Friday, August 5, 2011

Interview with Jacqui Sharkey

Interview with Jacqui Sharkey

Following on from the CD Review Jacqui Sharkey very kindly agreed to be interviewed for CMNI.

Livewire: Describe Jacqui Sharkey in a few words ?

Jacqui Sharkey: Wow! I don’t think I could describe myself in a few words. I am far too complicated for that…but I suppose mostly passionate, positive and without prejudices.

Livewire: Were you born in Scotland and when did you move to Donegal?

Jacqui: Yes, I was born in Scotland after my family moved there, and I came back to Donegal almost 20 years ago now. I love Scotland, and the Scottish people…but it is hard to see myself as being Scottish as such, because my roots and heart are in Ireland, through and through. It must be the strong Irish spirit!

Livewire: What were your musically influences growing up?

Jacqui: I had many musical influences growing up, from Led Zeppelin, Queen, Clapton, Chrissie Hynd & Stevie Nicks to Dolly Parton. I was a bit of a rocker...still am, if I am honest…but I also love Classical music, Folk, Traditional, Country, Jazz and Blues…and lots of things in between. I listened to a lot of music back then, and I played a lot of different types of music as a teenager in my first gigs. The audiences probably didn’t know what to make of me, as they never knew what was coming next! I learned songs from week to week, and sang and played everything from Clapton to John Denver! Liam Reilly from Bagatelle inspired my writing back then. I love his songs…

Livewire: Did you study music at Glasgow University?

Jacqui: Surprisingly, no! I wish that I had! My only musical study was guitar and piano lessons when I was growing up. I studied law, actually! I think it was the drama of the courtroom that attracted me to law, as I love acting, but music is definitely my passion.

Livewire: Which artist inspires you the most musically and how deep do your musical roots run?

Jacqui: Beth Nielsen Chapman for sure. She has it all. I can only aspire to write and perform songs which are even half as good as hers, and her voice is incredible. My musical roots run very deep! I come from an area and a family steeped in music. My great-grandmother used to sing in the hills of Thor in Donegal. She wrote songs as well. My mum plays fiddle and my dad the flute, and we have many singers in the family, including my little niece, who, despite being only 2 years old, can sing ‘When I Dream’, so I think the roots are spreading! I live music most of the time in one way or another…

Livewire: What inspired you to become an artist and make you want to play live before an audience?

Jacqui: I have wanted to perform since I was about 10 I think. I just loved to play guitar and sing, and I have always been fascinated by the cleverness of songwriting. I remember watching ‘The Jazz Singer’, one of my favourite movies, over and over, and thinking, “Wow! I have to do this!

Livewire: You played keyboard and sang lead in a band called The Jury’s Out - Is this an Irish band?
Were you asked to join? What style of music did you most enjoy performing?

Jacqui: Yes, the Jury’s Out was an Irish Band, and I formed the band in 1996. We had a ball during those years. It was wonderful! I loved to mix up the songs, but we played mostly Rock and Pop songs and really good classics. That is the style I loved to perform during that time. And I got my fix of other styles of music through musical theatre. It was great!

Livewire: When did you decide to make a solo record?

Jacqui: About 6 years ago! I am really bad at making decisions, so it took until the summer of 2010 for me to get started. I started a project with Manus Lunny of Capercaillie, which I fully intend to finish, but I decided to put it on hold to do this album following the release of my single, ‘When I Dream’ last October.

Livewire: How long did it take you with the album song selection process for A New Dawn?

Jacqui: About 3 or 4 months. I wanted to love every song on it, so I took time to think about a blend of songs of my own which suited the style of music on the album, and songs which I love. I got there in the end!

Livewire: The recording process took a relatively short time did it come naturally to you in the studio?

Jacqui: Yes, the album was recorded in a few short weeks. I waited for years, and then couldn’t get it finished quickly enough! I think it did come naturally to me in the studio. I have done studio work before, but it is always harder to adapt to singing in a studio rather than live. I tend to sing out a lot live, and this album is much softer, so that was a challenge! I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to do the next one…

Livewire: What is your favourite track on the album?

Jacqui: I think ‘Midnight Symphony’, as I am very proud of it. It is always great to hear your own composition being played. That song came to me late one stormy night, and the words and melody flowed, which doesn’t always happen. I am so pleased that we got it finished to go on my first album.

Livewire: What will your next single be?

