• Jam Session alerts

Whitney Shay's album release party for Soul Tonic happens Monday, September 24, in the Celestial Ballroom at the U.S. Grant Hotel.

"It is a CD AND digital release," Shay says of the album, which is available on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, etc. "It's my debut record. If I had to pick a sound and style it most fits, I'd say 1960s R&B and soul...I couldn't be more excited about this album. It was worth the wait to create a debut record that I truly believe in. With the help and guidance of Archie Thompson, I feel we captured my personality and diversity as an artist. I hope my fans are as elated as I am.”

Soul Tonic was mostly recorded at Thompson’s home Stat Records studio and mastered by Alex McCollough at Yes Master, in Nashville. Its twelve tracks (several written by Thompson) include a cover of "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)" by Isaac Hayes and David Porter and the Etta James classic "Can't Shake It." Guest players include jazz great Holly Hofmann on flute, trumpeter Mitch Manker (Ray Charles Orchestra), Mike Thompson (Rod Stewart, Eagles), and internationally renowned San Diego blues guitarist Nathan James.

Says Thompson, “I was intrigued by Whitney's voice after our first telephone conversation. After hearing her sing live, I knew I had to get her into the studio. When she sings, you feel it. The girl has soul.” Shay already has over 40 gigs booked for September and October, in order to properly promote the release.

"So far, the album has been played on the radio in Kansas City, the UK, Australia, and the Netherlands," says Shay of the full-length, whose title comes from one of the tracks written by Thompson.


"The album was created to show the diverse types of music I do and love, from jazz to blues, to old school R&B and soul. It features half covers, some lesser known and more obscure, and half originals, all written by Archie Thompson except 'Game Called Love,' which was co-written by myself and Archie."

For the release party, Shay's band will be comprised of: Whitney Shay on vocals, Archie Thompson on organ/tenor sax, Ed Kornhauser on piano, Nathan James on guitar, Troy Jennings on bari sax, Jason Littlefield on bass, Brian 'Nucci' Cantrell on drums, and background vocals provided by The Shaylettes' Miriam Dance-Leavy and Annette DaBOMB.

Says Shay, "The band will be playing tracks from the album, as well as smokin' soul, R&B, and blues tunes."

Shay grew up near Alpine, where her family raised horses, before the whole clan packed up and moved to to the Japatul Valley near Jamul. It was there that she started singing in local variety shows, specializing in old time vocal numbers from the jazz, soul, big band, and pop songbooks. She went on to front a big band ensemble, as well as performing with local lights such as Billy Watson and Robin Henkel.

Asked to describe her favorite gig, she says "Off the top of my head. it's a tossup between last New Years Eve's at the U.S. Grant Hotel with my jazz quartet, this year's Mossy Volkswagen Blues fest with my blues band the Shakedowns, or the Bessie Smith Tribute show I did at 98 Bottles a few months ago. All had amazing energy from the audience and the band. I'm very lucky to be able to play music night after night with such fantastic musicians." Shay also fronts a big band ensemble, The JazzKats Project

As for her worst gig, "When I first started I was singing at a new bar, there were several long nights where no one came in and we ended up using the time as a rehearsal. At least the bartenders enjoyed the music, though."

  • Jam Session alerts


Sign in to comment

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader