Sherry Lynn Biography
Last updated: 04/20/2013 08:08:56 AM
It’s not often that a movie transforms your life—but one did Sherry Lynn’s. Suddenly and in a big way.
"My mother really loved country music," Sherry recalls. "But I’ll be honest, when I was young I didn’t. You know how kids are. It was like, "Turn that off, Mom! I don’t want to hear it.’"
But all that changed within a single day, Sherry explains: "Mom brought home a copy of the Coal Miner’s Daughter movie, and I fell in love with Loretta Lynn. I watched that movie so many times I think I broke the tape. I would sit there staring at it, holding my hair brush ‘microphone,’ just like so many little girls do, and I’d sing every song word-for-word. I could even recite most of the movie word-for-word, too. So, when I was still little, that’s what I decided to do—be just like Loretta Lynn."
Sherry’s come a long way toward achieving that goal. Ted Hewitt, the studio wizard who produced Rodney Atkins’ recent string of hits, was so impressed by Sherry’s strong, urgent voice and polished stage presence, that he produced her first album, It’s A Woman Thing, in 2008. Now he’s busy completing her follow-up album, So Much More, which will be in record stores and on the internet this summer.
A sure way of telling if a new artist has star quality is to look at the prominence of the songwriters who allow the artist to record their songs. Sherry scores impressively here. Among the many notables who’ve contributed to So Much More are Jamie O’Neal, co-writer and artist of the 2000 hit, "There Is No Arizona"; Kelley Lovelace and Ashley Gorley, co-writers of Brad Paisley’s chart-topping "American Saturday Night" and "Start A Band" Wil Nance, co-writer of George Strait’s No. 1 "Round About Way"; and Sandy Ramos, co-writer of the Lee Greenwood standard, "We’ve Got It Made."
Sherry grew up in Clayton, New Jersey. "It was a really small town about 25 minutes from Philadelphia," she says. "There was just one stoplight. You could walk everywhere, and everybody there knew everybody else." In spite of her determination to be the next Loretta Lynn, Sherry was reluctant in high school to parade her talent. "I acted in plays and sang in the chorus," she says. "But I would never try out for lead singer because I was nervous. Everything I did musically was in a group."
After she left school, however, she started going with her friends to karaoke bars. "They would push me to get up and sing," she says. "I was still nervous, but one night I decided, ‘I’m just going to get up and do it.’" The song she selected to sing was that notorious vocal workout, "How Do I Live," the song made famous by two of the strongest, most distinctive vocalists in country music, LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood. "Afterward, when people started clapping," she remembers, "I thought, ‘Well, that wasn’t so bad.’"
Before long, Sherry was rocking or romancing the karaoke crowd with her custom-crafted covers of Reba McEntire and Lorrie Morgan hits. She became so popular that some of her friends and newly cultivated fans pleaded for her to record particular songs so they could play her versions of them in their cars. Flattered though she was by these requests, Sherry wasn’t sure it was something she should do. "I have to know about things before I do them," she says. "So I started looking into the rules about singing other people’s songs. I knew there had to be laws about it."
Sherry’s curiosity and determination to do the right thing convinced her that if she was going to pursue a career in music she had to learn how the music business operates. In the course of backgrounding herself, she discovered online songwriting sites and was soon collaborating online with other songwriters. One of these was a Florida composer named Eden Langworthy. He had Nashville contacts he offered to share with her. "You’ve got to go to Nashville," he insisted. So she did. "I took some music I’d recorded to Nashville," says Sherry, "and Eden introduced me to Ted Hewitt."
Another break came when a promoter for the Broadway Theater in Pitman, New Jersey invited Sherry to open there for Sammy Kershaw. She agreed instantly, then realized that although she had sung and recorded to musical tracks before, she had never actually sung live with a band. That didn’t stop her. She flew to Nashville, recruited some session players, rehearsed them for a couple of days, then brought them to New Jersey and did the show. It may have been a loss financially, but it gave her the experience and stature to open shows later for the likes of Gene Watson, B. J. Thomas and, best of all, Crystal Gayle, Sherry’s idol’s sister. "Crystal Gayle is the most amazing person I’ve ever met," she says. "After the show, she and her husband stuck around, and we talked and took pictures. She was so down-to-earth, so real. They had TV monitors downstairs [in the green room] and she sat and actually watched my performance."
Bigger venues lay ahead for Sherry. In 2007, she got a last-minute call to sing the national anthem at Citizen’s Bank Park for the New York Mets-Philadelphia Phillies game. It was a sellout crowd of more than 45,000. She thought she’d gotten past her nervousness until she arrived at the stadium and discovered that Tim McGraw, another of her heroes, was there to throw out the first pitch. It was a scary thing, knowing that McGraw would be listening to her. But by then she had put some miles behind her, and her performance was splendid. Loretta Lynn would have been proud.