Kevin Sharp - Backchat
First Published in Country Music International – July 1998
Juggling a successful career as a country singer while coming to terms with cancer is no mean feat, but Kevin Sharp continues to record and perform while leading his support to children’s charities like the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a singer?
As far back as I can remember. I have always known that this is something I wanted to do. I come from a musical family. My dad did a lot of performing, and it was something he wanted to do full-time, but I guess raising eight kids took up a lot of his time. We played a lot of community events as a family band, mainly in churches, so I guess that was the real beginning of all this.
Which singers inspired you back in those days?
The first album I bought was Glen Campbell’s RHINESTONE COWBOY, but I also loved Kenny Rogers, John Denver, Billy Joel and Barry Manilow. I think Manilow is an amazing writer and has one of the purest voices. I have most of his records.
Who has been the biggest influence on your music?
Without a doubt that would have to be David Foster. I’m one of those people who always looks at the credits at the end of the movie, and it seems that he wrote some of the best songs used in films. His music has meant so much to me. Every time I broke up with a girlfriend or got dumped, there was always a song on the radio that helped me get through it. And most times it seemed that he was either the writer or producer on the record.
You had early aspirations to become involved in sport and athletics. How did the realisation that you couldn’t pursue that affect you?
I actually planned on attending college on a scholarship, but I was sick my whole senior year. Previously I had played just about every sport, right through the year. I'd just graduated from high school and was ready to conquer the world. I really thought I was invincible, but I learned real quickly that none of us are. I was devastated and angry and bitter when I realised that I'd never play football or basketball again, but music got me through those tough times.
Is there one song that has a real special meaning to you?
Of course there’s Nobody Knows, but there’s also another one, Barry Manilow’s Please Don’t Be Scared. It seems as if that was written just for me. I sang that at a lot of functions for kids. Even now, I will pull it out and listen to it. It was one of those songs that did a lot of healing for me.
On reflection, how do you feel about rejecting Clear Blue Sky for your first album?
I really follow my heart and gut instinct when listening to songs, and that song just didn’t connect with me then. I have followed my gut instinct on other ones, and it turned out right. I feel that there are songs available that are written for Kevin Sharp, and that’s what I always look for.
How do you find life on the road?
It's all new to me and very tiring, but I love it. The bus is like a locker room. When I was younger, playing football, I never thought for one minute that I'd spend my life in a locker room. But that’s what it feels like on the bus. There are ten guys on there in each other’s pocket.
Why do you do such crazy things on stage?
When I'm out there in front of an audience, I forget about the pain and just want to entertain the fans. I'm quickly reminded of it the next morning. I don’t think I've ever really grown up. I don’t know where I get that. I guess it’s just something I've always wanted to hang on to, and of course even now I spend a lot of time around kids. I guess I'm just a big kid myself.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Having the Wishgranter Of The Year bestowed on me by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That came about because of a brave little boy named Matthew. He gave me the most valuable thing I will ever get in life. He wanted to meet the guy that sang Nobody Knows. He didn’t know my name or that I'd had cancer. He just loved the song and wanted to meet me. He was just eight years old. He died two days later.
What can listeners expect from the new album?
I made MEASURE OF A MAN the way I wanted it. This new album will be just like the first. The honesty will stick out. I have to believe in what I sing. A big part of what I try to do through my music is to show the importance of loving one another, because I truly believe that love is all that really matters. That’s what I hope to achieve with my music, so there are going to be a lot of love songs on there.
What does the future hold for Kevin Sharp?
I have aspirations to act, to be in TV and movies, and also in theatre. With the music, I would love eventually to have a Greatest Hits album. Also, I dream of one day becoming a high school football coach. I just love the sport and would like to think I could contribute in some small way.