Canadian Country Star Shane Yellowbird Dead at 42: 'He Was a Trailblazer'

The singer's cause of death has not yet been publicly released

Shane Yellowbird at the Juno Fan Fare
Photo: Peter Tanner/UPI/Shutterstock

Shane Yellowbird, a well-known Cree country singer from Canada, died unexpectedly on Monday, his family confirmed to CBC News. He was 42.

Yellowbird became an award-winning singer after a stuttering condition led him to music, CBC reported.

While a cause of death has not been publicly revealed, close friends shared that the singer had a history of health conditions including epilepsy.

"Several years ago he started to share that he wasn't doing as many shows because he was suffering from seizures," Yellowbird's friend and fellow musician Crystal Shawanda told CBC News.

In a post on social media on Tuesday, Shawanda said that she was "shocked" by her friend's death.

Shane Yellowbird performs at the Canadian Country Music Awards
CP PHOTO/Troy Fleece

"From the moment we met he called me lil Sis and I called him Bro, we were just 2 Rez kids that decided to go for it and we'd behave as such whenever we saw each other, veterans of the sort," she wrote alongside a photo of the pair. "We were lucky to be there, and we knew it. So many memories of so many back stages, when I won female artist of the year at the CCMAs he was right there waiting backstage, so proud."

"He was a trailblazer and no male indigenous country music artist has yet to do what he did, which shows the magnitude of what he accomplished," she continued. "Too young, too soon. Sending prayers for his journey home, and for all his family, friends and fans. See you later Bro."

In 2007, Yellowbird won the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Rising Star Award. One of his most popular songs, "Pickup Truck," was his first top-five hit on the Canadian Country singles chart in the summer of 2007, CBC News reported.

Louis O'Reilly, who signed Yellowbird to his record label in 2003, told CTV News that he was "charmed by him and his talent spoke for itself."

The manager said he knew his former artist had epilepsy, and sometimes seizures, but did not learn of his death until Tuesday morning.

Shane Yellowbird accepts the Chevy Rising Star award during the Canadian Country Music Awards
CP PHOTO/Troy Fleece

"He had a tremendous voice and a tremendous charisma, and kind of a shyness and an 'aww shucks' bashfulness that people saw in him and gravitated to him for that reason," O'Reilly told CTV.

"I never signed Shane because he was Indigenous. I signed Shane because of his talent. But the Indigenous community obviously embraced him and we were very grateful for Indigenous programs that brought him to the forefront."

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