Ryan Shaw Launches New Soul Revival The new CD by a young singer-songwriter pays homage to the soul sounds that dominated the airwaves in the 1960s and early '70s. This Is Ryan Shaw includes a mix of Shaw's own music and his interpretations of classic soul.
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Ryan Shaw Launches New Soul Revival

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Ryan Shaw Launches New Soul Revival

Ryan Shaw Launches New Soul Revival

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It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.

Ready to dance?

(Soundbite of song "Do the 45")

Mr. RYAN SHAW (Singer): (Singing) Forty-five, yeah. Do the 45.

NORRIS: Back when there were 45s, this kind of music dominated the airwaves in the '60s and early '70s. Now, a musician in his mid-20s has launched his own soul revival.

(Soundbite of song "Do the 45")

Mr. SHAW: (Singing) Have you heard about the shotgun? How bad it's going to be? I got news for you baby, just listen to me. You're twining and you're whining…

NORRIS: This is Ryan Shaw. That's the artist's name. It's also the title of his new CD. The release includes a mix of Shaw's own music and his interpretations of classic soul. Shaw grew up in a strict religious home in Decatur, Georgia. Gospel, he says, was the only music allowed.

Mr. SHAW: My mom didn't like the devil's music as she sometime called it. My mom's like a southern Pentecostal minister, so it was really about church and the only songs that I really knew - like, I hear pop music, like, in the grocery store, or if I was at the mall with some friends or whatever.

NORRIS: At a background music.

Mr. SHAW: Yeah. Well, it was foregrounding(ph) me because I love - anything music I love. So I was like, God, I wish I could find out who that was. But mom, can I go to the…

NORRIS: Really? So you'd be at the mall…

Mr. SHAW: Yeah.

NORRIS: …and you hear something and just yearning for what you hear on muzak?

Mr. SHAW: Yeah. And most of the time, it was old school artists. So, like, I've been here, like they will play, like, all Aretha and they will play some, you know, James Brown and, you know, a lot of Motown, they will play a lot, you know, sort of, a lot of Marvin Gaye and Temptations, Four Tops, Tammi Terrell.

But once I moved to New York, I worked at the Motown Cafe. And then, two years after that, I joined the Soul Shakers. We did Doo-Wop and '50s, '60s soul. That's when I really got into the era of music. And it felt like I've been singing it my whole life.

NORRIS: Was there a particular song that just got you?

Mr. SHAW: Yeah. "I Found a Love," Wilson Pickett, yeah.

(Soundbite of song "I Found a Love")

Mr. SHAW: It took over my persona, and I - well, one of the first times I found myself having like an out-of-body experience, like looking down at myself going, wow, boy, you are really singing, you know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SHAW: You are really - wow, what is this?

(Soundbite of song "I Found a Love")

Mr. SHAW: (Singing) I found a love. I found a love. I found a love that I need. I found the kiss.

It was the first time I was just singing a song where it came outside of myself and it wasn't gospel, you know. I mean, as growing up, you know, we learn, it's not about you. Stay out of self, you know. You sing it for God and do it for God. Don't be - just showing off, and just, you know, if it's coming from your heart and that's what it is. And it's the first time, I think, I was singing something that wasn't gospel and it was coming from my heart.

(Soundbite of song "I Found a Love")

Mr. SHAW: (Singing) I need you. I love you, baby, baby, baby. Yeah. Yeah.

NORRIS: Now, Ryan, when I listen to you singing "I Found a Love," you're singing a song about a woman and a woman who has, you know, left her imprint on a man's heart to the point that he is not himself anymore. You talked about your mother who's a Pentecostal minister. I can't help but wonder what she thinks when she hears you sing these songs?

Mr. SHAW: Well, she's proud. She is proud of me.

NORRIS: You're twisting all over in your chair, when you say that, though.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SHAW: No. She's - I mean, if I was singing gospel, she'd be ecstatic. I mean, I'm Christian myself so, there's nothing that me as a man of God would feel, you know, slight about something that I should be ashamed of. And I think my mom - she may put the record on, maybe listen to it, you know, once every blue moon. She's not going to put it on every day just because it's her son, because I know what her beliefs and how she feels. I mean, my message is love and God is love. So in a way, it's kind of the same but it's just not Gospel.

NORRIS: So she's okay with it?

Mr. SHAW: She's okay. Yeah.

NORRIS: That's good.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NORRIS: Why don't we listen to your song called "I'll Be Satisfied."

Mr. SHAW: Ah. Jackie Wilson.

NORRIS: Mm-hmm.

(Soundbite of song "I'll Be Satisfied")

Mr. SHAW: (Singing) Just a kiss, just a smile, hold my hand baby just once in a while. That's all I need. That's all I need and I'll be satisfied. Think of me when you're away. Call me darling just once a day. That's all I need. That's all I'll need and I'll be satisfied. True love came to me when I met you. True love makes me know I won't forget you. When you're around me, it makes me feel life is worth living, baby, love is so forgiving. Just a kiss, just a smile. Hold my hand baby just once in a while. That's all I need. That's all I need and I'll be no, no, no, no, no, no, no…

NORRIS: This release also includes some of your original compositions?

Mr. SHAW: We want to write songs that, you know, hopefully people will say stood up to the originals, because some writers today are a lot more, you know, faddish and cliche as in who can put the most trickiest word in to make it sound contemporary and then four years later, you know, nobody is saying that word anymore, which makes the song, you know, invalid.

You know, I like to use plain words and subject matter that's attainable by everyone as opposed to me saying you should be able to buy out the bar, or have a Escalade, or get the rims, because, you know, some people don't want that. You know what I'm saying? Some people can't afford that. A lot of music makes people hate where they are as opposed to meeting them where they are.

Everybody say keep it real and being in the ghetto. Well, people in the ghetto or in the projects can't buy Escalade. And if they couldn buy one, shame on them because you could just get a Honda and buy a house, you know. So it's like, you know, come on and let's do something, you know, more with ourselves.

So, you know, I think music about love and about life and, you know, things that is attainable by everyone opens people to say, let's be loved. Let's, you know, let's reach out for something great. Let's help my brothers and, you know, and that's kind of how we kept the sentiment on the records because that was true to what they wrote about back then. If your heart is broken, my heart is broken. I'm broke, baby just love me anyway, you know.

(Soundbite of song, "We Got Love")

Mr. SHAW: (Singing) We got love. You got me. If I got you baby, we got more than money. You are everything a man has been dreaming of. Oh, we got love. Baby, we got love. Yeah. And you know I love…

NORRIS: Now, Ryan, most of the cuts, in fact all of the cuts on this CD, you're backed by a fantastic band. But I have heard that you're wonderful at a cappella also. And there's one particular song that the people say you just nail every time, it's Sam Cooke's "Change is Going to Come." And I was wondering if you mind just giving us a taste of that. Just a taste.

Mr. SHAW: Okay. This song is not on the record, but I do open my live show with this song, so I guess that's where the rumor comes from. So…

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song, "Change is Going to Come")

Mr. SHAW: (Singing) I was born by the river in a little tent home. And just like the river, I've been running, I've been running ever since. It's been a long, a long time coming, but I know that change is going to come. Oh, yes, it is.

NORRIS: That's wonderful, Ryan.

Mr. SHAW: Oh, thank you.

NORRIS: Thank you. Thanks so much for coming in to talk to us.

Mr. SHAW: Thank you very much.

NORRIS: Ryan Shaw's debut CD is called "This is Ryan Shaw." You can hear more of Ryan's music at npr.org.

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