the original arrangements with muscular bass and drums
while adding a guitar riff here or some handclaps there.
Even as they
reinvented such nuggets as Jackie Wilson's "I'll Be Satisfied"
and Bobby Womack's "Lookin' For A Love," the team created
new original songs that meshed seamlessly with the old ones. "The
core songwriting values of that period are so strong and so timeless
that even many of the non-hit soul records of the Sixties sound
like 'hits' today," says Jimmy. "Those are the values
we adhered to in writing and recording songs like 'Nobody' and 'We
did not go unrewarded. "Nobody" is now the first single
from This Is Ryan Shaw while "We Got Love" was prominently
featured in January 2007 promos for the ABC network television series
"Brothers and Sisters."
of his own writing shows that Ryan Shaw isn't just a great singer"
Jimmy Bralower declares. "He's a real artist, he's got something
to say, and he's going to be around for a long, long time."