Jacqui: I will be releasing a new single in the next two weeks and it is called ‘If I Had You’. It is also my own song. I wrote it with George Clooney in mind…(Only kidding!)

Livewire: You picked some wonderful songs to cover on A NEW DAWN. How did you discover Mary Chapin Carpenter and Beth Nielsen Chapman’s music?

Jacqui: The bass player in ‘The Jury’s Out’ introduced me to the music of Mary Chapin Carpenter many years ago and I played a few of her songs with the band, although not the ones on the album. She is really inspirational. I was introduced to Beth’s music about eight years ago by Ian Smith, who had met her in Nashville. We have mutual friends out there and I was lucky enough to meet her after one of her concerts here in Ireland a couple of years ago. She is a lovely person as well as being an incredible artist. I hope to meet M.C.C. some day as well. I think the three of us should form a band! What do you think? Ha!

Livewire: I really like the track “Midnight Symphony” - When did you first meet with your co-writer Ian Smith and do you plan to write songs together again in the future?

Jacqui: Thank you so much. As I said, I am very proud of it, as is Ian. I met Ian when I was playing as a teenager, and he had just moved to Donegal from Scotland. (He is a Scot from Ayrshire). We have written another song together, which is partly recorded, and I will be finishing that with Manus Lunny soon. Ian and I plan on writing many more songs together. He is a wonderful artist himself. He is due to release an album shortly.

Livewire: I love the track “If I Fell From Grace With You” how did your meeting with its co-writer Tom Kimmel come about?

Jacqui: I met Tom in 2007 when he was playing “in a round” at the Bluebird CafĂ©, Nashville with my good friend, Michael Kelsh, Blue Mother Tupelo and a couple of other artists. I was blown away by Tom. His songs are fantastic and he has a gorgeous voice. He is delighted that I have recorded the song. He says he and Lisa are very proud of it…and so they should be. I think it is a gorgeous song…

Livewire: What inspired you to become a songwriter? Do you remember writing your very first song?

Jacqui: As I said, I was always fascinated by the cleverness of songwriting and music composition in general, so it was always on the cards! I wrote my first song when I was about 14. It is called ‘A Taste Of Paradise’ and it is about the part of Donegal we are from. It isn’t my favourite of my songs! But then I was only 14!

Livewire: Will you be writing and recording more songs on your next album than doing covers?

Jacqui: Absolutely. I will be recording mostly all original material from now on…that is the plan anyway…although I wouldn’t rule out a cover song or two if I think it would work.

Livewire: As you co-produce the album is creative control something that’s very important to you?

Jacqui: It is very important to me, as my co-producer would tell you! He was probably ready to kill me! I think it is vital that you can listen to your work and be happy…and mostly true to yourself, as mixing etc. can totally change a song. But I am a firm believer that musicians are musicians and producers are producers, and I am not one of the very few privileged who are both, so I know when to take a step back and leave it to those who are producers.

Livewire: Who's your biggest critic, yourself or others?

Jacqui: Myself, for sure. No doubt. I am hugely critical of myself when it comes to music.

Livewire: Your video ‘You Needed Me’ which is being shown on Showcase TV what was the experience like making that?

Jacqui: It was fun. It was only my second video, so I am still getting used to being filmed, but I enjoyed it. It was done very simply and very quickly! I will be working on another one in the next few weeks for my new single and that will be a little different.

Livewire: What’s your favorite thing being in the studio, songwriting or being on stage?

Jacqui: On stage, no doubt about it. I absolutely love it! I get such a buzz from it!

Livewire: How was the last year for you? What were the highlights?

Jacqui: The last year has been hectic. There were ups and downs, as there are for most people, but it has been exciting, and the highlights were getting the album out there and all that happened after that. I have had great fun doing live sessions, interviews and performances, and I have been amazed at all the lovely messages and comments I have received through my website. Opening for the Irish singer, Tommy Fleming, was also great fun. I mixed up the music with some Celtic folk and had a ball!

Livewire: Do you have any interesting stories about how fans have been affected by your music?

Jacqui: Not really, unfortunately, as having fans is a fairly recent experience for me. Most fans tell me my voice makes them cry. I am not sure if that is so good!

Livewire: Tell me the strangest moment on stage that you've ever experienced?

Jacqui: The strangest moment I have ever had on stage was years ago, when I was singing a few songs with musician friends of mine who were doing a gig here in Donegal, and I looked down to see John Forsyth looking up at me, smiling. (He played Blake Carrington in Dynasty). It was crazy! Who would expect to see old Blake in front of them at a gig in Donegal. He was so lovely! I had a photo taken with him, but it will never see daylight, due to my awful hairstyle at the time. It is locked away!

