Whitney Shay

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About Whitney Shay

San Diego's Whitney Shay is an award-winning blues, soul, jump R&B singer and songwriter. Since releasing her 2012 debut, Soul Tonic, she has traveled the globe with her band, performed at festivals, on radio and television, and won four San Diego Music Awards including Artist of the Year for her second album, 2018's A Woman Rules the World. Her songs have been used extensively on television and in film, including syndicated shows on NBC and cable networks such as HBO, Bravo, BET, and in Tyler Perry's A Madea Family Funeral. In 2019, Shay signed to Germany's premier blues and roots label, Ruf Records. Shay grew up near Alpine, California on a ranch with Clydesdale horses. Her musical education came from listening to radio and blues and soul records. While in high school, Shay's family moved to the Japatul Valley near Jamul, and she began performing a USO-type show with her classmates consisting of standards from the 1930s and '40s (think the Andrews Sisters), giving the young singer some discipline in delivering the classics from the Great American Songbook. Her biggest influence, however, was Etta James and she was soon pursuing soul and blues full-time. After graduation, Shay formed a band that played locally in San Diego. She cut her debut outing, Soul Tonic, in 2012 at Archie Thompson's Stat Records studio and mastered by Alex McCollough at Yes Master, in Nashville. The set's 12 songs were rooted deeply in vintage blues, soul, and jump R&B. Among them were Isaac Hayes' and David Porter's "Your Good Thing (Is About to End)" and Etta James' classic "Can’t Shake It." Her studio musicians included Holly Hofmann on flute, trumpeter Mitch Manker (Ray Charles), guitarists Mike Thompson (Rod Stewart, Eagles), and bluesman Nathan James. Shay and her road band worked clubs all across the U.S. In 2017, she took home the Blues Artist of the Year award at the San Diego Music Awards and signed a single-album deal with the Little Village Foundation. The label issued her sophomore outing A Woman Rules the World. Produced by Kid Anderson, it received acclaim from American music critics. Blues Matters noted that she was "a future blues icon" and Elmore Magazine described her as "the epitome of a rising star." The album landed on several year-end best-of lists in America and Europe. Shay was a 2019 Blues Music Award nominee and took home the Best Blues Album and Artist of the Year trophies at the 2019 San Diego Music Awards. The album also netted the Sean Costello Rising Star Award from Blues Blast and nominations for Best Independent Blues R&B/Soul CD, Best Independent Female Blues Artist, and Best New Artist from the Independent Blues Awards She followed it with a tour of Brazil and played her first festival in Europe, backed by the Michael Zito Big Blues Band featuring B.B. King's horn section. During her international tour she signed to Germany's premier blues and roots label Ruf Records. Her third outing, Stand Up, was produced and arranged by Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff at Austin’s Wire Recording Studio in Austin, Texas, and included guitarist Laura Chavez. It also featured guest spots from Guy Forsyth, Derek "Big House" O'Brien, and Marcia Ball. Released at the end of February, it debuted on the Blues Album charts at number one. Shay was due to support it on Ruf's annual Blues Caravan tour with Ryan Perry and Jeremiah Johnson, but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ~ Thom Jurek

Alpine, CA, United States
September 16, 1985

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