The Music Makers
The diversity of music in Delaware is best defined not as a
collective force but by the contributions made by one artist at a time. Meet some of the local musicians who give us music we love.
By Richard L. Gaw Published March 16, 2010 at 10:44 AM
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You’re siting in a nosebleed seat at the Wachovia Center or, worse, in the section of Lincoln Financial Field generally reserved for upper-level goonery. You look down to see the headliner—a distant dot—and estimate that you may be one-quarter of a mile away, sitting in a plastic seat, holding a ticket stub that just set you back half a week’s salary.
Following are profiles of musicians who are the antithesis of the big, impersonal shows that often define contemporary music. They do not play to spectacle and pageantry. They are not famous, rich or ride in the cushy separateness of private aircraft. They sit on stools at festivals and churches and cafés. They light up our nights at seaside bars. They tour in cars. They sing songs with such intimacy, it feels as if they are directing their lyrics straight at you. They give us music we love, and when they perform, we share their air.
The diversity of music in Delaware is best defined not as a collective force but by contributions made by one artist at a time. These are their stories. (See the Web Exclusives portion of this site for additional profiles.)
The Instrument | Sharon Sable
She is bluesy yet coquettish, her phrasing and pitch perfect as she lacquers a Van Morrison tune with a voice of butter and whiskey. Stay with me, it implores.
I’ll take you somewhere. Sharon Sable’s journey was never intended to lead here, singing jazz at small clubs. She wanted stardom. But that doesn’t always prove to be the life you envisioned.
A student of voice, Sable performed in high school as part of a trio. During a showcase for Q102, the group, called Choice, caught the attention of people in the music industry. Then Sable and two replacements moved to Atlanta, where they worked with Grammy-winning producer-songwriter Babyface. Stardom seemed to be in reach.
But for the two years there, Sable felt as if she were living someone else’s dream. The music sounded contrived, formulaic. “I remember feeling, ‘How did this happen?’” she says. “I worked hard to get there, but once I was actually there, it never felt like any of it was mine. I was being pressured to be someone I was not.”
The producers eventually singled out one girl, Alecia Moore, who would achieve worldwide fame as the performer Pink. But by then, Sable had found a new love. She listened to Nina Simone, Chet Baker, the songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim. She went to Italy to record background vocals for international pop artists. Everything melded—the music, her vocals, the hearts of the musicians she was getting to know. “I was in a place of healing after Choice ended,” Sable says. “The music had beaten me up, but through it I was able to find my true voice.”
Sable has begun to record an album in a modest studio in the Wilmington home of guitarist Shawn Qaissaunee. She also performs up to six times a week, playing with Qaissaunee and others at Deep Blue and Gallucio’s. “Jazz is knowing yourself, to be comfortable enough to think of your voice as just one instrument among many,” she says. “I’m in awe of the common thread heard between a singer, the drummer, the guitarist and the other musicians. There is so much baring of the soul, but in the end, the music gets to touch people.”
Page 2: The Jazz Man | Bruce Anthony