Jackie Shane (May 15, 1940 – February 21, 2019) was an American soul and rhythm and blues singer, who was most prominent in the local music scene of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in the 1960s. Considered to be a pioneer transgender performer, she was a contributor to the Toronto Sound and is best known for the single “Any Other Way”, which was a regional Top 10 hit in Toronto in 1962 and a modest national chart hit across Canada in 1967.
Originally Jackie hails from Nashville, Tennessee. She began performing back home in the 1950s wearing long hair, make-up, and jewellery. Vowing to escape the “Jim Crow South”, in the late 1950s, she joined a travelling carnival and arrived in Cornwall, Ontario, in 1959, where she said she felt free for the first time.
In 1960, Shane moved to Montreal, Quebec, where saxophonist “King” Herbert Whitaker invited her along to watch the popular band Frank Motley and his Motley Crew at the Esquire Show Bar. Shane showed up and sat down near the front. When Motley said, “Get that kid up here and let’s see what he can do,” pianist Curley Bridges invited Shane, then still presenting as a man, onstage for the next set, where she performed songs by Ray Charles and Bobby “Blue” Bland.
She was soon the band’s lead vocalist and relocated to Toronto with them in late 1961. She returned several times to the United States, on tour with the Motley Crew (to Boston, for example, where they recorded), to New York to record, to visit her family and old friends and perform on a TV show in Nashville, or to live and work in Los Angeles where she played drums in recording sessions.
Throughout her active musical career and for many years thereafter, Shane was written about by nearly all sources as a man who performed in ambiguous clothing that strongly suggested femininity, with some sources even directly labeling her as a drag queen. The few sources that actually sought out her own words on the matter of her own gender identification were more ambiguous, however; she identified herself as male in two early quotes to the Toronto Star, but more often appeared to simply dodge questions about her gender altogether. Her identity as a trans woman was not confirmed on the record by a media outlet until 2017.