Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in music.
I grew up listening to great music. My mother used to play recordings every afternoon when I came home from school… and on Saturdays while we did our chores. So the house was always filled with the sounds of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, the Great Sarah Vaughn, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington, Nancy Wilson and so many great icons performing the rich and colorful songs of the American Song book… I never asked my mother why she loved that music so
I guess, ‘cuz I didn’t need to. It was obvious: the music filled your heart, caressed your soul… No matter what mood you were in it touched you right where you were… and made whatever mundane task (you may be engaging in) suddenly a new adventure thru the journey of the song…. As a child, I fell in love with this music…. These songs inspired my imagination to create so many stories sparked by the emotion of the songs, the poignancy of the lyrics and the heart with which they were performed…. I was Flyin’ to The Moon with Frank, I was swingin’ on a star with Ella, took the A Train some days with Ellington’s crew and some days with Anita O Day and had no idea where it’d take me… But boy, was I onboard!!!!! The music stirred my passion and my imagination, even as a child, and I just knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. And I knew I wanted to do whatever I had to do to do it well. So, I studied hard and I practiced hard.
I was quiet as a child. Introspective… and my mother introduced me to music and theatre as a way to draw me out… as an outlet for the deep expression that I guess she knew was inside me… I’ve always felt things deeply… She was very wise to give me such a wonderful tool to express my passion. My music heals me constantly and it makes me giddy constantly… and I like to pass that soothing, joyful gift on to others as often as I can.
What do you enjoy most about your profession and why did you choose it in the first place? What was the inspiration for your company/project?
I love jazz in particular because it truly is a collaborative art that requires interplay on every level– between each musician…. Between audience and band…between the individual musician and their soul’s expression… between lyric and melody for vocal jazz and melody and harmony for all jazz. Every song, every time it is performed is a new extraordinary creation of art… I love that! I love being a part of the creative process this way!
I may sing the same song every night…. But it is NEVER the same because I am authentically present each time I sing. I first listen to my being and what I am called to express, then I listen to my fellow musician, what they are offering musically in the moment, I feel my response and what that creates and then I offer my next expression and on and on…. Jazz is very improvisational in that way. Though there is wonderful structure, there is room for great freedom… of expression.
Also, one of the beautiful things about music is that it is so powerful! It communicates on levels beyond words…. I’ve watched people transform in front of my eyes while we perform. Someone may come in in a bad mood, down on life, heavy with burden, and as they hear the music, their load lightens… even if just for a minute. It’s so extraordinary! And so fun to witness!
There’s also a kind of common language between musicians in jazz… That makes you feel very communal. You can get up on the bandstand with virtual strangers you just met off the street and make beautiful music together as if you had been playing together your entire life. We just connect thru our love and appreciation for the music.
I also own my own business as a music contractor, Jazz Celebrations… Meaning I supply high quality live music for special events… Whether it be a wedding –ceremony or reception, retirement party, art exhibit, a grand awards ceremony or an intimate dinner party. I provide the music for the event. I call it the Live Sound Track for life’s Special Occasions. Through my business, I can keep a lot of very talented musicians working and sharing their talent and provide clients with professional quality concert level music… literally in their own living room! Though Jazz Celebrations specializes in all styles of jazz from Dixieland and Speakeasy jazz to Big Band Swing to Latin Jazz to Contemporary Jazz, I can provide most any style of music for a party. I like to meet with the client, discuss their vision for the party and design the music for their event from there.
What has been the most profound result being a musician specifically a women in Jazz?
The most profound experience for me as a musician is the impact and joy music brings to people’s lives. I love being consciously aware of that interconnectedness we all have. Recently, we performed at a convalescent VA hospital in Westwood, CA. As we began to play the old familiar songs of the patients’ childhood, it brought such joy to their faces… and I swear, they got younger and healthier before my eyes… I love taking them back to their joy! It is so beautiful to watch someone remember a special time… It’s an honor to be a part of that remembrance.
I get to meet extraordinary people, perform in beautiful often breathtaking environments, wear amazing clothes… beautiful gowns, and jewelry…. Really get to express what its like to feel like a goddess or diva or queen, like every woman should get to feel …. When I do private events, I get to share in people’s most precious special occasions and hopefully leave them with a beautiful memory thru the music we’ve shared.
