About a year ago, Elvie Shane was a fairly unknown artist in Nashville who was trying to make an initial impact in country music. He knew he had co-written a special song called “My Boy,” but it was just being released and few people had heard it yet. But over the past year more people heard “My Boy,” and they started to realize what a powerful song (about being a father) it was and how it resonated with them. People have also discovered that Shane is a talented singer/songwriter who has a strong, soulful voice.
Currently, “My Boy” has become Shane’s first hit. The ballad single is moving up steadily on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts. The success of “My Boy” (which was co-written by Nick Columbia, Lee Starr & Russell Sutton) has established Shane as a promising artist to watch, and he’s moving up fast on Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart.
What makes “My Boy” special is its unique and heartfelt lyric theme. The song is about a man who has become the stepfather to a young boy, and he loves the boy as much as any biological father could. The key lyrics in the chorus are: “He ain’t my blood, ain’t got my name, But if he did I’d feel the same. I wasn’t there for his first steps, But I ain’t missed a ballgame yet. And that ain’t ever gonna change, I could never walk away. Yeah, he’s my son and that’s my choice, He ain’t my blood but he’s my boy.” This song was inspired by Shane’s actual relationship with his stepson.
In addition to “My Boy,” Shane has recently released his debut 6-song EP, called County Roads. He co-wrote all the songs for this EP, and it displays a wide range of music, including three uptempo, high-energy country-rock songs. The title song “County Roads” sounds like it could be a single, and there’s a strong song called “Sundays In the South,” where Shane reflects on his early years growing up in the South.
Shane was born in the small town of Caneyville, Kentucky, where he learned to play guitar early on, and he grew up in close-knit family that went to church every Sunday. When he was a teenager, he started to write songs, and he continued to develop his songwriting and play in a band during college.
Here’s the video of Elvie Shane’s hit, “My Boy.”
After college, Shane got married and his life took a different path for a few years, where he took a break from music. But then the opportunity arose for him to play music again, and this eventually led to him moving to Nashville and pursuing his music career full-time. It was about five years ago that he co-wrote “My Boy,” which gave him a special song that impressed music execs in Nashville. He subsequently signed a label deal with the BBR Music Group (Wheelhouse Records).
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Elvie Shane. He tells how he got started in the music business, and how he co-wrote his hit, “My Boy.” He also discusses his debut EP.
DK: I read you grew up in a small town called Caneyville in Kentucky. How did you get started with music and writing songs?
Elvie Shane: My mom likes to say I was born on a Sunday, and the following Sunday she held me tight with a hymnal in church, So I guess I was introduced to music the first week I was born. I would ride around with my mom in her car and we listened to ‘90s country, and we’d go to church and sing hymns. Then I’d come home and dad would be drinking some cold ones, and listening to Steve Earle and John Fogerty. He would be wrenching on old cars and trucks, I’d usually be out there wrenching with him. And so I got a good balance of rock & roll and Jesus in early years. It was hard times but it was good times to look back on.
DK: When did you start playing guitar and trying to become an artist?
Shane: When I was 12, I worked one summer hauling hay and I saved up to buy a Fender flat-top acoustic guitar from my aunt. On Saturdays back then, I would go over to my great-grandmother’s house, and my granny was pretty musical. She showed me my first three chords on guitar, and handed me a Roger Miller greatest hits CD. She said, “With those three chords, you can play just about any song he’s got.” So I started playing guitar and learned those Roger Miller songs.
DK: How did you go from being a teenager playing Roger Miller songs, to becoming an artist and eventually writing your song, “My Boy”?
Here’s the video of Elvie Shane’s song, “County Roads.”
Shane: Well I started playing guitar, and I was singing at a revival one night. A guy came up to me and said, “Hey, the lead singer of our rock band just quit and we’ve got a show next weekend. Would you be interested in singing in our band?” And I said, “Of course.” So I started playing in that band and we went through all kinds of phases. Then I ended up in college, where I started playing bars and I put together a group with a couple buddies, and started writing songs. I started writing a lot in college and I grew to love the writing process—writing by myself, and with other people. Then I met my wife, [and it was a time when] my music life had led me down a bit of a rockier road, with partying and drinking. So I hung up my guitar for three years.
Then later on, my wife’s friends started a band we’d go and watch them. One night, I pulled out the guitar one night after a show. I sang this Chris Stapleton song and they were like, “You sing?” And I said, “Yeah.” So they had me open up for them in bars and casinos. Then a buddy of mine who was in that band, said he was going to Nashville every week to write with people, and he tried to talk me into it.
At the time in country music, it seemed that everything sounded very similar. I wasn’t resonating with a lot of it, and I didn’t feel like it was my time to be down there. Then one night, Chris Stapleton was onstage at the CMA Awards with Justin Timberlake, and they give this awe-inspiring performance. It was this blend of a country music Jesus and the current King of Pop on the stage together. And I was thinking, “Man, if you could have those two guys on one stage on the country music platform, come together and do something that awesome, maybe there is a spot for me. And about the time I’m thinking that, my phone rings. It’s the buddy of mine that’s been going down to Nashville. He says, “Well, you reckon it’s time for you to go down to Nashville now? And I said, “Yeah, maybe some doors are opening.” Then I went down the following Monday and started co-writing, and I ended up writing “My Boy” about six months into that. Then two years after that I landed a publishing deal, and two years after that I got my record deal.
