In August 2016, Douglas Mcgowan arrived at a modest brick house near central Nashville with a contract and the faint hope of a face-to-face meeting with the home’s mysterious occupant.
Mr. Mcgowan, a scout for the archival record label the Numero Group, was looking for Jackie Shane, a venerated but misunderstood soul singer who had not been seen in public in nearly five decades. He had obtained Ms. Shane’s phone number three years earlier through a friend of hers, and the pair had developed what felt like a genuine long distance friendship — he engaged her on current affairs over lengthy, discursive phone calls and steered clear of prying personal questions; she teased him with a nickname, “Hot lips,” and told him he sounded short.
At Ms. Shane’s house in Nashville, Mr. Mcgowan had envisioned a climactic rendezvous. But it never happened.
“I’m not ready,” Mr. Mcgowan said Ms. Shane called out from the other side of a wall. After two hours of debating in the summer heat, he finally gave up, leaving the contract — an agreement for Ms. Shane to work with the Numero Group to reissue her catalog — on her front doorstep.
To Mr. Mcgowan’s relief, she signed it.
The reissue, a two-disc boxed set with extensive liner notes called “Any Other Way,” comes out Oct. 20. It is the first comprehensive collection of Ms. Shane’s music, which electrified primarily Canadian audiences throughout the 1960s. In 1963, the title track — a buttery William Bell cover — was a local hit on Toronto radio and peaked at No. 2 on the singles chart there, ahead of Skeeter Davis’s “The End of the World” and below the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine.”
Ms. Shane walked away from her career without explanation in 1971. In the intervening decades, she has become an internet curiosity and minor cult heroine among soul music aficionados who have spun crackpot theories as to her whereabouts and well-being.
Over two telephone calls this fall, Ms. Shane, who is now 77, spoke to The New York Times for her first-ever extensive interviews with the press, and first public remarks of any kind since she disappeared 46 years ago.
She was eager to break her silence.
“I told Sam and Doug: If you want me to be phony, you’ve got the wrong person,” Ms. Shane said, referring to her publicist and Mr. Mcgowan.
She was born in Nashville in 1940, black and transgender at a time when either meant a life of constriction and compromise.