On February 1, 2002, William Shirley was welcomed into the world by his parents, Marty and Charlotte Shirley, and his older brother, Lucas. Not long after that his love for music was clear. His dad played music his entire life so throughout Will’s early years he would hear his father playing guitar and singing, or he would even listen to his fathers 1993 album “Chasin’ a Star” on Cassette or his 2004 demo tapes.
It wasn’t much longer until Will wanted to begin playing music on his own. After his grandpa, “Papa Donna,” gifted him an Epiphone guitar for one of his earlier birthdays, his dad showed him some basic chords and Will was off to the races. He still went to his dad for some questions and even took lessons for a very short period of time, but God blessed Will with the gift of music so he took to it very quickly. Fast forward to elementary school and Will joined choir where he was able to make trips to All-State. He eventually joined band in 6th grade where he also was able to make a trip to All-State playing the trumpet. By now his love for music was undeniable.
In 7th grade, after his dad got a new job at a school closer to home, Will and his brother transferred from the Belton school system to Anderson Christian School. It was a change of pace and different environment, but it didn’t take long for Will to get involved in sports and start making friends. After he started making his new friends, word got around about his music but Will was very shy about his music at this point.
Fast forward to freshman year and Will finally begins getting involved with music at his school. After posting some videos on Instagram singing and playing guitar he was talked into joining the chapel band. Initially he was sort of a part-time member where he played guitar. It wasn’t until his Junior year where things really began changing for him.
We won’t go into details here since there is another post with the story, “The Pinky Promise That Changed My Life,” but there still are a few things to touch on here. Yes, his friend McKenna made him pinky promise that he would sing in chapel before the end of the year, but there were so many people that pushed and encouraged him. His new Bible teacher (and band director) Mr. Floyd, guidance counselor Ms. Kelly, and numerous friends like Weston, Matthew, Marco, ZB, and many others. Not to many all the teachers and staff that began pushing him as well. He eventually sang in chapel and never looked back singing in chapel the rest of Junior year and all of Senior year until COVID-19 sadly cut his Senior year short.
Skip forward past his graduation and this is where his music journey really begins. A close family member generously gifted Will $2000 for graduation. After saying that was too much and he couldn’t accept it numerous times, he was eventually told to put it towards something important like school or his car. Fortunately Will had a hand me down car fully paid off and a scholarship to cover his education, so Will put it towards the next most important thing in his life - Music.
He reached out to numerous local studios before eventually meeting with Brad Phillips at Studio 101 in Woodruff, SC. Will really liked Brad from the start because he could tell Brad was not only a very nice person, but also very passionate about music. Will an his Dad sat down and picked out 4 songs to record his debut EP and after working with some extremely talented musicians, Will had his debut EP ready to be released.
This is where things get a little strange though. Will had 4 songs ready to go just sitting on his computer, he had told friends and family about them and had people ready to hear his music, but he wouldn’t release them. Looking back on it he can’t recall why that is, maybe it was nerves, but he eventually began to build up the release of the single of his EP and on November 29th, 2020, “Back To You” was released with the full EP “Fly, Fly, Fly” following a couple weeks later on December, 13th.
His EP did extremely well for him and after a few months he decided it was time to begin playing music locally. He reached out to some local bars and restaurants but most places either didn’t respond or stopped responding when they found out he was new to the scene. However, a local brewery called the Carolina Bauernhaus told Will to come out to one of their weekly open-mic nights. From there Will, and his friend Aden Webb, were offered a joint show. After playing their first joint show Will was offered solo shows and continues to play their Anderson and Greenville locations to this day. His friend Aden helped Will get in with a popular restaurant called Raines on Main where Will is still a regular at as well.
Skip ahead to late 2021 and the focus had shifted to Will’s dad, Marty Shirley. Like previously stated, Will grew up listening to his dads music and has stated numerous times that his dad is the reason he got into music. Funny enough, working alongside Will for his EP and helping Will at his shows lit the fire in his dad again and he was ready to record a new album. He ended up recording his album “The Trouble With The Truth” in April of 2022 at Studio 101 with Brad and Ian.
There were 2 songs that Marty recorded for his album that he didn’t end up using and Will talked him into giving them to him. His dad agreed so Will went in for vocal days with Brad and laid down vocals on “No Fallen Angel” and “The Actress.” Both songs have since become very successful for Will and have gained him more local fans and even international fans as well.
Today, Will still plays locally throughout Upstate South Carolina and is hoping to record an acoustic album early into 2023 drawing inspiration from “The Marfa Tapes” by Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall, and Jack Ingram. Will and his dad have always emphasized lyrics when it comes to their songs and the idea of stripping everything away but the guitar and the story is something Will loves. Keep your eyes peeled for this project in the coming months and make sure you catch a show if you get the opportunity.