Hailing from the Cree Nation of Hobbema, Alberta, Shane Yellowbird was born in 1979 and grew up embracing traditional country music and the overall cowboy lifestyle. His father participated in the local area rodeo circuit, and he too got involved in roping and riding at an early age.
His foray into music came quite by accident. Although he was already a student of the guitar, it was his stuttering the recommendation of a speech therapist to cure his stuttering that led him to take singing lessons. As a teen, he entered and won several talent contests, then played the area’s taverns and developed his own style while pursuing a Fine Arts degree in Calgary.
He signed a deal with independent label 306 Records in 2005, and a few months in Nashville led to producer Bart McKay coming on board, and his debut album was in the stores that October. LIFE IS CALLING MY NAME landed him six singles over the next year. “Beautiful Concept” had cracked the top 10 prior to the album’s release, and that November he was at the podium at the Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards (APCMA), accepting the awards for single and video of the year, as well as for Best New Artist.
Getting good airplay over the next year and a half, particularly out west, “They’re All About You,” the #5 single “Pickup Truck” (also one of the 10 mot played country songs in Canada in 2007), “Drive Me Home,” and the top 10 “I Remember The Music” and title track all helped make him one of the hottest commodities in the country. All but “Drive Me Home” had a video that got good airplay, and “Pickup Truck” even made CMT’s annual list of top 10 of the year.
After doing several shows on his own throughout the prairies, he found himself playing opening for Emerson Drive on their cross-Canada tour. He continued to tour throughout Canada and in the US for the next couple of years, while picking up seemingly every award that was offered at the APCMAs, as well as the Rising Star of the Year at the ’07 Canadian Country Music Awards. He wa also the winner of three Canadian Aboriginal Music awards in ’07 and one award at the Native American Music Awards (stationed in the US), and was nominated for Country Album of the Year at the 2008 Juno Awards.
After 306 Records became On Ramp, he teamed up with producer Jason Barry for his sophomore album, 2009’s IT’S ABOUT TIME. Two full years in the making, and like its predecessor, the album was predominantly written by outsiders and recorded in Nashville. Unlike the previous album however, it was released Stateside. Five singles were produced – “Bare Feet on the Blacktop,” “Watching You Walk Away” and “I Can Help You with That,” which all had accompanying videos, as well as “I Get That a Lot These Days” and “Sedona Arizona.”
The album’s release coincided with Yellowbird’s debut on the hallowed stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Over the next few years, he continued to tour both sides of the border, with the likes of Willie Mack, Paul Brandt, George Canyon, Emerson Drive, and Corb Lund, among others.