Aside from well-known jazz artists, were there any unconventional or unexpected influences that drew you into the jazz scene? Could you share a specific example of how one of these influences impacted your musical journey? Sharon: For me, jazz is the combination of melody, harmony and emotion. Growing up as a child with a rich emotional life, jazz was a wonderful outlet for my feelings and my imagination. I grew up listening to my parent's jazz records-- and each song was a story or a scene that I could fully see as I listened to the music. It just felt like jazz was my emotional and imaginative playground. I could imagine full-on stories... and when I began singing and listening to great artists like Sarah Vaughan and Nancy Wilson, I felt their emotions deeply. And that wealth of emotion matched min.
You mentioned that jazz offers a unique relationship between the singer and the band, creating an interplay that keeps each performance fresh and alive. Can you recall a memorable moment during a live performance where this interplay led to an unexpected and magical musical moment?
Sharon: On a restaurant gig, someone requested the song "Summertime." That is a well-known and often-played song. So, we decided to do it in a different way-- to add a little something to it. So, my bass player came up with this funky rhythm. It was cool and sexy. Then the drummer joined in, adding his little flavor, and some great touches that just drove the beat that the bass created... Then keys came in with a counter melody! It was so hot, like Summer. What these guys laid down was so solid and sexy and different! So, I picked it up and just SANG! It was so magical. The music transported me to another land. Somewhere Humid and rural with lots of trees. Like a jungle. And the entire band went to that magical place for the six-and-a-half-minute version of "Summertime." And when we were done, the audience was screaming and giving us a standing ovation -- in the restaurant! It was a wonderful synergistic moment. Wish we had videotaped it.
Having a five-octave vocal range is truly remarkable. How does this wide range influence your creative choices when interpreting songs? Can you share an example of a song where you've utilized this range to convey a particularly powerful message or emotion? Sharon: I haven't recorded this song. But I sing it in rehearsal- "With Every Breath I Take." It's a Cy Coleman song. Low, Low, Low tones that express the deep longing of the song to the high notes at the bridge that express her desire and the possibility of her dream coming true. And then back to the low slow long tones that, for me, express her determination to have what she desires. Tone -- how one uses tone is how one creates a connection with the audience. It is how you communicate an emotion. Whether it is high or low, the tone lands in the body of the listener to communicate something very personal. I am blessed to have a wide range of tones to communicate with. My original song, "Sugar On My Lips," plays with my range. It is a sexy song expressing about the kiss of a lover. The low notes express just how sweet those kisses are. You can listen to that song online. It is on my This Is Where I Wanna Be album. Achieving and maintaining such a broad vocal range requires both natural ability and dedicated effort. Could you elaborate on your vocal training regimen and daily practices that have contributed to your range's development and consistency? Sharon: Well, I studied music -- classical voice -- in college. That training required many many many hours in vocal rooms... doing scales. singing arias, and phrases of songs to find the right placement, to get the song just right. So, it is fair to say, that I came to my career with an abundance of training behind me and a regimen I keep til today. I sing every day. Whether it is doing scales or singing vocal phrases. Where I place my voice determines the quality of the tone and the emotion the tone inspires. I learned that by practicing and getting to know my voice. And also by challenging my voice to go higher and lower than I thought it could. Where I go in my range is led by emotion. For me, the different aspects of my voice communicate different things-- the pain and depth or sexiness of my low tones to the joy and freedom of my higher range. It all starts with communication for me.
The music industry can be challenging, especially for new and innovative talents. Can you share a particular instance where you encountered a significant challenge and how you managed to overcome it to continue pursuing your passion for jazz music? Sharon: I guess I would say that challenge is constant for innovative independent artists. Whether it be that club owners are looking for you to sound like or be like other acts, or to fill their room with only your fans and mailing list, the challenge for me is to remain true to myself. Sing the music that is authentically me. To be clear about my message and to connect with my audience no matter how loud the room is, how dark the room is how small the room is. I find that place where I connect and communicate. And I resist trying to be someone else. And I perform the music that is me.
Your dreams as a jazz musician range from performing at the Hollywood Bowl to collaborating with renowned artists and having your songs featured in movies. If you could envision your ideal scenario for one of these dreams becoming a reality, what would that experience look and feel like for you? Sharon: I am looking for my community of artists-- like "hearted" artists-- who are established in the musical world and perform worldwide. I'd like to get into the studio with these artists and create music. Something new, from the heart. Something that transports one -- kind of like what we created with that version of Summertime I shared. In these collaborations, I believe, we will find something that people will really connect with... and the new sound will become popular... we will record songs that will be placed in movies. And we will do concerts around the world in beautiful landmark venues... like the Hollywood Bowl. But, it all begins with finding the right community of heart-focused artists with a similar vision-- spreading love around the world. That would feel like I am living my purpose. You have a series of upcoming performances at various venues. Is there a specific routine or mindset you prepare to ensure that each performance is unique and leaves a lasting impact on your audience? Sharon: There are so many beautiful venues I am lucky to perform at. It would be unfair to name favorites. They all provide something special. Whether it be the location, the staff, the sound system and stage, the audiences... All of these contribute to a wonderful night of music. Please check my website to see where and when I will be performing next: www.sharonmariecline.com
I meditate every day. And I pray every day. I do this to be as clear and as authentic as possible for how I show up in my life, how I show up in my shows, and how I show up for each song I sing. So, every performance is different because I am fully present to how I feel, what is happening around and how the music is flowing. And I connect with my audience as best I can in every situation I am in. Collaborating with other artists can bring fresh perspectives to your music. If you could choose one artist, regardless of genre, to collaborate with on a jazz project, who would it be and why? How do you imagine your styles merging to create something exceptional? Sharon: Gregory Porter. I'd love to collaborate with him. He is such a powerful performer with a rich deep voice. I feel like we would sound good together. Our voices would blend well. As you continue to build your career in jazz, what message would you like to convey to your fans and those who appreciate your unique musical approach? Is there a core message or feeling you hope your music imparts to them? Sharon: My music and my shows are about love. Romantic love, brotherly love, spiritual love-- the highs and the lows of Love. I used to call my concerts love fests! They are about reawakening the heart--- a memory or an inspiration. The band and I create an environment, musically, for the audience to meet us in. An environment of joy and love. It is a magical thing. My motto is to navigate with your heart... And love will follow. I believe that when you lead with the pure intention of your heart it is contagious! And Your destination and the journey toward your destination are rich with fulfillment. Imagine a world with people living where they are fulfilled -- vibrating from such a vibrant place. If our movements, our motivations came from the Heart.
Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences, Sharon. Your journey in jazz music, along with your exceptional vocal range, brings a fresh and dynamic dimension to the genre.