Meet Ryan Shaw — an ‘old soul’ singer

The songs on R&B singer Ryan Shaw’s first album are, by design, different from what’s on mainstream radio.

Shaw, 26, says he doesn’t often watch videos of contemporary songs. For one thing, they aren’t very musical. For another, he doesn’t “get” the theme of most popular music.

“It creates this whole self-hatred thing,” he says, talking about tunes where the singer declares “I’m hot — and you’re not.”

Playing tonight, opening for Joss Stone at the Warfield in San Francisco, Shaw says, “People can be judgmental. My job is to show them love. My message is love.”

In a recent phone chat from the road in Austin, Texas, he calls “We Got Love,” the second track on “This is Ryan Shaw,” his signature tune.

His album recalls the classic soul sounds of acts including Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops, Aretha Franklin and Sam Cooke, whom he says he “channels.”

“I’m a sponge,” he admits.

He grew up in Decatur, Ga., and got his trainingsinging gospel in church, where he performed since he was 5. Somehow, he always knew he would be a singer: “God would give me dreams,” he says, of being onstage in front a lot of people.

He didn’t listen to secular music at all until he went to New York to begin a career as an actor and singer. He first found success in the Tyler Perry gospel musical “A Good Man Is Hard to Find (Part II).”

His next gig was at the Motown Cafe in New York, where he performed soul classics. Later he joined the Fabulous Soul Shakers, a soul and doo-wop group, which he found to be a natural fit. “I could lean more on my gospel roots,” he says.

Shakers’ guitarist Johnny Gale alerted longtime session musician Jimmy Bralower to Shaw’s talent; the result of their efforts is Shaw’s album on Columbia; the singer also calls it “God’s record deal.”

Shaw is looking forward to the day he’s headlining shows himself; in the meantime, he enjoys being on the road with his band.

Mostly though, when he’s not singing, he says, “I like silence. To be in peace. Pray. Meditate.”

Ryan Shaw, opening for Joss Stone

Where: The Warfield, 982 Market St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. today

Tickets: $35

Contact: (415) 421-8497 or www.ticketmaster.com

artsentertainmentPop Music & Jazz

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

School district, teachers reach tentative agreement on distance learning

With less than two weeks until the start of the school year,… Continue reading

Boudin, Gascon defend NFL in controversy over Stephon Clark video

Public service announcement prompted pushback from California prosecutors association

State bill would allow families of police brutality victims to seek compensation

A group of state and local officials on Thursday joined two family… Continue reading

Retired officers seek end to decade-old age discrimination case

Retired officer Juanita Stockwell was 60 when she and her colleagues first… Continue reading

San Francisco schools estimate $25m needed to close digital divide

Private donations being sought to fund internet access, technology

Most Read