Recently, I attended a performance by musician-vocalist Shane D’Fury at 30A Music & Coffee in Santa Rosa Beach. Shane’s got class—a combination of vocal virtuosity, smooth and sweet as melted chocolate; and an irresistibly sunny charisma that cajoles the shiest audiences into belting out a familiar refrain.
Between numbers, he ad-libs good-humored asides. And during a song’s bridge, he jumps into a quick turn around on the “dance floor” with a lady fan. It is a one-man tour de force.
Shane’s a composer, self-taught in bass, drums, and, most of all, classic rhythm-and-blues piano. In addition to his own compositions, Shane’s repertoire is broad and deep, an hour and a half ranging from ‘50s doo-wop and Bill Withers to reggae countryman Gregory Isaacs and Shaggy.
Shane describes his boyhood years in Montego Bay, the third of seven brothers and sisters. At the age of four, he decided his life would be in the field of medicine, most likely a career where he could fix sick people.
By age nine, an awareness of his true vocation as a performer gradually dawned on Shane. At 14, he was offered directorship for his church’s children’s choir and was named youth choir director the following year. At that point, he was also designated pianist. On the side, Shane had taken up drums and bass. Ultimately, he directed the church’s adult choir, a classic path followed by so many popular American singers.
Come adolescence, Shane’s interests turned to a hipper world of music—“every kind of secular music,” he says. “Hey, I learned a lot about instrumentation from Whitney Houston.”
He describes vivid teenage memories of cruising with his father in the family car, submerged in the infectious rhythms and elegant soul of Motown coming from the radio. Shane says he considers performing Motown songs “an honor.”
“Then came the 2003 tourist season,” Shane says. “That’s when I became a cabaret performer. I’d been singing with four guys from church. We called ourselves Kahil. One of them found us a booking agent, and suddenly we were singing pop and reggae, church-style, at a local resort. My church people weren’t that pleased.”
“Gone to the musical Dark Side, you have!” I offer.
Shane grins. “That’s about the way my mom took it! But it was Mom who told me how gospel means ‘good news.’ So good news makes people happy, right? So why not any music that makes you happy?”
Shane always seems ready to take apprentice musicians under his wing. When I comment on his generosity, he shrugs. “I’m just networking.” Later, I ask Shane what he does for fun besides music.
“Well, I have a 250 Yamaha.”
Intrigued, I ask, “Ever fall down?”
“Yeah,” he laughs, launching into the tale of trying to pop a wheelie while standing on the saddle. “But that wasn’t the bad one. I hydroplaned the highway back home, 190 miles per hour, wearing jeans. Second degree burns. Thought I would never stop sliding!”
As a composer, performer and producer, Shane pretty much rates as a musicians’ musician, but he’s no slouch as a businessman and promoter either. Not counting his intimate cabaret performances, he also adds fizz to weddings and DJ gigs.
Come summer, “Close to Me”—a single from the upcoming album Feelin’ Irie (Jamaican for “copacetic”)—will be released. The album is scheduled for release in August. Social media folks, look for “Moche Latte,” the Shane D’Fury video to be released anon.