On August 30 (2018) Shaye Zadravec, a 25-year-old musician from Calgary, released a black and white video of her studio performance of a song called “Lilac Wine”. The song, written in 1950 by James Shelton, had been recorded by many, including Nina Simone (1954), Elkie Brooks (1981), Jeff Buckley (1994), and Jeff Beck (2010). The video for this beautiful song resonated with people around the world. Tens of thousands of people reacted to the simplicity of the video presentation, and the beauty of Shaye’s honest and understated vocal performance.
Shaye is a singer, a sometimes songwriter, but a full-time singer, and an exceptional one – a throwback to the era when great singers lent their voices to the best material and built their careers on the backs of these great songs. To see and hear Shaye Zadravec in concert is (as one noted radio personality commented) “like listening to the greatest radio show you ever heard”. Her repertoire is familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, including songs written by Bobby Darin, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Lynn Miles, Willie Dixon, Shelby Lynne, Gus Kahn, Chip Taylor and Doc Pomus, just to name a few. She sings with an ease and comfort that washes over the listener…. so subtle, so graceful – no big notes, no overwrought star search theatrics, just pure, unaffected performance beauty.
Shaye Zadravec’s EP “Norway”, was released in September 2018, with contributions and support from notables including Hall of Fame songwriter Chip Taylor, Norwegian producer/musician Goran Grini, and the who’s who of her local scene. It was recorded partly in Calgary and partly in Skien, Norway. Although Shaye has been gaining notoriety in the Calgary music scene for the past few years, the success of “Lilac Wine”, and “Dear Elvis”, (another video performance for a song from the EP) has thrust her into the national and international spotlight.
In November 2019, Shaye entered the studio with Hall of Fame Songwriter Ian Tyson, and together they recorded a song, from Tyson’s catalogue, called Silver Bell. The song is a Christmas song, but more so a rodeo song with a Christmas twist. It is not that far removed from Tyson’s classic rodeo song “Someday Soon”.
January of 2020 found Zadravec holed up in OCL Studios (just east of Calgary) with a band comprised of Western Canada’s top musicians. Russell Broom – guitars (Jann Arden). Mike Lent – bass (Jann Arden, kd lang), Tim Leacock – guitars (Beautiful Joe, The Burners), and Chris “the wrist” Nordquist – drums (Colin Linden, Colin James). Adding to the mix, Goran Grini was brought in from Norway to play keyboards and produce the sessions. Shaye was introduced to Grini through their mutual friend, Hall of Fame Songwriter”, Chip Taylor.
The 5-day sessions delivered 8 songs…. songs by Jesse Winchester, Lynn Miles, Paul Westerberg, Pat McLaughlin, Joan Besen, Ian Tyson, Roy Forbes and Jay Farrar made the cut and have provided Shaye with a sophomore album of substantial beauty. A record both fragile and muscular.. rich in textures. A brilliant collection of material sung by one of the purest voices of this generation.