It’s been a busy time for Shane Yellowbird.
In October alone, the Cree country singer-songwriter, who grew up in the Indian community of Hobbema, south of Edmonton, performed at the 11th annual Native American Music Awards at the Seneca Entertainment Centre in the Seneca Casino & Hotel in Niagara Falls, New York, backed by the legendary Eagle and Hawk Band.
He returned to that stage a short time later to receive the Country Recording of the Year Award for his debut album, Life is Calling My Name.
Less than two weeks later, he was releasing his sophomore album, It’s About Time, described as “an exciting new collection of tunes, true to the calibre of music that Yellowbird fans have come to appreciate. Two years in the making and a true labour of love, this new album explores a new side of this talented artist not yet seen.”
In just a few short years, Yellowbird has gone from quietly pursuing a fine arts degree at Red Deer College to becoming a budding country music star, with a hot selling record, major awards and nominations, and two Top 10 radio hits and videos to his credit.
After less than five years on country music radar, Yellowbird can boast an amazing list of achievements and awards, including number one songs, albums and videos.
He won three consecutive Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards for Best Music Video: “Beautiful Concept” (2006), “Pickup Truck” (2007), “I Remember the Music” (2008).
In September 2007, he was recipient of the prestigious “Chevy Rising Star Award” at the Canadian Country Music Association Award Show, which included a $50,000 pickup truck, a suitable recognition of his “Pickup Truck” hit song.
Two months later, after performing at the 2007 Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards, he won the Aboriginal Entertainer of the Year Award, as well as Best Country cd and Best Music Video for “Pickup Truck.”
A month after that, Yellowbird struck again as the big winner at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards as Best Male Artist, as well as Best Country Album and Best Album of the Year for “Life is Calling My Name.”
Among his memorable appearances over the past year are nationally televised performances on Canada Day from Parliament Hill in Ottawa, at the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards and the Canadian Country Music Awards, as well as appearing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
Growing up in Hobbema, Yellowbird was a typical cowboy. His parents participated in the rodeo circuit and their son learned early on to rope and ride, fully embracing the cowboy lifestyle and accepting that it would one day be his future.
A strange twist of circumstances, however, put Yellowbird on the country music path. Born with a severe stuttering problem, he began seeing a speech therapist who suggested that he sing his sentences to help him speak clearly. The technique proved successful and also instilled a budding love of music in Yellowbird.
After entering several singing contests and winning, it seemed life was calling the young cowboy to fulfill another dream, that of a country music artist.
Spotted by O’Reilly International, Yellowbird signed on with the management company who had directed the successful careers of Brad Johner and Patricia Conroy.
“We knew Shane could sing and song write. But when we talked to him about his speech impediment and realized what he had overcome to get this far, we knew he had the drive and determination you need in this industry,” says Louis O’Reilly president of the company.
“Life is Calling My Name” features radio-friendly tracks in the traditions of George Strait or Garth Brooks and showcases Yellowbird’s amazing voice.
Yellowbird chose each track on his album much as he does everything in life – with thoughtful care.
“There’s no break up songs or unhappy songs,” Yellowbird says. “The whole album is positive. It’s about having fun, being in love. I wanted the first album to be positive.”
Close to his heart, the album’s title track “Life is Calling My Name” talks about the freedom to just be oneself.
“This song really hits home for me,” explains Yellowbird. “Life is before you, leave your problems behind.”
He adds, artists like Mel Tillis – known for his noticeable stutter – serve as a role model.
“(Tillis’s stutter) was part of who he was,” says Yellowbird. “And people liked that about him. It made him unique and didn’t stop him from having a successful music career.”
Yellowbird hopes to inspire others to pursue their dreams. Wherever you come from, whatever obstacles you face, your dreams can come true – something Yellowbird knows firsthand.
Yellowbird is proud of his country roots and still breaks horses and competes in calf-roping whenever he can. But given the exceptional early fan response to his songs, Yellowbird’s future seems destined to deliver more outstanding country music.