Shawn James’ Smouldering “Ain’t No Sunshine” Will Send Shivers Up Your Spine

R&B legend Bill Withers wrote some of the greatest songs of all time, and this is not lost on the musicians of today. Chicago bluesman Shawn James proved that by paying tribute to the late legend with his acoustic cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine”, which is one of the most enduring songs from Withers’ superlative discography.

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James gave the R&B classic a blues makeover by stripping it back to a single guitar and vocal track. Withers was a skilled artist with an acoustic in hand, and rather than trying to replicate the larger man’s playing, James made the arrangement his own with a combination of lively strumming and deftly fingerpicked melodies. Chicago has a rich blues legacy, and James tapped into that with a passionate and husky vocal performance, as you can hear below.

James has quite a big following on YouTube, with 479,000 subscribers tuning into the content on his channel. However, the popularity of his “Ain’t No Sunshine” cover eclipsed all of his other videos, with the cover attracting a whopping 36.5 million views on the platform.

Fans flocked to the video to add comments such as “I’m speechless… covered in goosebumps! Bluesy and hauntingly powerful!” and “I’m old enough to remember when the original version of this song was released. This rendition by Mr. James is soulful and simply terrific. I’m sure Mr. Withers would agree!” James covers quite a lot of sonic territory, as seen with his cover of “That’s Life”, a traditional pop song made famous by Frank Sinatra. This cover was also popular, attracting 19 million views.

Shawn James is a 37-year-old singer-songwriter who was born on September 23, 1986. He was raised by Greek immigrants on Chicago’s South Side, and after shuffling around various cities as he pursued his music career, he eventually settled in Seattle.

James’ YouTube channel showcases covers in a range of styles as well as his original music, performed both live and in the studio. Starting with his debut solo album Shadows in 2012, he has released seven solo albums as well as five albums with his band The Shapeshifters. His online profile expanded substantially in October 2015 when his cover of A. A. Bondy’s “American Hearts”, which he performed in a wolf sanctuary, went viral on Reddit.

James showed impeccable taste with his choice in covering “Ain’t No Sunshine”. The 1971 single was Bill Withers’ commercial breakthrough, going two times Platinum in the UK and Gold in the US. The understated R&B number was Withers’ third single, and the lead single from his debut album Just as I Am.

“Ain’t No Sunshine” has continued to maintain relevance over the years, and is currently his most popular song on Spotify by a substantial margin, with 809 million streams. The song peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 upon its initial release. In 2009, Withers’ version re-entered the top 40 again after Kris Allen sang it on the eighth season of American Idol.

If you want to experience more of Shawn James’ soulful interpretations and unique blues style, you can find him on various platforms. To hear more of his incredible music, subscribe to his YouTube Channel. You can keep up with his latest news and updates on his Facebook page. Dive into his world and encounter some of the finest contemporary blues music. Enjoy his impressive acoustic cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine” and experience why this video alone has gained 36.5 million views on YouTube.

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