By Manny Crisostomo
During a nationally televised singing competition, then 28-year-old Shane Quidachay belted a rendition of the country song “Tennessee Whiskey” in a blind audition that wowed all four judges, Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton and John Legend, of NBC’s “The Voice.”
His parents, Wayne and Darla Quidachay; his aunt, Nene Quidachay Sablan: and his best friend, Danelle Rabang were filmed backstage at that Universal Studios soundstage thrilled, happy and proud.
Over 50 years earlier, Shane’s father Wayne Quidachay and his father’s siblings as teens were part of the Guam family band The Sapphires performing at the Alan Seck Talent Show on KUAM.
Backstage were the teen’s parents: Antonio Taisipic Quidachay, familian Unda of Camp Witic, Yona, and Edith Evans Quidachay, formerly of Brooklyn, New York, an aspiring jazz singer now booking the family band’s gigs in the military and hotel circuit around the island.
The Quidachay musical family tree, which is rooted in Camp Witik, Yona, has travelled through to the back road of Maina to San Francisco and up I-80 to Sacramento where most of the second and third generations of self-taught singers and musicians now reside.
“Deep down I had a little nerves but this is what I love to do,’’ said Shane Quidachay, who has taken his natural abilities and the Quidachay musical legacy to a whole new level. “I’m doing what I love to do — but this time in front of the world and seeing them (“The Voice” judges) turn around, as I’m singing the song, in my head I was like, yes, yes. You can just say I was really happy. It validated what I was doing.”
It was two pandemic-filled years ago that he was finishing up a strong run as a contestant on “The Voice.” He was invited back as a show favorite to perform once again as a contestant at the show’s finale on Dec. 17 after making the top 10 but eliminated two weeks earlier.
During an interview, he was eager to share news of his upcoming EP of original songs, future plans and to reflect on “The Voice” journey. He talked about living in Sacramento with CHamoru culture and music around him and growing up so painfully shy it nearly short-circuited his singing career.
“I grew up around CHamoru people my whole life you know, I have CHamoru roots. I’ve been going to CHamoru events, barbecues, fiestas every weekend, since I was a kid, ” he said. “Being around my dad’s family and friends and learning the food and the back stories like the taotaomona and, you know, the war stories because they grew up on the island.”
Quidachay also got pretty good at the CHamoru style barbecue. “I like to barbecue ribs, chicken, and make red rice and finadene. But um, you know I’ve made kelaguen and shrimp patties. I can make a fiesta plate you know and I’ve done it often. I cook for family or friends and I’m usually the guy that brings some kind of barbecue to a party somewhere.”
“When I was 5 years old they (his family) all freaked out that I was able to sing.” He recalled that he sang “I Believe I Can Fly’’ by R. Kelly a capella and the family recorded it on cassette and will proudly play it for friends and family.
All the attention negatively impacted the shy 5-year-old. “I was shy already but became super shy because you know, everyone’s going, oh he sings. I was young, I was a kid and I didn’t know anything so I stopped singing and never really got back into it, until I was maybe 16. And I kind of broke out of my shell.”
“I remember I was in the Rio Linda High School jazz choir playing the drums at the time and I started singing one of the songs and the choir teacher was like, forget the drums, you’re going to sing now. And kind of just sang from then,” he said. “Not until I graduated in 2008 is when I started slowly performing around in public and private events and schools and just really small-time stuff.”
He also started a YouTube channel then, showcasing his singing. It caught the attention of talent scouts from “American Idol” who reached out to him every year for three years to audition. He felt he wasn’t ready and just did small gigs, jammed with family at barbecues and occasionally sang with his dad and uncles’ band the Backstreet Boulevard. “They would do a little bit of everything, private parties, bars, honky-tonks, vineyards, wineries — they’ve always done classic rock, that’s the era you know which they grew up in,” he said of the band.
“I grew up listening to my dad and uncles and family play music my whole life,” he added. “Just constantly hearing them and the influence and it’s just in me, you know, it’s always been there.”
After turning down invitations from “American Idol” for three years and “The Voice” for two years after, Quidachay finally agreed to audition in February 2019 in Oakland, California, for talent scouts for “The Voice.”. He sang three songs and got to the next round, which included a plane ticket and hotel stay in Burbank, California, where they tape the show.
“Getting on a TV show, I was thinking to myself, man, that’s a huge thing, that you know, you’re really putting yourself out there,’’ he said. “My parents dropped me off at Sac International, they said, good luck, we love you and do the best you can do.”
“Never been on a plane before, I’m 28, I’m scared and I’m by myself,” he recalled. “We landed at LAX and I’m freaking out, I mean, that’s a huge airport. I’ve never been to airports before. Grab my luggage and go down and see a person holding a sign with my name on it. I hopped in this person’s car hoping that they’re not going to kidnap me or anything.”
That was probably the extent of the drama he experienced, as with each step he conquered during the competition his confidence grew, his national fan base expanded, and he became a celebrity not only in Sacramento but also the island of Guam, which figured out quickly what the Q stood for in his stage name of Shane Q.
‘Go with the flow’
“I went into this competition saying whatever happens, happens, I’m just gonna go with the flow,” he said. “Everyone always said, ‘Man you look so calm and so laid back,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah that’s just naturally how I am. I wasn’t trying to act that way, it’s just how I am.’
“It just boggles my mind to know that he’s going to perform at ‘The Voice,’ come on now this is national TV, and of course, I’m just so excited,” said his father, Wayne Quidachay.
“Shane is a very exceptional singer. I taught him how to project his voice and to emphasize, but he’s got that range and he’s got the head voice. That’s what made Shane get to the final 10 in ‘The Voice’ is that they’re looking for exceptional, unique singers. They’re not looking for singers that sound like many.”
After “The Voice ‘’ wrapped up season 17, Shane returned to Sacramento planning to cash in on his newfound fame.
He got to sing the anthem at an NBA game between the Sacramento Kings and LA Lakers but a few months later the world shut down because of the COVID19 pandemic, and a bunch of appearances and performances were cancelled.
He spent COVID lockdown writing songs for an upcoming EP, which is due early next year and produced pro bono by a Sacramento area musician/producer who loves his singing and voice.
“He doesn’t want to be named yet,” Quidachay says of his angel producer. “He is a very, very accomplished producer and musician who’s worked with a lot of greats — Janet Jackson, Lionel Richie, Bobby Brown, Whitney (Houston) — he’s worked with a lot of great people.”
The Qudichay musical lineage that started with his grandfather singing with local boys at barbecues in Yona, then his grandmother who sang jazz but put all her energy promoting the family band at Guam venues culminates with Shane Q., top 10 finalist at “The Voice.”
But that once super-shy 5-year-old had a minor relapse during his time at “The Voice.”
“I got really nervous when I met Taylor Swift. I don’t know why, but I felt Taylor Swift was just like a super icon. I remember walking in the room, with my head down looking at the ground as I approached both of them. I gave both of them a hug but I was still looking at the ground.
And Taylor Swift says to Kelly Clarkson, ‘Shane’s not even looking at me.’ And I looked up, and I didn’t realize what I had said, but I said, ‘I’m sorry. You’re just so hard to look at.’
And Taylor says to Kelly, ‘Shane called me ugly.’ And I said, No, no that’s not what I meant. I’m just intimidated. I’m starstruck. And this whole time, the cameras are rolling.”