Get to know the late Jackie Shane ahead of her historical marker unveiling
Nashville Queer History, in partnership with Jackie Shane’s family, raised funds to see that the Nashville native and rhythm and blues singer’s marker is made and placed in North Nashville by the first half of 2024.
Nashville native Jackie Shane was a trailblazer for the R&B and soul genres. Now, five years following her death, she’ll become the first transgender person to receive a Nashville historical marker — which should be placed in North Nashville by the first half of 2024.
Early life and career highs
Jackie Shane was born in Music City on May 15, 1940 during the time of the Jim Crow South. She began performing as a drummer and vocalist locally in the 1950s, becoming a member of Excello Records’ studio band and in the house band at a nightspot called the New Era. She even joined the Cetlin & Wilson carnival’s tent show band.
By the late 1950s, after her travels to the area through the carnival, Shane moved to Canada to live more freely. For a decade, she filled Toronto’s nightclubs. It was in Montreal that she teamed up with trumpeter Frank Motley who helped her cut a cover of William Bell’s “Any Other Way.” The song landed the No. 2 spot on the Canadian singles chart in 1963. Shane traveled back to the states throughout her career high, even appearing on the Nashville TV show “Night Train.”
Legacy left behind
Shane returned to the US quietly at the beginning of the 70s to care for her mother in Los Angeles and later back to Nashville. For over four decades, the artist mostly kept to herself. In fact, NPR reports that she was known to blow a whistle into the receiver when unsolicited calls would come through.
Of course, fans were still eager to get their hands on her singles, which cost hundreds of dollars if you could find them online. In 2017, Numero Group released Shane’s anthology, which was nominated for “Best Historical Album” at the 2019 Grammy Awards.