the last time jackie shane graced a stage was in toronto, canada in december 1971. after decades of swirling rumors that she had been murdered, miss shane reemerge in late 2017 with her grammy nominated “any other way”, a comprehensive double album of her musical catalog.
jackie shane’s story began on may 15, 1940 in nashville, tennessee. even from the tender age of 4, it wasn’t unusual for jackie to dress up in her mother’s dresses, heels, and jewelry. in a 2017 interview with rob bowman for the “any other way” album, jackie shared that her mother would come to walk into her bedroom and find little jackie sitting at her mother’s vanity table wearing lipstick and rouge. ”mom would crack up,” said jackie.
by age eight, jackie’s passion for music was ignited after experiencing the live gospel sounds of tambourines, singers, and drummers at a friend’s house. months later, it was the sound of her voice that garnered attention from the church her mother frequented. jackie was asked to join the adult choir. an adolescent jackie agreed but under one condition – “mom, i will sing but i will not listen to the minister and i’m not giving him my allowance. this shyster.”
jackie continued to come into her own as a trans woman under her own conditions. her mother was there to provide both support and guidance. “you have nothing to cry about or be shamed of or anything. you’re magnificent,” her mother told her at age 13.
after a stint of performing in a band as part of a traveling carnival and after surviving being kidnapped by mobsters, jackie released her first single, a cover of barrett strong’s “money (that’s what i want)” in 1962. she would go on to perform alongside etta james, jam out with jimi hendrix, and even fix up little richard’s wigs.
in 1964, jackie appeared on “night train,” a regional show in nashville, to perform “walking the dog.” that performance was followed by an invitation to perform on “the ed sullivan show.” exposure on the show was said to almost guarantee superstardom but jackie declined the offer when she notified that she would have to present as male.
jackie’s most notable hit was “any other way.” originally released in 1962, the song was re-issued five years later and became an enduring regional hit in toronto, canada. subsequent singles followed and cemented her as a soul music legend in toronto.
after over a decade of performing across the country and throughout canada, and even receiving an offer to join george clinton’s band funkadelic, miss jackie shane walked away from the industry in december 1971.
jackie was out of sight but her legacy was not out of mind. in 2016, a 22-story mural commissioned by heritage toronto commemorating music icons including waters, bb king, gordon lightfoot, to name a few. and right in the center of the glorious mural is jackie shane.
in 2017, after 46 years in seclusion, miss jackie shane reemerged with the release of “any other way”, a comprehensive double album featuring all of her music. the album marked the first official jackie shane release since 1969. in 2019, the album was nominated for a grammy in the best historical recording category. when asked about the unearthing of her legacy, miss shane said, “i thought i would be forgotten. but i haven’t been. it goes to show i didn’t do it vain….that’s a beautiful thing.”
the legendary and pioneering jackie shane died in her sleep, at her home in nashville, on february 21, 2019. in celebration of her legacy, a 22-story mural by heritage toronto commemorating music icons muddy waters, bb king, gordon lightfoot, to name a few. and right in the center of the glorious mural is the incomparable jackie shane.