Life Is Good For Garfield Bright Of Legendary R&B Group Shai


By Percy Crawford
Photos courtesy of Garfield Bright 

Shai is enjoying the fruits of their labor while being back on the road consistently.

Garfield Bright of 90’s R&B group Shai still has his “Wow” moments, when reflecting on the past, present, and future of the group. More than 30 years after their debut album, “If I Ever Fall In Love,” Shai continues to grace the stage and perform their hits from their deep catalog. Fate intervened when Garfield’s Howard University roommate Darnell nabbed the basketball player and convinced him to join the group. The rest, as they say, is history. Staying booked and on the road, mostly through Shane Williams’ Yung Fly Entertainment’s “Ladies R&B Kickback” concerts.

Garfield explains why he is blessed to still be able to create, talks about Shai’s full June calendar, and much more.

How is life treating you?

Garfield: Great. I was telling my wife this morning, in terms of quality of life, even though I’m not anywhere close to “Money” Mayweather riches, but I’m okay enough to wake up, do what my passion is creatively, still got residual income, still got shows, pay my bills, and not have the monkey on my back of the corporate entities scrutinizing some work that I’m trying to do. I can be in my thoughts and my creativity and go to sleep with a smile on my face and wake up and do it all over again until it’s time to go to the next show. I’m blessed!

It made me realize too, with everyone going through some things, when you get older and wiser, what you’re in right now is going to be the good ole days in the future. This moment right now is the good ole days in a minute. When we look at the past, we kind of delete the bad scenes in a lot of ways, or we look at the bad scenes as things that made us grow, so we embrace it with a different perspective than how it was viewed when we were going through it. So, we view it as valuable and still put it in the good ole days category. You can only see that when you move forward a little bit. I’m feeling good where I’m at in this world. I know things can change, but right now, life is good.

With everything you just said, to still be able to create, perform, and book shows, from 1992 to 2024, what does that say about the Shai legacy and the imprint you guys made?

Garfield: I’m so blessed to be snatched into this trajectory of life. My man, Darnell, my college roommate. He dragged me into this. I wasn’t trying to be in a singing group. I played basketball. I wanted to be a DJ. I was pretty smart, so I was at Howard [University] trying to work my way through. I didn’t grow up thinking I was going to be a singer. Darnell was like, “G” you gotta be in this group. Based on him doing that, opened me up to a world that I would’ve never been in. I like it to the bonus rounds of Donkey Kong when all of the coins are available. You can’t stay in that space forever, but while you’re there you can get all the coins that you can get. I feel he put me into a world that even now at 54, I can do something that I created a blueprint for when I was in my twenties that still sustains me. Thank God we made songs that people resonate with that are classics. It feels good to be on this side of things to say, we had some classics that we can still perform. I didn’t plan any of this. I was just floating through life and God put me in some spaces.

When you’re called a legend, or the songs are called classics, how does that make you feel?

Garfield: It’s crazy to me because we were just some college dudes, we had a vision, we naively thought we were dope enough to have a record deal. Not knowing all these other ancillary details. We just thought we had a cool thing going and it worked. It was almost like a fairytale from the beginning, and all of these years later we go out and do our show, there has never been a moment where the crowd didn’t enjoy the hell out of, “If I Ever Fall In Love.” Take over the song. As a 54-year-old man, to go on stage and get that exhilarating feeling still, and it still feels like when I was 20 and on tour with SWV and Jade. There are certain people in the audience who are our age, but there are people in there who are 25 years old. And they are singing word for word loud.

Is it difficult to be on the road so consistently again being 54 years old?

Garfield: We never left the stage. We were always performing. There was a period where we had less shows than we have now, because we weren’t quite old school enough to be old school. We were in between where they wanted to book the newest acts, but we weren’t old enough to be a novelty act. Now, we done fell into that old school 90’s R&B state where all of the promoters are like, “Where Shai at?” We are hittin’ the roadway more than we have been in a long time. Shout out to Shane [Williams] from Yung Fly Entertainment. He really looks out for us and puts us on the road a lot. We have so many shows coming up. We have a show every weekend in June. That part, all the planes gets taxing, but you have a smile on your face knowing you’re about to get the lil bag, and sing your lil hit songs for the people that still want to see you for some reason (laughing). And we get to hang out with our boys and the ladies from all the other groups. Shout out to all the groups that we be on tour with.

Have you found a favorite city yet?

Garfield: There are a lot of dope places that respect music, but the standout to me in terms of music IQ and if they rock with you, they are rocking with you hard, the Midwest region; Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, Gary, Indiana. They doing all the adlibs that you forgot you even did.

H.E.R. did a Mother’s Day special for her mom some years back, and she brought out Shai and SWV as two of her mom’s favorite groups. That video is up to 9.5 million views on YouTube. How crazy is that?

Garfield: Really? I did not know that. Just a backstory. We were chillin. We weren’t even on the circuit like that. Just a few shows every other month. All of a sudden, we get a phone call from VH1 saying, the artist, H.E.R. wants to treat her mother by bringing the group she likes, which was SWV and Shai on this TV thing she had. That got us in front of people again, nostalgia, TI, Monica, all of them were there. We were snatched out of our little pocket we were in, so it was cool. We got the red-carpet treatment, and we hadn’t felt that in years. Through H.E.R. we had a chance to feel that again. People gave us our flowers.

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