DK: I really like “My Boy;” it has a unique lyric concept and fresh way of looking at being a father. Did you co-write this song about your own stepson, and can you tell the story behind that song?
Here’s the video of Elvie Shane’s song, “Sundays In The South.”
Shane: I met my wife, Mandi, about nine years ago. She had a 5-year-old little boy at the time. Then about a year later we got married and I became a stepfather. And a friend’s mom sent me a Facebook post the night before we wrote “My Boy.” It just said, “I don’t have a stepson—I have a son that was born before I met him.” That really resonated with me, being in the position I was in. And I thought…Man, there’s gotta be something there.
The next night, I was supposed to write with (songwriters) Nick Columbia and Russell Sutton. The house we were staying in Hendersonville (north of Nashville) was like a revolving door of new songwriters in town. And there was another guy who was new to town named Lee Starr and he was leaving, but we convinced him to stick around and noodle on guitar for a minute, while we had some cold ones. We wanted to hang out with him and try to trick him into writing a song. Then I brought up that Facebook post, and Nick Columbia looked at me and said, “Well Man, tell me about your son.” And I said, “Well dude, he’s my boy.” Then he said, “Why don’t we just write that.”
You know as a songwriter, you never really get to sit down that day and say, “Hey, I’m gonna write something today that’s gonna work.” And you never sit down and say, “Hey I’m gonna write something that’s gonna impact millions of people, that millions of people are going to hear one day.” So for that reason, when we finished that song, we felt a rollercoaster of emotions. There were laughs, there were tears. We all agreed that it felt like more of a gift than something we did. So we always called it a God Song for that reason. That song’s been a huge driving force for my career, my co-writers’ careers, my family. It’s been a huge blessing for me, and now I’m getting to see how it’s been resonating with many other people.
DK: You released “My Boy” last June, which was right in the middle of the pandemic. And yet, the song has steadily grown in popularity and it’s moving up the charts. So what’s it been like for you, to see “My Boy” become a hit?
Shane: I was always a little leery about releasing “My Boy” as my first single—it was this tender ballad and I had others songs that were more gritty and rockin’. But kudos to (music exec) Jon Loba at Broken Bow Records, and my management team. They were adamant about putting “My Boy” out first. Then the pandemic hit, and we were all sitting at home together. We’re all locked up in our homes with our families. I was thinking about it, and I was like…You know what? What better time in the world to put a song out about family and love, when we’re all cooped up in the house together? So we put it out around Father’s Day and it just took off. We hit radio, and it was the second most added song behind Miranda Lambert that day. I’ve been blessed…[the success of “My Boy”] has provided a way to make a living doing what I love.
Here’s the video of Elvie Shane’s song, “Keep On Strummin’.”
I’m excited now—we’ve got a little baby girl on the way, and we bought a house in Kentucky. It’s been one blessing after another since that song came out.
DK: I listened to the songs on your new EP County Roads, and I was impressed that it has several rockin’ uptempo songs, that are different from “My Boy.” Can you talk about the other songs on your EP? Which ones are your favorites?
Shane: Well, I like all of them pretty good. If I was only going to talk about a couple, I’d have to say “County Roads,” which needs a shout out. When I came into my record deal with “My Boy,” I thought I had other songs. But they signed me for that one song, and right after I put my name on paper, they sat me down. They said, “Elvie, we feel that you’ve only got one song.” And I thought, “You’re all full of shit; I ‘ve got a lot more songs” (laughs). But they were right, and instead of getting pissed off, I walked out of that meeting and I felt I had this huge opportunity to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to tell my story the way I wanted to, and make it sound the way I wanted.
I had a clean slate and I ended up in a room with Oscar Charles, a young up-and-coming songwriter & producer, and (songwriter) Dan Couch who’s written a lot of great songs with Kip Moore. Then Oscar grabs a guitar and starts fiddling with all his gadgets, and he comes up with this cool sound. We kicked ideas around all day and finally we said, “Why don’t we just tell the truth? You know, I’ve got a public education but it didn’t come from class. It came from the long rides home on the bus in the back.“ So we went with that, and it sparked this whole idea of how honest we can be with these songs and how much of an inside view we can give to listeners about how I grew up, where I came from, and those coming-of-age years and moments that we all share. So “County Roads” was the first song that helped me to discover what my sound was and how I wanted to put my stories out there in the world.
Besides “My Boy” and “County Roads,” if there’s one song on this EP that sums up what made me who I am today, it’s “Sundays In the South.” I feel that song captures Kentucky to me, and it sounds like how it felt growing up in Kentucky. It’s just honest, man. It’s where I found my salvation and foundation. I feel that the way “Sunday In The South” sounds, and those stories in that song, is just me in a nutshell.