I recently ran across soul singer Shaun Munday and his stirring “Remember My Name.”
The song is somewhat prophetic: I predict that very, very soon, the world won’t be able to forget his name.
The Springfield, Missouri native strums the strings and sings about as easily as most of us breathe. His powerful bass and guttural vocals are a combination that sticks with you.
During our recent conversation, Munday told me that, shockingly, there was actually a time when he didn’t think of himself as a singer.
“My parents put a little four string guitar, a ukulele, in my hands really before I could walk,” Munday said during our EXCLUSIVE chat. “I’ve got pictures of myself as a toddler, holding this little Mickey Mouse guitar, so that’s where it all started. My mother, father, and my younger brother are all musicians and singers. It was a house full of music and instruments, so that aspect of what I do was natural. I had no say into that — I was kinda born into it.”
Munday said he spent the better part of a decade before he put that little ukulele down, picked up a guitar and began nourishing his gift. But he was in high school before the Shaun Munday who we know today stepped into the spotlight.
“I signed up to do a talent show in high school. I was probably 16 or 17 years old,” Munday remembered. “I got up there and played, and everybody went crazy for it. Standing ovation from everybody. Everybody went nuts. Even the teachers started being nicer to me!”
“And everyone was saying ‘That’s the music guy’ when they saw me. That was the first public appearance after which I said ‘This could be something.’ “
That “something” has grown into a world class artist who’s graduated from the Berklee School of Music, where he studied and performed with artists like John Mayer and Esperanza Spalding.
One of his instructors, Jetro De Silva, was Whitney Houston’s keyboard player. He played a critical role in the emergence of Shaun Munday, who had been influenced early on by soul legends like Donny Hathaway, Al Green, and Marvin Gaye.
“I had a class with Jetro in college in which you had to sing to pass the class. I couldn’t just sit there and play the bass and be a cool guy. I had to sing some songs,” Munday remembered. “And they picked the songs and the artists that I had to study. Otis Redding was one of the artists that I had to familiarize myself with. So now I’m this guy who never had any intention of singing, and certainly didn’t have any intention of singing classic, perfect soul songs by these perfect artists.”
“After learning and performing those songs, Jetro told me he was pleased with my performances, and he told me to keep singing,” Munday continued. “He was very encouraging about what I did. After getting an ‘OK’ from the keyboard player for one of the greatest vocalists of all time, I figured I should be ok.”
Today, Munday is far from “ok,” having shared the stage with greats like Andra Day, Corinne Bailey Rae, Robert Cray, Collin Raye, and the daughter of an artist who had influenced his style early on. I asked what it was like to take the stage with the incomparable Lalah Hathaway.
“A goal of mine when I started this whole solo career was to work with Lalah in some capacity,” Munday shared. “I’d been listening to her vocals and her music before Donny. She’s got her own thing and is a fantastic jazz, R & B, and soul vocalist. She had a big video that went viral a few years ago, where she was singing two notes at the same time! Just to be with a musician of that caliber is an incredible thing, but to also realize that you are next to an incredible lineage…the whole experience was just beautiful, in every way.”
In addition to Munday’s 2017 debut full length solo project, which is also “beautiful in every way,” fans of great music can look forward to his next album. He hopes to release it by the end of the year.
“I’ve been working on it pretty much since the first one came out,” Munday confided. “I’ll be expanding on some of the ideas and concepts on the first album, which was pretty much all electric bass and vocals. This one will have more conventional instrumentation: drums, keys, guitars and everything.”
Yes, lest you wonder: Munday plays all of those instruments, too.
So now you get where I’m coming from: we WILL remember Shaun Munday’s name!
Michael P Coleman is a Sacramento based freelance writer who has his eye on the Pulitzer Prize. Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or follow his blog, his IG and his Twitter.
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