Real Talk w/ Darnell Van Rensalier of Shai


What does the r and b of the 90’s represent to you?

90’s music represents one point in the history of American r&b music when the business model of the music industry was such to where male and female singing groups were more of a focus, while the 2000’s showcase a model where super sexy images, flashy lights, autotune, dance tracks, and internet hits are more of the focus on where the money is going to promote artists. As far as the artists though, there are extremely talented artists and hot songs representing both eras.

Where do you think Shai’s contributions fit into the fabric of great 90’s r&b?

Shai fits in the fabric of the 90’s I believe with the content of our material being of a high quality, our harmony was unique in that we used somewhat non traditional chords, arrangements and inversions a lot, but still fit them into songs with a mostly traditional r&b vibe. We also wrote and performed arguably one of the biggest hits of that time.

What would say the group’s “crowning achievement” is?

The song If I Ever is no doubt the aspect of Shai most folks remember, so thats probably the “crowning achievement”. We sang with Michael Jackson at Bill Clinton’s inauguration ceremony, that ranks up there as one of those “Hey now we’ve made it” moments too, no doubt.


How would you best describe the lineup?

I’d best define the acts performing in Hawaii on Feb 14th as four of the acts that most definitely showcase the amazing sounds, look, energy of r&b in America. These acts are all responsible for a good portion of the huge hits that defined and shaped the 90’s era. These groups are part of that return to performing with each other trying to outdo each other night after night only in seeing who can have the most fun with the crowd sharing Great music…always a fun time between groups like these, the fans, the promoters, everyone enjoys it.

What influences from acts like yourselves, Blackstreet and K-CI and Jojo do you hear in r and b and soul music today?

I hear influences to a degree production wise from what Teddy did with his work schooling the Neptunes, and how they took techniques and made their own thing. K-Ci, Jo-Jo and the work Jodeci did with Timbaland and Missy, who in turn did their thing with what they were taught and used some elements in the artists they worked with…like Justin Timberlake. Vocally and as far as smooth harmony backgrounds and leads like Shai, I hear Mario, T-Pain (though he goes between autotune like Teddy and stretched chords like Shai), Neyo definitely did his homework and picked up some of all the best things we all do and made all of that his own thing…a genius! A lot of these cats actually are quite amazing. Bobby Valentino is one of my personal favorites too and I consider him one of these young cats…but he of course laid a foundation for the guys I just named with “Slow Down”, “Tell Me” and his whole smooth style over a nice groove track…and “Come Touch Me” is one I like a lot too.


Fondest Valentines Day moment?

Actually I can’t remember a really special one for Shai recently, so I’m hoping we can create a special favorite moment this coming Valentine’s day with all of the lovely people in Hawaii at the show. Maybe some lucky couple will fall in love that night and we can play a small part in their magic.

Final thoughts on the upcoming show?

Shai would like to thank everyone involved in putting this show together for keeping the music alive! We definitely want to thank the fans for supporting all of the acts on the show, without all of you, there is no opportunity for us to do what we love..share our music. We are looking forward to having a Great time like every time we’ve been blessed to come to Hawaii…the people are beautiful inside and out, the weather, the energy…can’t wait!


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