As a female bandleader, I get to exhibit leadership in a very feminine way… through cooperation and thru accentuating the strengths of each of my band members. We truly are co creatively working together and as I respect each member of my team, I encourage them to be the best they can be for me ,for themselves and for our client. We all respect each other.
As a business owner, I make sure my musicians are treated well, paid well, respected and are respectful and most importantly, I make sure we leave our clients smiling… I’m like the mama of the event… Well, maybe the big sister of the event!
Tell us about any new projects you have coming up (or recently completed).
Right now, I am working on a new album entitled, “This Is Where I Wanna Be”. I’m hoping to release it this summer. The songs I’m choosing for the album are all songs of romance– Lush, flirty, content, sensual, dreamy, Heart Nouriishing… That is Where I Wanna Be…
The songs range from brazilian jazz of Jobim to ]the whistful sentient of Gershwin standards and then the more rhythmic soulful groove of Ivan Lins’ “Love Dance”. I’m excited about this album… It’s a feel good record!
What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome?
I think as an artist, we are always overcoming our self doubt and we are always taking the risk to bear our souls and individuality. It’s not always easy to do what you love just because you love it and believe in it when it isn’t paying the bills and every one tries to get you to conform and jump on the bandwagon of whatever popular trend is leading the day that is much more lucrative. Not everyone encourages this music. And many people have tried to tell me different ways I need to perform to be more current and “marketable” to main stream America. I have fought hard to be true to myself and really take the time to find my own voice within this genre… and it’s developing more everyday…. I’m glad I didn’t listen to others and hang it up for R&B or Pop… And I have taken the time to really embody the music I sing and I sing these old standards my way… And people are moved by the purity of that. But it was a risk… and I have to keep reassuring myself that I am on the right track for me as an artist.
From where do you draw inspiration? Who have been your role models, mentors, etc?
I call my mentors– Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O Day, Chet Baker, Barbra Steisand, Diana Krall, Shirley Horn…. But there are many many current artists I draw upon for inspiration. There is so much amazing talent out there… Some are unknown names, but big talent. I listen to a lot people. Vocalists and instrumentalists.
What do you do to keep yourself sharp? What one thing have you done in the past year that has made a significant difference in your life/your business?
I practice, I go out and listen to other artists, I listen to recordings of my musical mentors, I take workshops that challenge me as a performer, as a musician…. I keep learning and absorbing. I am an eternal student. And I have curiosity…. And I want to keep growing as an artist.
I also know how to nurture myself. I feel that is important as an artist. To not only feed myself with knowledge and music but to take care of myself as a person and care for my being. After all, as a vocalist, I am my instrument. So, staying tuned means, I eat well, I rest, I take time for my internal space, I exercise, I play, I laugh and I explore…..
What one thing would you like to learn this year?
How to get a distribution deal for my record! And I want to just keep learning!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Making music, traveling the world performing in beautiful spots, singing with fantastic musicians, being critically recognized with a growing huge fan base, making sound tracks for movies, doing more interviews, exploring my craft even more deeply… Oh, and a grammy nomination would be nice too!
What do you do for fun/relaxation/entertainment?
I actually really know how to pamper myself…. I don’t know if I should admit that I get 1-2 massages a week… especially hour long foot massages… I take long hot bathes by candle light, go to the spa, get pedicures twice a month and walk on the beach as often as I can.(not too hard. I live a block fro the beach).
I meditate, spend quiet time a lot. It nourishes me and keeps me in touch with my inner muse and wisdom.
For fun: I love going to the movies… I go out to hear live theatre and live music, going to fun restaurants, traveling, and I love spending time with my family laughing!!!
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I think I have babbled on enough!!! I love what I do. Like my facebook page says: My Heart Song is looking for greater and greater expression…
I’m ready world. Here I AM!!!!
What’s the best way for our readers to connect with you?
NOTE: Sharon Marie Cline is one of 14 women in music that WE interviewed for the WE Magazine for Women in Music Spring 2011 Issue. You can read more about these Women in music by visiting: http://www.staging.wemagazineforwomen.com/pdfs/2011WEMagSpring.pdf