Elvie Shane Makes Country Radio Debut with "My Boy"
If you’re going to be listening to country radio this week, you may want to have some tissues handy. Elvie Shane’s new single My Boy is likely to move you to tears — like it did with the music industry executives who signed Elvie to their Wheelhouse Records label after hearing the heartwarming ballad for the first time. The ode to his stepson just made its country radio debut September 21, 2020.
When Elvie sings the chorus, “He ain’t my blood, ain’t got my name/ But if he did, I’d feel the same,” he is referring to his 14-year-old stepson, Caleb, who came into his life as a young boy. Elvie co-wrote the tender song five years ago on the back porch of a house where he was renting a room, about 20 miles north of Nashville. But before that, there was a time when Elvie had no intentions of moving to Music City. “It wasn’t my scene. It wasn’t the kind of music I was writing, and I just didn’t know how I fit down here.”
Elvie grew up in rural Kentucky with three siblings, a dad who drove semi-trucks for a living, and a mom who worked at a factory. He was raised in a “strict Missionary Baptist religion” and attended church with his mom and siblings Sunday mornings. Elvie loved singing in his elementary school choir and at church — but thanks to the influence of his father — he was far from being a choirboy.
His dad, who was rough around the edges and went by the nickname Scratch, encouraged Elvie’s wilder side. “We’d get home from church and there’d be beer bottles laying around the driveway and some old Ford with its hood up, dad tinkering with it. My Sunday afternoons were usually spent working on trucks and driving my dad around backroads while he drank beer, and we’d listen to music together.” His dad introduced him to Steve Earl, John Fogerty, classic rock and 90’s country. “I like to credit my dad for my love of lyrics and my mom for my love of singing.”
Elvie says his father often treated him more like a peer. “He would take me out riding around with his friends, probably doing stuff that I shouldn’t have been doing. But I’m glad we did it because it gave me a colorful upbringing and a lot of stuff to write about and helped shape my personality.” He adds, “Mama gave me Jesus and Daddy gave me Jones.”
There came a time when Elvie hit a rough patch, and he blamed God for everything that had gone wrong. In an attempt to redeem himself, he thought the answer might be to follow in his older brother’s footsteps and heed the call to be a preacher. “I spent a couple years in ministry and grew really disappointed with what I was seeing within the church. There was turmoil, and I didn’t see as much love as I wanted to see.” Elvie questioned whether he had truly been called to ministry. “One day I remember I was on the pulpit preaching a sermon and a feeling came over me that ‘this ain’t what you’re supposed to be doing, and if it’s not what you’re supposed to be doing and you’re up here doing it, are you doing more harm than good?’” He closed his Bible — along with that chapter of his life — and walked out.
Elvie credits the woman who is now his wife for giving his life purpose. They met when he was at one of his lowest points. “Back then, I would rather spend my money to catch a buzz than buy food.” They struck up a conversation at a sports bar, but Elvie was convinced “there’s no way a girl like that is gonna go for a guy like me.” He was flunking college and playing guitar to make ends meet.
The next day, he went back to that sports bar and applied for a job there so he could get to know Mandy better. The manager told him, "If you cut your hair, I’ll give you a job.” Elvie went straight home, cut his hair himself, then returned to the sports bar an hour later. The manager said, “Hey man, I was just playing with you! I was going to call you tomorrow and give you the job.” Within four months, Elvie landed a promotion and the girl.
“She had this little boy, and I needed a reason, more of a purpose in life, and I thought maybe we could just make this a family.” They got married after dating for 11 months.
With a family to support, music took a back seat. “I spent 3 years not playing a single chord on the guitar; I got completely away from music.”
Then, in 2015, the musical stars began to align for Elvie when Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton performed a duet at the CMA Awards. “You had the king of pop music singing this pop countryish kind of song blended into this country music Jesus over here that represented everything that country music was and could be, and it came together in a powerful way that inspired me.” Right when that performance ended, Elvie’s phone rang. It was his musician friend Matt Cooper, who had been trying to persuade Elvie to go to Nashville to write songs. His friend asked, “You reckon it’s time for you to go to Nashville now?” The next Monday, Elvie got in the truck with Matt and drove down for his first co-write.
The next couple years were a juggling act as Elvie divided his time between Music City and Kentucky. Elvie realized, “Money is the biggest obstacle most musicians run into when they want to do this.” That’s why he will always be grateful for the support of a couple in Ohio who helped make it possible for him to follow his heart and chase his dreams.
Elvie had posted a picture of a Gibson L-OO guitar on his Facebook page, with the comment, “One Day #DreamGuitar.” Soon after that, the Ohio couple invited him over. “That night, they had me close my eyes. I heard the buckles snap on a guitar case and I immediately started crying. It was the exact guitar I posted a picture of.” The generous couple also offered financial support. “They gave me a check every month and said, ‘If that’s not enough, let us know. We want you to go to Nashville and focus on becoming what you want to be.’” That Gibson guitar is the one Elvie used when he co-wrote “My Boy” on the porch in Hendersonville.
Several years later, “Me and a co-writer hopped on the stage one night and played My Boy. My wife videoed it and we threw it up on Facebook.” The song went viral, and soon had 6 million views. Elvie says what happened next was “a perfect storm thing…God at work if you will.” The buzz generated by that video eventually led to his current record label deal.
My Boy was released on digital platforms including iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube earlier this summer, just in time for Fathers Day. But the radio tour — which would have required extensive travel — was nixed due to the pandemic. In an effort to find another way to promote My Boy to radio stations around the country, Elvie’s label and management teamed up with Grammy Award-winning producer Ron Fair to create a “virtual” radio tour where the band could play mini-concerts from a state-of-the-art studio in Nashville, with each radio station watching a private video performance online, followed by a Zoom conference call. The full band performance with studio-quality sound is a marked contrast to a typical radio tour where the artist is accompanied by someone on acoustic guitar. Elvie says, “We’ve been hearing from radio programmers that this is the best one they’ve seen, and we’re setting the bar for virtual radio tours. I’m just blessed and proud to be on the forefront of something so innovative.”
Hear the band perform My Boy and get a behind-the-scenes look at the virtual radio tour in the video below.
Elvie has connected with hundreds of radio programmers and music industry execs over the past six weeks as he and his band members have performed five shows each day from the studio. They’re hoping that the investment pays off. “The world is crazy right now, and there’s so much hate and anger and unrest. My goal is to focus on this song that is a message of love, and get it out there and distract people for three minutes at a time — hopefully several times a day on radio.”
Many of Elvie’s lyrics read like an autobiography; songwriting is a way for him to reflect on his past. “There’s so much about where I come from that I didn’t enjoy growing up. I wanted to get out so bad. I love my mom and dad and we always had food on the table and clothes on our backs, but we struggled from time to time. But aside from all that negativity, that place made me, and it also took me a long time to realize it, but it gave me all the good too.”
Elvie feels it is important to give back to his hometown. When it came time to shoot the music video and cover art for My Boy, the camera crew went to the baseball field where Elvie played Little League as a kid. Additionally, the high school choir from his alma mater sang background vocals on one of the songs he recorded for future release (County Roads). While he was back in Caneyville, Elvie got a call from the local sheriff, who thanked him for remembering his hometown. “He also gave me a free pass to raise hell in my car on my road that day for a video,” Elvie says with a grin.
Looking back over his life, Elvie confesses, “I’m probably not the best example of a Christian in a lot of ways,” but he says he feels closer to God than ever before. “I don’t know what the future holds for me, or how I’ll be able to witness to people or affect people in that way.” Elvie may have gotten his answer from a radio Program Director who heard him sing My Boy and told him, “Remember, God chose YOU as the vessel to deliver that message.”
Humbled by the comment, Elvie concludes, “Hopefully I made the right choice that day when I walked out at church, and this is part of Him using me in a way that He sees fit.”
FUN FACTS AND TRIVIA
Elvie was named after his great-grandfather and a family friend (Herman Shane), who loaned Elvie’s dad $500 to buy his first vehicle.
Elvie named one of his guitars “Danielle” (his wife’s middle name), so “she could always be on the road with me.”
Concert: Tedeschi Trucks Band (at the Ryman)
Place to run: around Music Row (he’s logged nearly 300 miles so far this year)