The youngest of two sons of Claude and Fannie Shields, Dale and his older brother, Gerald were raised in a house full of art, music and spiritual values. Both of his parents sang gospel music, professionally. His mother was a member of the Turner Gospel Singers and his father leading the Shields Brothers Jr. Gospel Quartet (The Jubilee Four).
His Grandfather, Claude Shields Sr., led the Shields Brothers Sr Gospel Singers and owned a dry cleaning business under the same name in Cleveland, Ohio. Dale is also the cousin of the legendary fight promoter, Don King. Dale Ricardo Shields received his B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees (summa cum laude) from Ohio University. He attained additional graduate study at Wayne State University (The Hilberry Company) where he founded the Lloyd Richards’ Society at Wayne State University. He attained additional study at the Negro Ensemble Company, Henry Street Settlement (New Federal Theatre) and The National Improvisational Theatre. He attended John F. Kennedy High School (Cleveland, Ohio) where he received an Honor of Merit Award presented by John Glenn (Astronaut, and United States Senator), from the Exchange Club of Cleveland for service to his community. He also co-authored the John F. Kennedy High School Alma Mater and was commencement class speaker at the 1970 graduation ceremony. He was inducted into the George E. Mills Gallery of Excellence at his high school after graduation.