Kevin Sharp, who scored a No. 1 hit in 1996 with “Nobody Knows,” died Saturday night (April 19) at age 43 following a lengthy battle with cancer.
“Kevin died due to ongoing complications from past stomach surgeries and digestive issues,” according to an announcement on his website.
“Nobody Knows,” which spent four weeks atop the Billboard country chart, was a cover of the Tony Rich Project’s pop hit, but his optimistic attitude as a cancer survivor gained him even more national attention.
Born Dec. 10, 1970, in Weiser, Idaho, Sharp was an 18-year-old high school senior basketball player who sang baritone in the Sacramento Light Opera Association in California when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer. While undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, he was contacted by the Make-a-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit organization which grants wishes to seriously-ill youth. He told the organization’s representative he would like to meet famed record producer David Foster. He and the producer had several conversations.
After Sharp’s cancer went into remission in 1991, Foster heard his demo and told the young singer to continue working on his career. Sharp performed at a California theme park and recorded an album titled You Can Count on Me. Through Foster, Sharp was eventually signed to Nashville-based Asylum Records.
Sharp’s 1996 major label debut album, Measure of a Man, featured “Nobody Knows.” The project was certified gold by the RIAA in 1997 after selling more than 500,000 copies. The album netted two additional Top 5 singles, “She’s Sure Taking It Well” and “If You Love Somebody.”
His album credits also include 1998’s Love Is (Asylum) and 2005’s Make a Wish (Cupit Records). “If She Only Knew,” released in 1998, was his last single to hit the Billboard country chart.
Throughout his career, Sharp continued to work closely with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and became one of its leading spokespersons. More recently, Sharp was a motivational speaker, touring throughout the U.S. to tell others of the struggles he overcame to succeed in the music business.
In lieu of flowers, Sharp’s family requests that memorial donations be made to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.