On episode #221 of his podcast, the BobbyCast, Bobby Bones invited Shay Mooney, his friend and 1/2 of the duo Dan + Shay, as a guest. Two two chatted about Star Wars, getting recognized in public and more, but the majority of the conversation centered on talking about the incredible rise of Dan + Shay.
Shay grew up in Natural Dam, Arkansas, a town of apparently 511 people, although he swears he never saw more than 200 residents in the town. Growing up, Shay says he would sing at his church and during chapel at his Christian school, but he admits to Bobby that he was more known as the class clown rather than the singer. He did start honing his musical skills in high school though, and it was during that time that he got what he thought was his big break: a record deal with rapper T-Pain. It all began when Shay was living in Pittsburgh with his sister and met one of T-Pain’s backup dancers. That dancer then connected Shay to T-Pain, who ended up inviting him to a show.
“I’m in this back room at a movie theater FaceTiming T-Pain,” Shay says. “And he was like, ‘Hey, I want you to come to Memphis. We’re playing a show there.’ It was him and Chris Brown. ‘I want you to come and play with us and do the whole deal.’ So, I was just like, ‘Yeah!’”
Shay went to Memphis to meet with T-Pain and was offered a record deal with him. He then moved to Roswell, Georgia as part of the deal, but he soon started to realize that the deal was not what he thought it would be. Around that same time, Shay was starting to get the itch to move to Nashville, which is where he met Dan Smyers. The two hit it off and started pursuing their career as a duo, but there was just the little problem of the T-Pain record deal.
“There were a lot of people that helped me get out of the deal,” Shay says. “When [Dan and I] met, it became like, ‘Oh man, what’s going to happen because this is a problem. I’m still in this deal.’ That was a pretty rough little time there for a little while because there were a lot of feelings hurt on all sides.”
Once Dan and Shay signed their record deal with Warner Music Nashville, they burst on the scene with their debut single “19 You + Me,” which peaked at Number 11 on the Country Airplay chart. Bobby and Shay then reflected on the ups and downs of Dan + Shay’s career, including the duo’s second single “Show You Off,” which didn’t do as well as they had hoped. The duo soon bounced back with their next single and their first Number 1 hit, “Nothin’ Like You.” That was followed by “From The Ground Up,” which Bobby and Shay both agreed earned the duo a newfound respect as artists. However, most music fans would agree that it was their seventh single “Tequila” that truly put Dan + Shay on the map.
“Tequila was the moment where everyone was like, ‘Oh my god. That is crazy,’’ says Shay. “It made us the cool thing to see in town when that song hit. It changed everything pretty much overnight. It was just insane.”
Dan + Shay have haven’t let up on the gas since “Tequila,” having released several hits since, including “Speechless,” “All To Myself,” and their current single, “10,000 Hours,” featuring Justin Bieber. To hear Shay talk about these songs and more, listen to episode #221 of the BobbyCast.