Kevin Sharp Biography
Last updated: 04/14/2014 08:48:50 PM
SHHH! Don't wake Kevin Sharp
He thinks he's dreaming.
"Sometimes it hits me that I'm doing what I love and it's like a dream come true," Sharp says. "It's usually when I'm in the car or riding on the bus between cities and I'm looking out the window, thinking 'Man, I'm really doing this. This is the real thing."
Look at the past year and it's easy to understand why Sharp feels as if he's living a dream-a debut album nearing platinum, a string of chart-topping hits, award nominations. A high-profile tour, the BMI Song of the Year for "Nobody Knows," .
Dreaming? Hardly. Sharp has worked hard at achieving the success that was little more than a vision several years ago.
He's a living contradiction: A dreamer with one eye on the here and now. He's faced death and, in the process learned to live. He's an old soul with a child's sense of astonishment. Pensive off stage, he's a wild man in concert, climbing the rafters and wading into a sea of fans. Tender with a youngster one minute, he is curling weights and throwing a football with band mates the next. He's spiritual and has a keen sense of humor.
Extremes of emotion: that's his playing field.
Love Is is a collection of songs that deal with Sharp's growing confidence as a performer and his burgeoning love for his fans. It takes him beyond his Asylum Record debut, Measure Of A Man, and displays a voice that is mature and knowing, hesitant and sweet.
"Love is so many different things to each of us, "Sharp says. "Throughout my life I've learned the importance of loving and being loved. Whether it be love gained or love lost, the experience is incredible. A big part of what I hope to do through my music and this album is to show the importance loving one another, because truly Love Is all the really matters."
Sharp can't sing songs he doesn't believe in and the well of experience he draws from is deep and powerful. He's at his best interpreting a lyric, and Sharp and producer Chris Farren teamed up once more for most of the CD. In addition, acclaimed producer David Foster (Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand) flew into Nashville to work with Kevin on several songs. This was particularly momentous event for Kevin since meeting David was his "wish" when his cancer was first diagnosed and he became a "Make A Wish" Foundation kid. Foster was instrumental in helping Sharp land his recording contract and has stayed involved in Sharp's development as an artist. Working together on Love Is was their first collaboration and a dream come true for Sharp.
Anticipation is high following the success of Measure Of A Man, which spawned hit after hit including the much-lauded "Nobody Knows" plus chart-toppers "She's Sure Taking It Well" and "If You Love Somebody." The album garnered Sharp numerous award nominations including New Male Vocalist from the Academy of Country Music, New Touring Artist of the Year from the Country Music Association/SRO and Favorite New Country Artist from the American Music Awards. In 1998, he's already nominated for TNN/Music City News Awards Male Star of Tomorrow.
Sharp's acclaim doesn't end there. He was on Billboard magazine's Top 10 lists for both Country Artist and Country Album. He picked up a trophy for the CMT Rising Male Video Star of the Year and received a nomination for Billboard's best "New Artist Country Video." On the lighter side, Sharp was crowned the "Sexiest Man" by Sacramento's News and Review.
Trophies are nice, but the award Sharp values most is the "Wishgranter of the Year" annually bestowed by the Make A Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Sharp, who is a national spokesman for the group, was singled out for the devotion, dedication and inspiration he provides the children.
"A boy named Matthew gave me the most valuable thing I will ever get in this life-no award, nothing could match what he did for me," recalls Sharp. "He wanted to meet the guy that sang 'Nobody Knows.' He didn't even know my name or that I'd had cancer or that I was a former wish child, too. The song touched him and he was only eight years old. He died two days later.
"That's what music means. Matthew illustrates the power of music and its ability to reach and move people at the most difficult time in their life. That's what music meant to me when I had cancer and that's what it meant to Matt."
Sharp's heart is obvious to anyone who has met him and his story has been showcased by media outlets including "Live with Regis & Kathie Lee," "Entertainment Tonight" and "Good Morning America." As well as USA Today, The Los Angeles Times and People. It will reach an even wilder audience in 1998 with the release of a made-for-television movie produced by Warner Pictures for CBS Television.
Sharp's career took off in January 1997 with the success of "Nobody Knows," which held the top slot on Billboard's country singles chart for four weeks. It marked the best debut by a new male country singer in five years.
Sharp, 27, grew up in Weiser, Idaho-home of the National Fiddle Festival-in a large, musical family. Between farming chores and running the local diner, the family would sing at area church functions. They moved to Sacramento, Calif., as Sharp was entering high school. A gifted athlete, Sharp started experiencing fatigue and unexplained pain. He was a senior when doctors identified the problem-a rare form of bone cancer that had spread to his lungs. Sharp's chance of survival was slim.
Uncertain he would live six months, Sharp was introduced to the Make A Wish Foundation. They asked his heart's desire.
Sharp is a believer in the power of music. He had seen music move congregations of worshipers, bond his family together at difficult times and even inspire his high school football team. Music had always been an integral part of his life and he turned to it again. Sharp wanted to meet producer/composer/performer David Foster.
"Anything that ever touched me had something to do with-he either produced it, arranged it or performed it," Sharp says.
The relationship would sustain Sharp through two grueling years of chemotherapy, experimental drugs and radiation. Much to everyone's surprise, Sharp went into remission in 1990.
Once cancer free, Sharp focused his unbridled enthusiasm and energy on his music. He performed at the Great America Theme Park in Northern California, he started a singing telegram business and he sang at funerals. He kept recording his own demos with an eye toward a record deal.
One of his tapes landed back in Foster's hands after Foster's sister, 143 Records A&R executive Jaymes Foster, discovered it in a bin of music. She played it for producer Chris Farren (Deana Carter, Boy Howdy, Jeffrey Steele). Farren signed on. Three months later, David Foster organized a showcase for Asylum Records. The label offered Sharp a deal.
Gratitude, loyalty, obligation and honor are tenets he lives by and Sharp has not forgotten the dark days. As a spokesman for the Make A Wish Foundation, Sharp appears in national radio and television ad campaigns; he has lent his name to a research facility at the Tulane Cancer Center in New Orleans and raised Money and awareness for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. And Sharp continues his mission of creating special memories and smiles for wish kids by meeting with them during sound check when he's touring.
He's the first to tell you that he has "friends," not fans. He even changed the name of his fan club to "Friend's Club" to reflect his personal affection and appreciation for the people who enjoy his music.
And Kevin Sharp is making "friends" wherever he goes.
He has exceeded all expectations on the road. He consistently draws full houses, standing ovations and huge autograph lines. At his first self-promoted show, Sharp sold out more than 2,000 seats in less than one hour.
"It has been the best year of my life," Sharp says. "There have been so many people who have made it happen. I feel bad sometimes because I don't feel like I can give back to everyone what they've given me. Just saying 'Thank you' is probably the most important thing I want to get across in 1998. Because if it all ended, I would have a lifetime of memories."