Shawn Smith was one of Seattle’s most beloved soul singers, who was known for his calming, blues-style voice. Born in Spokane, Washington, he moved to Seattle in 1987. It was then that he formed a band, Malfunkshun, alongside drummer Regan Hagar and Kevin and Andrew Wood. He worked with some of the city’s greatest musical artists and achieved success in 1993 when he released his first studio album with the band Brad, Shame. On Friday, he was found dead in his Seattle home. Medical examiners officially confirmed his death on Saturday, but say it is still too early to determine what caused his death. The singer was only 53-years-old, according to The Seattle Times.
While Smith was highly acclaimed in his home city of Seattle, many of his fans feel he never reached the level of fame and recognition he truly deserved during his lifetime. Prior to his death, the singer was working on a new album with Brad, which he founded in 1992 along with a team of big name artists. The band included Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, Regan Hagar, and bassist Jeremy Toback. They had been hard at work preparing the album at Studio Litho, owned by Gossard.
Shawn Smith, singer with Brad, Satchel and Pigeonhed, dead at 53https://t.co/IxvUwiztwb
— Classic Rock (@ClassicRockMag) April 6, 2019
One of his most popular songs was “The Day Brings,” which was featured in one of the band Brad’s album, Interiors. Despite having worked closely with some of the greats, Smith never quite reached the same acclaim that some of his peers enjoyed throughout their careers. As a result, there were times he found himself hard pressed for cash. Nevertheless, he was not without a plethora of devoted fans.
In 2016, Smith stated that it had never been about the money for him when he embarked upon his career as a soul singer and songwriter. For him, his motivation was his passion for music. He emphasized that he didn’t believe he deserved more money or fame than the next person.
“I don’t deserve any more than anyone else. I just was never focused on making money. It was always about making the best songs I could make. That was my goal, to be a songwriter.”
Three years ago, a friend of Smith’s started a GoFundMe with the goal of raising some money for him so he could carry on pursuing his dreams. While they meant well, the gesture embarrassed the singer.
“I need to cross over into a new stage of my life,” he said after the incident.