If I Ever Fall In Love
by Shai

Album: If I Ever Fall In Love (1992)
Charted: 36 2
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Songfacts®:

  • This heartfelt a cappella number captures a feeling we hadn't heard before in an R&B tune. The guy in the song falls hard for a beautiful girl, but once he gets to know her, it's not her beauty that enchants him, it's her friendship. This being an R&B song, he finds a way to screw it up, but he's learned his lesson. If he ever falls in love again, he'll be sure that the lady is a friend. Then he hits her with the line the will surely get her back:

    If I ever in love so true
    I will be sure that the lady's just like you
  • Shai formed at Howard University, originally for a talent show, but when they heard how their four voices sounded together, they thought it could be something more.

    Group member Carl Martin came up with "If I Ever Fall In Love" when he was driving back to campus from his home in Louisiana after Christmas break in early 1992 after listening to the same songs on the radio over and over. He thought the airwaves needed something new and different, so he came up with the song in his head - he claims it all came to him in about 15 minutes. He knew it was good because he didn't forget it when he arrived on campus.

    Martin taught the song to his bandmates and at the talent show they sang part of it along with some Boyz II Men songs. They eventually worked out the harmonies and performed the whole song at an open-mic night, getting a great reaction from the crowd. They made a demo and took it to the Howard radio station, WHUR, but they wouldn't play it. Undeterred, in August Martin went to a charity softball game hosted by the local station WPGC and started singing the song to their DJ, Paco Lopez. He gave the demo to Lopez, who played it at the station the next day for a group of women. They went crazy for the song, which convinced the program director it was a hit.

    WPGC, the top-rated station in Washington, DC, started playing the demo and the phones lit up. Shai signed to the label Gasoline Alley, which released the song in October. Thanks to buzz from the WPGC airplay, stations around the country jumped on it, and the song became a huge hit, spending eight weeks at #2 in America starting on November 21 (for most of that time, it was held from the top spot by Whitney Houston's indomitable "I Will Always Love You." Just a year after Martin drove home listening to the same five or six songs playing over and over on the radio, he had one of those songs in that rotation.
  • The group was originally called Beta, but switched to Shai, which means "personification of destiny" in Swahili.
  • The popular a cappella version of this song runs 3:08; various versions with instrumentation were also released, most of which run about a minute longer. Music videos were made for both the a cappella version and one of the mixes with instruments.
  • Shai followed this up with "Comforter" and "Baby I'm Yours," both of which went to #10 in America. In 1994, they reached #34 with "The Place Where You Belong," which was used on the Beverly Hills Cop III soundtrack. They landed a few more minor hits over the next few years before fading from the scene.
  • In 1996 two British artists - the boy band East 17 and the singer Gabrielle - teamed up to released a cover that went to #2 in the UK. In 2015, Pentatonix released a popular version of this song with guest vocalist Jason Derulo.

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