Whether it’s overcoming a life-threatening disease, tackling a competitive career in music or simply repairing a broken-down bus, this guy is bound and determined he’s going to fix it. And the effort may not always result in a quick response, but one can bet country crooner Kevin Sharp is giving it his best shot.
Kevin has not only garnered a reputation for being one of today’s top artists in the business– turning out such hits as “Nobody Knows” and “She’s Sure Taking It Well”–but he’s also proven himself to be a winner in an even tougher business–the game of life.
While the Northern California native has undoubtedly taken on a “Mr. Fix-It” role throughout several circumstances in both his career and personal life, he doesn’t, however, claim all the credit.
“I think I’m fortunate that my parents have raised me to be that way,” explains the modest Asylum Records artist. “But even more so, I couldn’t take credit for a lot of the friends and family that I’m surrounded by that make that kind of difference in my life. They give me the strength and the courage to do the stuff that I do, and allow me to have the right attitude. I definitely wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”
Kevin’s great appreciation for a lot of things in life has become extremely meaningful. The singer is a cancer survivor who was given no chance of weathering the storm almost six years ago. His baldness is but a mute reminder of the intense radiation and chemotherapy he earlier underwent prior to going into complete remission.
Once Kevin made his musical debut, quite often he was first referred to as “that new bald guy.” For others, he fell into the sympathy case category–the “singer who had been diagnosed with bone cancer, but held onto his musical dream.” Today, Kevin is still open to discussing whatever trials he’s suffered in the past, but he also knows it’s time to move on.
In fact, it was soon after the release of his debut single, “Nobody Knows,” a country remake of the Tony Rich Project pop hit, that major networks were putting in their bids to produce a television movie about Kevin’s life-threatening climb to fame. While the opportunity seemed appropriate at the time, his feelings about the project have since then changed.
“I think it really has kind of taken that turn of events and in that order,” Kevin says of those early perceptions. “The movie is still being talked about, but it’s just not the focus anymore. I got to the point where I started thinking, ‘The tour is going great, the record is going great, and we’re getting past that story.’ It gets difficult sometimes when that’s the focus and that’s all people want to talk about. But at the same time, I don’t mind talking about it, because I feel that’s a big part of me and that it’s a part of my music. It was those stories that helped me get through those times in my life.
“But I’m really happy now and feel that we have gotten past that–and have also proven myself as a true artist. I do have something to say and I do have something to contribute to this big thing that we call country music. I’m just so grateful to be a part of it in any way.”
Still often referred to as “that bald guy,” and despite what some would describe as a negative reminder, Kevin has hardly suffered what most newcomers today encounter–an identity crisis.
“Since we’ve been on tour, people see that this bald head up on stage is the same bald head that they’ve seen on TV shows,” he admits with a laugh. “There’s no hat and I’m not hiding anything. It’s me and what they see is what they get. So I think I’ve been really well received.”
Being received favorably by the country audience has become the least of this dynamo entertainer’s worries. His live stage shows have begun riding success as much as his records have been playing on radio–a lot. Along with Kevin’s more serious traits is another level of the artist to which fans are quickly becoming tuned.
“It’s that goofy-like side that I show on stage and that will hopefully be seen in my next single, ‘If You Love Somebody.'” explains Kevin. “That’s just a side of me that I want people to see more of. That’s why I want to steer away from a lot of the other stuff,” he continues. “I felt that a TV movie–if we had done that–might throw us back to the beginning. And there is that side of me that shows that I’m a very deep and emotional person, but there’s also a side of me that’s still a five-year-old kid, too,” he laughs.
It’s the laughs, smiles and hooping good times that Kevin’s concert crowds are having that keep them coming back for more. Due to the 26-year-old’s fascination with waterguns (big waterguns), Kevin’s concert fans are getting in on the action as well.
“Instead of flowers, I get waterguns,” he chuckles. “That’s the gift I’m getting from all these different cities. I just got a new one that’s actually voice-activated and you wear it on your head. So that makes me look even more goofy. People have even started bringing plastic bags and umbrellas on the front row. It’s fun. So I know I just always need to be myself. I guess there’s a part of me that’s country music, part Carrot Top and the guy who smashes the watermelons–Gallagher.
“I haven’t come up with another word to describe it except for ‘my happy place.’ That’s where I’m just content and as happy as can be–on stage.”
For Kevin, music has long been a healer even before he realized its phenomenal strength during his illness.
“It’s been that way from as far back as I can remember,” he admits. “I think that at every point in my life, whether it was a tough time or a good time, I can almost relate it to a song that happened to be on the radio at that time. My whole life has been that way. Then when I needed it most, it was there for me again.
Kevin was auditioning for musicals by age 10 and was soon singing in various choral groups and choirs on a weekly basis. After he and his family, which consisted of seven brothers and sisters, moved to Sacramento when the young singer was 15, he became a football, wrestling and weightlifting star, as well as a devoted performer.
After experiencing bouts of mysterious fatigue and severe spasms of pain in his left leg and lower back, doctors told Kevin he was only suffering from a sports injury. He eventually dropped 20 pounds and experienced difficulty breathing. He was soon diagnosed with bone cancer that had spread to his lungs. Kevin refused to let them amputate his leg.
Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Kevin had the opportunity to meet producer/composer/performer David Foster. Their introduction quickly turned into a special friendship–allowing Kevin to eventually reveal his dream of someday singing again. A recording contract and his debut album, Measure Of A Man, followed.
Once angry at the world because of his ill health, having the opportunity to make music again changed both Kevin’s life and his health.
“I still feel like I’m dreaming sometimes, but I hope it continues,” he admits. “I’ve yet to come up with a word that describes exactly how all this feels. It all feels so magical and unreal that it’s almost like an out-of-body experience or a dream that I’m watching as if I’m seeing it happen to a friend of mine. I just hope that never changes, because it keeps everything really in perspective.”
And whenever possible, if there are children or patients in a nearby hospital that could use a little cheering up–especially those who’ve encountered similar situations as Kevin’s–he tries to fix it by paying them a visit and offering them some hope.
In addition to working on his sophomore album for Asylum Records, Kevin is now an official spokesperson for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.