Livewire: What can your fans expect to see when they come to see you in concert?

Jacqui: I sing much better live than on record, and I like to mix it up, so there will always be a few surprises! And they can expect to see some amazing musicians I am blessed to have around me. I hope my shows are a memorable experience for anyone who comes.

Livewire: Will you perform solo or will you have support musicians?

Jacqui: I will, on occasion, be having support musicians, but my concerts are still in the planning stage. The only solo concert which has been confirmed to date is An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny, Donegal, on 15th September, and I will be having guest artists. I will also be accompanied by at least 5 musicians. I can’t wait!

Livewire: What's the best compliment a fan has ever given you?

Jacqui: That the two best songs on my album are my own songs. That is cool.

Livewire: How important do you consider social networking via the internet is when promoting your music?

Jacqui: It is incredibly important these days. No doubt about it! It is an amazing way of marketing music. I have learned a lot about that over the past nine or ten months.

Livewire: If you had the chance to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

Jacqui: I would make it easier for new artists to break through, but I don’t think that will ever happen, unfortunately. It is tough.

Livewire: What's your favorite song that you wish you could have recorded?

Jacqui: I would never say never to recording any of my favourite songs. I am not done yet, so I would tell you, but then I’d have to shoot you! I don’t want to spoil any surprises…

Livewire: What music are you currently listening to?

Jacqui: I am currently listening to Imelda May. She is an Irish artist from Dublin. She is incredible.

Livewire: If you had to choose an album as your Desert Island disc what would it be?

Jacqui: ‘Queen’s Greatest Hits’ or ‘The Jazz Singer’. I would never get tired listening to either.

Livewire: Who is your favourite singer?

Jacqui: I think my favourite singer, past or present, has to be Elvis Presley. I didn’t always like every song he sang, but his voice was amazing and so unique. He wasn’t too bad looking either!

Livewire: What artist would you like to duet with in any genre? Dream as big as you like!

Jacqui: Sting would be cool…or Elvis, if time travel is invented before I die!

Livewire: If you were invited onto CMT Crossroads (which pairs a country artist with someone from another genre) who would you pick?

Jacqui: Springsteen. That would be the business.

Livewire: What’s the best live concert you’ve ever seen?

Jacqui: Probably The Eagles at the RDS , Dublin on their ‘When Hell Freezes Over’ Tour. They opened with ‘Hotel California’ and I didn’t stop smiling for a week!

Livewire: How do you like to relax?

Jacqui: I love watching movies. It is hard for me to clear my mind sometimes, even when listening to music, as I am always thinking of ideas, so I can lose myself in movies.

Livewire: Describe what a perfect day is like for you?

Jacqui: A late rise, the sun shining its warmth and nothing to do but whatever I like.

Livewire: From pictures on your website it looks like you enjoy to travel abroad. If you could travel anywhere in the World, where would you want to go and why?

Jacqui: Yes, I have travelled a lot. I love seeing different places and experiencing different cultures. I would really love to visit more countries in Africa, and do voluntary work and help where I can. I fully intend to do that some day. It must be so rewarding.

Livewire: What countries outside of Ireland and the UK would you like to tour with your music?

Jacqui: I would love to tour Europe, the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand for a start. Everywhere! It would be great!

Livewire: What’s your favourite colour?

Jacqui: I think blue, but everyone tells me that I wear a lot of black, so maybe I am fooling myself!

Livewire: What’s your favourite food?

Jacqui: I love most food…and lots of it. Italian is my favourite type of food and Cannelloni is my favourite dish. I love Italy. I could easily live there.

Livewire: Favourite TV show?

Jacqui: I think Criminal Minds, a show about criminal profiling. Is that weird?

Livewire: Favourite time of year?

Jacqui: Summer, for sure...although it is always hectic!

Livewire: What advice would you give to other artists considering career music?

Jacqui: Keep the Faith and go for it, despite the knocks that you will surely get. It is a tough business, but worth the pitfalls.

Livewire: What message would you like to send out to European music fans?

Jacqui: I hope to be sharing my music with European music fans for years to come, and only for them, that would not be possible. For that, I am truly thankful to them. Bless them all for keeping music alive…

THANK YOU so much Jacqui!


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