Bill took an unorthodox route to his music career. He started out attending U.C. Santa Barbara with the intention of following in his father's footsteps and becoming a lawyer (actually, his father's, grandfathers', sister's, uncle's, and cousins' footsteps). But, after a few reggae concerts in Santa Barbara, his musical path came calling. "I would take my guitar down to the beach at night and strum my heart out. I'd always carry an extra G string in my back pocket for when I got a bit carried away. Those were my first experiences of really connecting with my music."
He left the prescribed path and Santa Barbara behind as he returned to his native Los Angeles to study music full time. "I was in heaven...exploring the intricacies of guitar playing and music theory." He carried on his collegiate studies at Oberlin College where he studied jazz and classical guitar along with psychology and religion "with a focus on psychological perspectives of the religious experience. I'm a firm believer that each religion carries a thread of truth, and music, at its best is a mystical/religious experience."
After graduating from Oberlin in 1993, Bill debuted his talents with an album of singer songwriter and solo guitar material for Andromeda International Records. Since that time, he has worked as a session guitarist, songwriter and producer on tracks for artists such as Dolly Parton, Carly Simon and Zsa Zsa Gabor to name a few. He also formed a personalized children's music company. Through it all, it was the guitar that kept calling him to record again:
"With the guitar in my hands, I can communicate in ways that are beyond words. Music gives us the freedom to say what we truly feel." What Bill has to say is speaking volumes to those who have heard his music.
Jerry Jordan (engineer for Madonna, Roger Waters, Rod Stewart and co-producer of the album) comments:
"There is a great diversity of music for this album, with elements of jazz, smooth jazz, world music, classical, new age. Bill's playing and the voice of his guitar shine through each of the songs."
In order to finance this self-produced album that would be on par with the scope of his musical vision, Bill went to work as a judgment collector for a law office in Los Angeles.
"There was something liberating about being able to focus all of my creative energy on the album, being able to bring in some of the best musicians in the world, build my own state of the art recording studio, and still be able to pay rent and eat something other than mac and cheese."
The results of Shafton's labor are clearly reflected in the music. With compelling smooth jazz grooves, stellar guitar playing, world music stylings and heartfelt songs, Shafton takes the listener on a musical journey from start to finish.
The album closes with a musical tribute to his late father. "One of my most treasured memories is the two of us playing piano/guitar duets. He gave me such a solid foundation as a musician and, of course, as a man. Now it's my honor to pass along his legacy that I hold...In My Hands."
Check out the artist's website:
1. In My Hands
2. Santa Barbara Sun
3. Norwiegen Wood
4. Around The Bend
5. No Regrets
6. First Try
7. Welcome Home
8. The Journey
9. Compliments Of The House
11. You and Me
12. Celebration of Life