Newcomer Elvie Shane has a top five hit on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart with his debut single, “My Boy,” which centers on Shane’s experiences becoming a stepfather. The tender track, with the gut-punch lyric, “He’s my son and that’s my choice/ He ain’t my blood but he’s my boy,” has become one of the most impactful songs on the topic since Brad Paisley’s “He Didn’t Have to Be” went to No. 1 on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart in 1999.
“My Boy” has had quite the journey since Shane wrote it five years ago with Nick Columbia, Lee Starr and Russell Sutton. The song first went viral on Facebook, leading Shane to his major label deal with BBR Music Group’s Wheelhouse Records in 2019. Then, last year, “My Boy” was revived via TikTok, thanks to users who began incorporating the song into videos celebrating the relationship between stepparents and stepchildren. Soon after, the song was sent to country radio and began working its way up the country charts.
On Oct. 29, Shane will follow up on his hit song with the release of his debut album Backslider. He is also opening shows for Brooks & Dunn’s Reboot Tour. For Billboard‘s Rookie of the Month series, Shane discussed the music on his upcoming album, his musical inspirations and more.
What has it been like watching “My Boy” go up the charts?
I was worried about putting it out at first because it shows the best side of me, which isn’t a great representation of who I am all the way around. I wanted people to maybe know the other side of me first, the rowdier side. But when it started connecting, I realized it is such a part of who I am. Even though I do make mistakes and do dumb stuff sometimes, or may be a little rough around the edges, at my core there is a lot of love that I was taught in my family.
What was it like making this album during the pandemic?
I came into this [record] deal thinking I had a whole album and that I was ready to go into the studio as soon as I signed. They sat me down soon after and said, “We feel like you’ve only got one song.” At first, I felt like, “I think you guys are full of crap, I’ve got a lot more than one song” — but credit to them, they were right. What I had was a collection of songs and I worked hard to write those songs, but what I have now is a record, a cohesive project. I like to say this is my biography in the form of music. It starts with “I Will Run,” which has a line that helped shape the rest of the record: ‘These days it’s who I’m running to/ Not who I’m running from.” Originally, that line was about my wife, but these songs they grow in their meaning to me. It’s become my wife, my art, my faith at times.
How did Tenille Townes come to be on “Nothin’ Lasts Forever” from your new album?
With this song, I felt like she would sound incredible. I got her number and reached out about her being on the track and she was so kind and she brought this Stevie Nicks kind of flair to it. And I love the paradoxical nature of a love song called “Nothin’ Lasts Forever.”
Your mom joins you on “Miles,” and it’s a pretty stark look at the toll being on the road takes on families.
That song is very open and it is 100% true. It started as a tribute to my dad and ended up calling him out on some of his BS as a father for not always being there, since he was a truck driver. But as I got to the end, I realized I’m doing the same thing out here on the road and being away from my family, but doing the only thing I know how to do to provide. That was a very therapeutic song to write.
What’s the first CD you bought?
Well, I stole it from my dad. He asked where it was several times and I never told him. It was the Guitar Town record by Steve Earle that I had listened to with him on the road in his semi-truck a million times. That was my first CD I ever had.
What’s the most recent song or album you listened to?
This Silk Sonic project with Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars are doing. That stuff is incredible, the way it sounds so classic and old but still so fresh at the same time. I couldn’t pull it off, I would look silly trying to sing “Leave the Door Open,” but I’m sure glad they are doing it.
If you were not making music, what would you be doing professionally?
I would probably be driving a truck. I grew up in the passenger seat of one. My little brother just bought a semi-truck and trailer and my dad drives for him. There’s just something about being on the road that’s felt like home to me. And you’ll notice in these songs there are a lot references to being on the road. It’s been a good friend –and an arch nemesis at times. I’d be in a 379 Peterbilt somewhere. Truckers are still the heartbeat of America and if every trucker shut down one day it would be pretty bad for all of us. I used to hear about those people in country music more, and it’s time for them to have a little spotlight again.
What’s still on your career bucket list?
After this year, I don’t even know. This has been such an incredible year. Maybe playing an awards show or doing a duet with an artist that I love. I would love to do a show with one of my heroes, like John Fogerty or Steve Earle.
What does your son think of “My Boy”?
We wrote it when he was 10 and he’s never been a really sappy kind of kid. Now he’s 15 so all he’s worried about is looking cool at school. But he’s definitely seen what this song has done for our family. This song has been a glue between me and him and our relationship, and him understanding why I’m in his life–or at least my intentions coming into his life. He did ask me the other day that if the song goes No. 1, if I would buy him a Nissan 350Z, so evidently he thinks it comes along with a lot of money.