Shawn (Fernandes) Desman
Musician, Producer, Dancer
Born and raised in Toronto.
I owe it to them because they are the ones that got me my start and put me up on stage… I was able to tour across the whole country singing in Portuguese. There are Portuguese people everywhere – Shawn Desman.
Shawn “Desman” Fernandes is a descendant of Portuguese immigrants from São Miguel and Terceira. Growing up in Toronto’s Little Portugal had a major impact on his life, including during the launch of his music career performing for the Portuguese community. Desman has since become one of Canada’s most successful R&B and Pop singers, dancers, and producers, for which he has received multiple accolades.
Shawn Bosco Fernandes (Desman) was born in Toronto in 1982. His father was born in São Miguel, Azores, and immigrated to Canada as a child. For most of his life he worked in construction, building hardwood floors. Desman’s mother was born in Canada to immigrant parents from Terceira, Azores, and Italy. She worked in various jobs at hospitals and health clinics.
Desman grew up in a family of music lovers. His parents enrolled him in a Portuguese singing school where he was mentored by Luis Filipe Neves. Under the latter’s mentorship, Desman recorded four albums in Portuguese and performed in Lisbon, Terceira, São Miguel, and Faial. The Portuguese community in Toronto supported Desman, which helped grow his singing and dancing talents, and his professional experience as a musician by performing during the Portugal Day festivities in Trinity-Bellwoods Park, Canada’s Wonderland, and other venues since he was ten years old. During this time, Desman recorded a music video for his song “Tu És Minha,” which featured his future wife Chantelle Leonardo-Fernandes.
After spending the first seven years of his career singing solely in Portuguese, Desman decided to launch himself into the mainstream Canadian music scene. He dropped “Fernandes” and assumed the name “Desman,” which was his childhood nickname – short for “(Fernan)Des man.” In 2000, Desman signed a record deal with BMG Canada. He released his first album, Shawn Desman, in October 2002, which featured three top ten singles on the Canadian charts – “Shook,” “Spread My Wings,” and “Get Ready.” The album achieved gold certification in Canada. His second album, Back for More, which featured the hit single “Let’s Go,” was released in May 2005 and won a Juno Award for Best R&B Recording. His third album, Fresh, was released by Universal Canada in August 2010, which won two gold singles, one platinum single, Video of the Year at the Much Music Video Awards, Canadian Dance/Pop Song of the Year at the Stylus Awards, and SOCAN Number 1 Award for “Electric/Night Like This.” Desman’s fourth album, Alive, was released in 2013 along with an accompanying short film.
Desman is also a producer who has worked with multiple notable artists, including Nick Carter, Kreesha Turner, and the Portuguese-Canadians Keshia Chante and Danny Fernandes (Shawn’s brother). He also produced music for contestants on YTV’s The Next Star, including Brock Zanrosso’s “One More First Chance” in 2009 and “It Might Be You” for contestant Parker Schmidt in 2011. In 2010, Desman co-founded MOVE Dance Competition with Beatriz Leonardo, with four locations in Ontario and Manitoba, offering dance competitions for local studios. Desman has starred in three films, including How She Move (2017).
In 2015, Desman stopped recording music due to personal and family health reasons. He returned to his passion and career in 2022 after Drake invited him to perform at his All Canadian North Stars event at OVO Fest. Desman’s performance caught Drake’s attention, encouraging him to start recording again. Later that year, he released “Manic,” his first single since 2015. Desman has started a new musical project with Tebey Ottoh called RadioClub. Their debut single, an EDM remake of the hit “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley, peaked within the Top 40 on Canadian Pop Radio. They have been featured on the cover of Amazon Music’s Dance Hits and Fresh Dance playlists, and their music has helped to launch the careers of artists such as Jesse Gold.
Hora dos Portugueses