Flashback Friday: Shai – “Comforter”
Shai, originally named Beta (after the majority of the members’ Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity chapter – The “Bloody” Betas), was formed at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Three of its four members, Marc Gay, founding member Carl Martin, and Darnell Van Rensalier, belonged to the same fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and along with good friend Garfield A. Bright, decided to take a chance at turning their hobby of singing at talent shows into a career. While still in DC, Carl met a DJ from radio station WPGC at a softball game, and passed a demo tape of “If I Ever Fall in Love” to him. That same week, the DJ played it on the air. Other stations soon followed suit, and in short order the record labels came calling. After signing with Gasoline Alley, Shai began quickly putting together their debut album, which was recorded in three weeks.
Carl E. Martin wrote the single “If I Ever Fall in Love” on a long ride back from his home in Louisiana to Washington, DC. It was written about his ex-girlfriend Camille, who also attended Howard University.
“If I Ever Fall in Love” was released as the first single, and peaked at #2 in the U.S. The next two releases from the double-platinum album, “Comforter” and “Baby I’m Yours,” each peaked #10. The group’s next album release was Right Back At Cha, a remix album of sorts that largely consisted of new versions of their previous hits, with a couple of new songs as well. A completely reworked version of their previous hit “Baby I’m Yours,” simply titled “Yours,” was released as a single, and peaked at #63.
Shai returned in 1994 with “The Place Where You Belong,” from the Beverly Hills Cop III soundtrack. It was the group’s final Top 40 single. In late 1995, their follow-up album Blackface was released (#42 Pop, #15 R&B). It featured their final R&B Top 20 single “Come With Me” (#43 Pop). The group’s last chart appearance was the follow-up single, 1996′s #89 single “I Don’t Wanna Be Alone” (the remix of which featured Jay-Z), although they have continued to record. The 1999 album Destiny was recorded without Carl Martin (who had left the group after Blackface’s release), and their 2004 studio album Back From The Mystery System … The Love Cycle was recorded with new member Erik Willis.
In 2008 Garfield A. Bright and Darnell Van Rensalier released their duet album Worldwide as D-n-G of Shai on the Fight 4 Mu (ALIVE) label in Germany. Marc Gay and replacement member Erik Willis had left the group and are now replaced by Riff & Men Of Vizion member Dwayne Jones & Men Of Vizion member George Spencer III.
- Darnell Van Rensalier
- Garfield.A. Bright
- Dwayne Jones
- George Spencer III
- Carl Martin
- Marc Gay
- Erik Willis