Sharrie Williams • Tearing Down Walls, Building Musical Bridges

The Princess of the Rockin' Blues Returns (Though She Never Really Left)

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, , National Music, Artist Feature,   From Issue 900   By: Robert E Martin

05th August, 2020     0

Of all the notable contemporary Blues artists that have emanated out of the Great Lakes Bay Region, over the expanse of her career only Sharrie Williams has achieved such a high-level of hard-earned international acclaim to warrant the crown as the ‘Princess of the Rockin’ Gospel Blues.'

Poised to issue a new album of original material at her Intimate CD Release Party on Saturday, August 22nd, Sharrie has released five albums, toured over 30 countries internationally, earned awards and critical acclaim, and entertained crowds in the tens of thousands - a stunning level of accomplishment for a woman who was raised in the Daniel Heights projects of Saginaw, began singing in church choir at the age of 7, and by the age of 12 was performing with such acts as The Winans.

Her last album, Out of the Dark, went on to win the 2012 Blues Album of the Year Award from the prestigious L’Academie du Jazz in Paris; and she has collaborated and appeared with the likes of such luminaries as Buddy Guy, Van Morrison, Dizzy Gillespie, Sugar Blue, and Joanna Connor,  to name but a few.

In 1996 Sharrie started singing with the house band at Wiseguys,  where she met and fell in love with owner Norman ‘Pops’ Crawford,  whom she married in 1998 and who became a formidable force in both her personal and professional life, helping to pilot her career as manager, confidant, and ally throughout her life’s journey until his passing last year.

Sharrie first surfaced upon the regional Mid-Michigan scene with the band Blues Controversy back in the early ‘90s and with the Wiseguys Band made her big break by performing at legendary Chicago Blues venues Kingston Mines and Buddy Guy’s Legends.   But it wasn’t until 1998 when she flew over the pond to Europe where she made her major breakthrough with sold-out performances in Germany, Holland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Canada, and Great Britain.

Throughout all her personal and professional trials and tribulations, Sharrie still retains a warm and charismatic persona that years of spiritual evolution have nourished and cultivated into a deeply affected and purposeful adult - a formidable artist that is a synthesis between a little girl singing Diana Ross and Michael Jackson songs in her mirror with dreams of fame, fortunate, and respect dancing in her head, blended with the personal challenges of an older and wiser woman who has seen and experienced heartache and loss and needs to communicate a message of hope and promise through the magic of her music.

Sharrie Williams speaks softly and sings with passion and authority. She is a sweet, polite individual that in many ways is a walking contradiction to the depth of expression and power of voice she presents onstage and in her recordings.

With her first single from the new album, which is titled Walls currently available for viewing on youtube, Sharrie says she been working on this new collection of material for three years now.  “In the middle of recording this project, my husband ‘Pops’ passed away, his brother passed away, one of my closest friends passed away, and my dog passed away, so it’s been crazy in terms of the challenges that I’ve had to overcome,” she reflects.

“It’s hard to write and create when you are in pain, but some songs come right away when you are in that type of emotional state. Other songs you have to wait to write until your brain clears up; but one of the songs I wrote - the new single called Walls talks about walls of racism, religion, relationships, and how we need to tear them down, so I feel my music is evolving.  Pops played a major part in my life and was always pushing me in my music, so I don’t like to say ‘I’m back’ because I never really left, but finally after all these years, I’m back!”

When asked to distinguish these new recordings from her previous endeavors, Sharrie says she feels they are more thought provoking.

“The world is in trouble right now, so I’m approaching many different topics thematically within the framework of my Rockin’ Gospel Blues type of style.  I have one song on this new release titled Moving Forward, and it’s my Tina Turner song,  because I thought of her when I wrote it - moving forward to find my way to the next level or the next journey or chapter of my life. You’ve gotta keep moving forward. It’s a fight to get around our obstacles in life, but I’m up for a fight. Everything worthwhile is a fight.”

“While a majority of the material on this new release is all original, when I record I usually do one traditional song and this time around I’m featuring The Beatles and doing my own version of Don’t Bring Me Down.  I love that song and decided to sing it because of Pops - he was a good man.”

Needless to say, this is the time of year when Sharrie would normally be touring Germany and Europe, but with the COVID-19 crisis locking down life as we know it for the past five months, Sharrie has been focusing on other pursuits. “Actually, I really stopped much of my touring the last couple of years because Pops was sick and I couldn’t be on the road. I needed to care for him; and now we have the coronavirus to deal with.”

“Consequently, during this quarantine period I’ve been doing a lot of writing and am working on my autobiography, which I’m calling Legacy of Love,” continues Sharrie. “I’ve also been committed to getting healthy and losing weight.  One of the ways I’m coping with this pandemic has been to bike ride every Monday and I was also working at the YMCA teaching water aerobics; but that was shut down, so now I’ve been doing virtual exercise session online on Facebook.  People have been giving me money and stuff to my keep my cash up, which has been really cool. Since committing myself to this exercise regimen I’ve probably lost a hundred pounds and feel great!”

“This was a journey Pops and I decided when he got sick awhile back,” states Sharrie. “He said to me, “Sharrie you don’t want to have heart disease. I love you the way you are, but you need to take better care of yourself. He’s the only person that could say that to me and now when I look at old photos I realize how really overweight I was, only I didn’t feel overweight. He told me, ‘You’ve got to get healthy’. He didn’t say skinny, but he did say healthy. How was I to know he was going to leave me after I lost all this weight. Now sometimes I think, Why’d you leave me so soon? What’s wrong with you, man!”

For the new CD Release Party on August 22nd Sharrie says because of the current pandemic and fact that people cannot go to any clubs or venues, she had to figure out how to deal with situation regarding the release of her new album. 

“Something came over me and I suddenly realized that the best way to do this was to have an event at my home,” she relates. “I have a big nice backyard so can socially distance people and I’m calling this event An Intimate Evening with Sharrie’.  I’ll be performing with my band and we’ll feature nice food and drinks and are charging only $25.00.  The show will start at 6:00 PM and run until 8:30 pm and people should bring their own lawn chairs. Tickets will be available online, or people can contact me directly through my facebook page. The evening of the event tickets will be $30.00.”

“What’s difficult about this pandemic is that people are all out of work so we need to do things to keep our minds occupied,” she concludes. “Such an important part of music is the process of connecting with people.  I was doing my aerobics class every day online, but got bored with it because all I’m doing really is taking to my phone and computer without having any feedback.  The same is true with artists. It’s hard to do music and stay focused without an audience because we feed on the energy and nourishment of our audience.”

“That’s why I am staging this intimate evening. I need to have an audience.” 

Here's a link to Sharrie's new single, 'Walls'.

 

 

 

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