Sherreece - An Inspired Singer/Songwriter!
In recent years artists such as Creed, P.O.D., and Jars of Clay have brought new credibility to Christian rock by applying to studio recording and live performance the sophisticated production values of the best secular artists. As a result, Christian rockers - both performers and their audiences - have learned how to be cutting edge without compromising their Christian beliefs.
Now, we can add to that list Sherreece, a New Orleans-based singer and songwriter whose fiery self-produced CD show that she has something to say and all the tools she needs to say it. In songs such as "When I Die," "Holy of Holies," "Change," "Where is the Love?", and "Wings," Sherreece backs her powerful contralto with expertly arranged and produced rock tracks, featuring her collaborator Byron Santo. It's a CD that demands to be heard.
Chief among her gifts is a voice that any diva would envy. Indeed, Sherreece studied voice for many years, and her arrangements have operatic and choral touches throughout, especially in "Wings" and "When I Die." It's a very physical sound, appropriately enough for a gym co-owner and certified instructor in cardio-kickboxing. In the driving, incantatory "Holy of Holies" she sounds like a veritable rock priestess ("You are the Holy of Holies/Nailed to the cross/You gave your life for me"). She notes: "People who are not performers have no idea how something like singing can drain you physically."
If Sherreece sounds driven, like a singer with a mission, it's because she is. "I feel God has chosen me to do this and there is no turning back. Most of my songs are really intended for people that may not have found or may not have made a commitment to Christ. This is what God wants me to do, to help people to realize what they are dealing with and that they can turn to Christ."
What is innovative about Shereece's music is how she melds psalm-like lyrics of spiritual transformation and Christian striving ("What is this darkness/In my life/That shadows over me/Where is the love/My heart is aching/Where is the love/My heart is breaking") with a full-bodied, modern, techno-savvy rock sound that would be equally at home on an arena stage or in a dance club. In fact, European audiences have been especially responsive to her rhythms, inspiring some DJs to produce dance-floor friendly remixes of her tracks.
"My songs easily adapt to different genres. I am very pleased that DJs from around the world have been interested in creating remixes of my songs. This way I can reach a larger audience. It's like planting seeds so people may listen and maybe turn to Christ as I did."
What are the origins of your musical life?
[Sherreece] "I grew up in the small town of Greenwood, South Carolina. I was always singing and dancing since I was a little girl, and I was seven when I had my first performance. It seemed like I was always in a pageant or a play. I auditioned for my first band when I was thirteen and got the job.
"The music scene in my town was country, but I paid close attention to the pop and rock music industry. Even at a young age I knew I didn't belong singing country music. I knew I had much more to say with more meaning. In the Christian market I am saying exactly what I know to be real from my heart."
On your CD liner notes you thank God for helping you with your spiritual struggles. Can you talk about your spiritual awakening?
[Sherreece] "My spiritual awakening was very dramatic for me. I was working the club scene and French Quarter. I lived the rock-n-roll life. I never touched drugs but I was drinking and partying all the time, which was a major contradiction from how I'd been brought up. I struggled with it for about nine years. I had nightmares, really bad nightmares. The life I was leading was so dark compared to what I knew was right. My subconscious was trying turn me back into the light, but I kept ignoring it. Then God intervened. I got myself back on track when I dedicated my life to Christ in May 1999.
"After that I decided to start writing music about my experiences. What I wrote about was drawing upon one's inner strength and what it takes to overcome one's personal demons. My faith in God is where I get my strength. So I had to thank Him."
It is a testimony to her musical independence that, despite her southern roots and New Orleans base, her music sounds nothing like those artists and styles usually associated with the Big Easy (e.g., Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Zydeco, Neville Brothers), and she asserts this independence proudly: "Musically I'm really on my own path and don't pay attention to what other artists are doing."
Even among Christian rock artists, you stand out. Do you feel influenced by other alternative Christian acts such as P.O.D., Creed, and Jars of Clay? Creed has resisted being labeled as a Christian Band. Do you also resist being labeled a Christian artist?
[Sherreece] "I really don't listen much to other artists, but Creed did catch my attention along with Evanescence. Jars of Clay have been around along time and their material is always great. I am proud to be a Christian artist. I do think that some of my lyrics may be a bit of a shock for some of the Christian community. Most of my songs are really intended for people that may not have found or may not have made a commitment to Christ. This is what God wants me to do, to help people to realize what they are dealing with and that they can turn to Christ."
It's not the influence of other Christian artists that she feels; it's the voice of God that inspires Sherreece and her songs: "Most of my songwriting comes to me in my dreams. I get up and start writing. Lately I even record the melody parts down because I have been receiving so much information from God, it's getting hard to remember it all."
Still, along with divine inspiration she works hard at the craft of writing songs and producing records. The synth-trumpet hook to "When I Die" is a stroke of arranging genius. As she says, "The song needed a signature riff and the trumpet sound was it. Bringing in the trumpet with heavy guitars really makes for a different point of view."
Similarly, the classical sample on "Wings" transforms the song into a four minute baroque rock chorale: "Wings" took an extremely long time to write. But when I started developing these choirs I wasn't getting exactly what I wanted. So I did some research with my bass player and we came across a sample disk that had symphony choirs, and it made all of the difference. The opera parts that are in the song I did all myself. After it was finished I had a vision from an angel in a dream and she said God loves it."
Fans of Christian artists such as Jars of Clay and Creed will want to check her out, but so will fans of pop divas like Celine Dion, Sara McLachlan, and Cher (who ought to record "Where is the Love?"). And no one should miss the astonishing remixes of her CD tracks available through her web site, at www.Sherreece.com. Sherreece feels truly inspired by God and she wants you to share that feeling: after listening to this exciting CD you just might.