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4/30 Shawn James and the Shapeshifters

April 27, 2015

Shawn James brings extreme passion to his music. You feel it in the imaginative, highly nuanced songwriting and see it in the powerful live shows where there’s never the slightest hesitation and nothing is held back. And, most importantly, you can hear it resonate in Shawn’s most powerful instrument: the unique, soulful voice that sounds like it is literally being torn out of his heart…and it is something you won’t soon forget

Born on the south side of Chicago in 1986, singer, songwriter and multi instrumentalist, Shawn James had a kind, hardworking Mother and a gambling, drunk and often abusive Father. His conflicted home life can still be heard in his music which can be full of contrasts — dark and light, anger and joy, earthy and aiarborne – while remaining gritty and real. Singing in church growing up, he was drawn to the emotional, ethereal power of music and its ability to affect people. It was there that he found his escape and learned how to harness his unique, soulful voice.

After playing in bands since the age of sixteen, Shawn moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas in January 2012. Attracted to the beauty of the natural state and even more impressed by Fayetteville’s diverse and thriving music scene, he began performing every chance he got. The singer, songwriter – who also plays guitar, piano and numerous other instruments — literally turned himself into a one man band. Regardless of where he was playing — on the street, in a bar or at a house party – Shawn’s intensity, inimitable voice and hard-driving folk/soul/blues hybrid made for a performance you wouldn’t soon forget.

By August of 2012, Shawn James had recorded and released his first full-length album, SHADOWS. A local videographer, Anna Hutchison, made music videos for the songs Midnight Dove and The Shadow while another song from SHADOWS, The Wanderer, was used in a Harley-Davidson commercial.

Around this time, friends introduced Shawn to musicians Chris Overcash (violin, viola) and Baker (mandolin, tenor banjo) who were soon asked to join the band, which took on the name Shawn James & The Shapeshifters. “One of the reasons I came up with the name ‘Shapeshifters” is because musicians have a tendency to come and go,” James explains. “It also ties in perfectly with the theme of the trilogy EP’s coming out this year, plus I’ve always been interested in mythology and folklore, so the name stuck.” After embarking on a two week tour of Colorado, the band released a live video showing them performing a cover of John Legend’s Who Did That To You which went viral, garnering an impressive 400,000 plus views on numerous sites.

With the addition of Nick Shoulders (banjo, harmonica), Phillip Farris (bass) and Nick Futch (drums), Shawn James & The Shapeshifters is now undeniably a full band. “I can do so much more musically with the band,” says James, who continues to write all of the music. “We all love to play and our combined energy adds a new dimension to the performance.” The Shapeshifters first recording as a band was THE WOLF (February 2013), the first release from an ambitious trilogy of connected concept EPs — THE WOLF, THE BEAR and THE HAWK

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