My name is SharaLee and I’m a Canadian Soul singer and songwriter. I was named after the 80’s Christian singer, Sharalee Lucas. I suppose you could say music is in the fabric of my name. I grew up in a musical family and made my first appearance on the church stage at the age of five, with my mom accompanying me in harmony. Many family gatherings were filled with music and everyone played an instrument or sang.
I was also in choir at school, however, I was teased for being too loud and twangy. My earliest musical influences were from my grandparents and extended family. They listened to and played country, bluegrass and gospel music. All I knew was to mimic what I heard. I was given solos to sing in choir, but I never really felt accepted as a singer or musician in school. I sang in church choir for a short time as well, but again never really felt like I belonged. I became quite self conscious of my voice. I denied any interest in singing when asked, but behind closed doors I sang at the top of my lungs.
My dad started calling me the “singing frog” from the classic Loonie Toon cartoons where the frog performs for just his owner, but when brought into public he would just ribbitt. Then one day my dad brought home a Whitney Houston tape. I had never heard anyone sing like her before, and something came alive in me. But I still kept it to myself and continued to sing in private.
Several years after I graduated high school, I was driving with my boyfriend at that time, and singing along to the radio. He asked if I had ever considered singing professionally. Again it stirred something in me. It wasn’t long after, that he booked a recording session for me at his friend’s place, who happened to be a producer. There I recorded my first demo album covering a couple of country songs and one worship song from church.
I had great response to my album and was encouraged to go to Nashville to further my career.
In 2005 my mom and I did finally get to go to Nashville to meet with some industry professionals and record in their studios. I recorded my first demo of original songs from local Nashville songwiters. The country single called “Lovi’n A Good Man Tonight” was featured on a Ladies Truck’n compilation album sold at Walmart and truck stops across Canada and the US.
At this point I wanted to start exploring deeper into musical styles and those that influenced me growing up. In the summer of 2007, back in Canada, I met up with Vancouver producer Mike Nowak of Saga Recording Studio. There I recorded a demo of original Contemporary Christian and worship songs from writers across the US. “I Run To You” written by Anita Cantrall was picked up by a distributor and played on Christian radio stations across the US and was included on the Extreme Tour (Christian music festival) compilation album.
I had explored both Country and Christian music genres and was content singing songs other people had written. Although deep down, I knew something was missing.
In the summer of 2014 I met Canadian music veteran, Norm Robideaux. He took me under his wing and began encouraging me to have a writing voice of my own. And he was right, I did have something to say!
“Postcards” was my first self penned album. Norm, who along with his band had planned an international tour for the album. Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen circumstances, this tour was cancelled before the album was completed. Despite the set back, this was a monumental turning point in my musical journey. I was immensely proud of myself for writing my first full, original album. Although it would be several years still, and a lot of self discovery before really figuring myself out. I knew I had not only a voice, but something to say with that voice.
I continued to write and listen to different styles of music, but I began to feel pigeon- holed in music style because what I had recorded in the past. I continually found myself listening to genres that weren’t country or Contemporary Christian. They were R&B and Soul music. I knew deep down that I had to explore that genre.
In the Spring of 2015, I teamed up with songwriter/producer Mark Zubek (Grammy-winner Betty Carter) and co-wrote the single “Together Again”. The song is an R&B/gospel approach and a tinge of Country thrown in the mix – “Together Again” is a resurgence of my church roots. The single won an Akademia Award for Best R&B/Soul song. This would mark the beginning of finding a home in a musical genre.
Becoming ever aware of the growing opportunities for artists to license music for ads and TV/Film, I took the following year to study in a music licensing mentorship to learn how to create and license highly syncable songs, which was a total game changer in the way I approach songwriting.
I have since found musical chemistry with a great team of composers, producers and engineers and I’m continually growing my catalogue of music. I enjoy and appreciate a variety of genres and I’ll never pass up the opportunity for an interesting co-write or collaboration . But at the end of the day, I always returns to the classic sound of Soul music. It’s been said of me numerous times that I have an old soul. I hope it comes through in every song I write and every word I sing.