After Leaving Justin Timberlake's Label, The Sh-Booms' Brenda Radney Forges Her Own Path When Brenda Radney entered NPR's Tiny Desk Contest with her band The Sh-Booms, she was no stranger to music competitions: She once entered a contest that led to her signing with Timberlake.
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After Leaving Justin Timberlake's Label, A Garage-Soul Singer Forges Her Own Path

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After Leaving Justin Timberlake's Label, A Garage-Soul Singer Forges Her Own Path

After Leaving Justin Timberlake's Label, A Garage-Soul Singer Forges Her Own Path

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Now to NPR's Tiny - NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest. We've been talking with musicians who didn't win this year's competition, but whose music has stayed with us. This week, The Sh-Booms of Orlando, Fla.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SH-BOOMS, "ROLLING DOWN LIKE THUNDER")

BRENDA RADNEY: My name is Brenda Radney, and I am 33 years old. And I am in the Orlando garage soul band called The Sh-Booms. Garage soul is what a garage band is, like, a bunch of fools in a garage not trying to make pretty music but just getting together and being creative.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROLLING DOWN LIKE THUNDER")

THE SH-BOOMS: (Singing) That's why I says get yourself some sense. You left the funk. God, you're sick. Black hair looking most definite. One look at me (ph)...

RADNEY: I went to college for music composition and audio recording technology in Long Island, and I dropped out because what I really wanted to do was to perform. There was a contest to sing at the Grammys with Justin Timberlake, and I didn't win. I made it from top 12 to top three. And Justin really liked the fact that I wasn't just a singer. I wasn't just a pretty face. So he asked me to sign with his label Tennman Records.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "X TO YOUR O")

THE SH-BOOMS: (Singing) If I'm the X to your O, oh, oh, oh, oh, then show me, baby. Let me know.

RADNEY: I had been signed to Justin for roughly eight years, and I was in the process of recording a full-length album. However, his label was dropped from Interscope before that came to fruition. And so I've moved on, and that's where we are now with The Sh-Booms.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SH-BOOMS SONG, "AUDIBLE")

RADNEY: We submitted because - I have known about Tiny Desk forever. I knew all about this contest. I didn't write the song. Al wrote the song because he's the writing genius (laughter) of the band, and we had a photo shoot. And Al's like, hey, we should try to submit because I think they're closing the submissions, like, tomorrow or something like that. We were like, yeah, yeah. Everybody had their gear. And we just made it happen.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AUDIBLE")

THE SH-BOOMS: (Singing) So tell me, is this the girl you see?

RADNEY: The song is called "Audible." And the context of the song is speaking to a significant other or an ex-lover and basically telling them that, hey, you're making my life really difficult, and I'm kind of pumping the brakes on this. It's everybody's favorite song. It's the last song that we usually sing and play when we're performing. It's a very heartfelt and soulful song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AUDIBLE")

THE SH-BOOMS: (Singing) When I'm coming (unintelligible). You'll never...

RADNEY: I go back and forth between, like, I want to do this as a career versus I do this for fun. I think when I had the deal, it became not fun and that bothered me. Now, I do this for fun. Even though I am broke, (laughter) it doesn't matter. But at the same time, I do sort of wish that I could make this a full-time thing.

We've had a great year. We opened for the B-52s. We've opened for The Roots when they've come to Orlando, so. And we've had a lot of really awesome opportunities. I wouldn't mind working on my own stuff. I have no problem doing that. But as it stands right now, Brenda and The Sh-Booms are a thing. And we're going ride this puppy until the legs fall off.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SH-BOOMS SONG, "USAGE FEE")

SIMON: Brenda Radney of The Sh-Booms in Orlando.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "USAGE FEE")

THE SH-BOOMS: (Singing) Well - scraping change, plans are delayed...

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