Sherryl Marshall

If you’re a true music head reading this from NYC, you know of our latest feature to answer the XXQ’s – Ms. Sherryl Marshall is a member of the New York Singers Collective, and has appeared on most of the big time TV stages in New York: from the old days of Conan O’Brien to Saturday Night Live and The Today Show, Marshall has made quite the impact on the entertainment capital of the eastern United States.

She’s joined some legends on stage in her career too – from Chubby Checker to Joni Mitchell,Marshall is a true veteran, teacher and student of really good, heartfelt music. Her latest record is titled “Black Cohosh”; a collection she says chronicles a revolutionary time in her life. Marshallcontinues, “I worked out a lot of issues dealing with family love and just general self worth with this music, while managing to be light and funky on some of the tunes too. I feel as if I've got things to say that everyone can relate to. I hope people will walk away ultimately feeling joy.” “Black Cohosh” mixes all of Marshall’s influences – from pop to jazz, even with a touch of Klezmer! Get into it. You’re sure to run into Sherryl if you’re in NYC – so take a trip! For now, keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Sherryl Marshall (PEV):  How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

Sherryl Marshall (SM): I feel that my sound is influenced by the diversified environment that I grew up in.  A Bronx neighborhood of many cultures.   So I have a little classic, pop, jazzy, klezmer Bronx thing going on and I think that's kind of kooky and special.

PEV: Calling New York City home, what kind of music where you into growing up? Was anyone your main influence? As well, is there one artist now that you look admire in your genre?

SM:  Growing up I heard all kinds of music. My dad was a classically trained musician, playing piano and singing.  My mom was into jazz and I have many memories of Saturday morning, with her playing Sarah Vaughn, Dakota Staton, Ella, and Ray Charles.  In fact I used to put on my mom's Ray Charles records, find a shadow on the wall and pretend to be a Raylette. Training for my back up singing career.  I have two older sisters and they were listening to everything from Elvis and the Everly Brothers to Archie Drell and the Bells and Motown.  So all that was there for me.  I was into the Beatles, the Airplane, Steve Winwood and Traffic the Band.. basically the rock stuff.  My main true influence was Laura Nyro. Growing up she was my inspiration. The artist that I admire todae are Lucinda Williams, Macy Grey, John Cleary a fabulous pianist and singer out of New Orleans and I'm on an Adele kick right now.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew you wanted music to be a large part of your life, if not the biggest part?

SM:I am one of the lucky ones.  I always knew I wanted to be a musician.  I started playing the piano at five and I truly can't remember life without singing.  I majored in music at college and received a degree in Music Theory and Composition. My biggest decision back then was do I play the piano or do I sing.  After a few piano performances with sweaty hands I went for the voice.

PEV: Having recorded or performed live with everyone from Gloria Gaynor, Leslie Gore , Darlene Love Chubby Checker to Peter Wolf ,Southside Johnny, Johnny Rivers,  Lou Gramm of Foreinger to Black 47, RuPaul, Al Kooper, Albert Collins to Joni Mitchell, Jane Siberry, Valerie Simpson, Ashford & Simpson, The Klezmatics and a host of others, tell us about your first ever live performance.

SM: My first every live performance was the Featherbed Lane Presbyterian Church production of "Oliver", in which I had the title role.  I was twelve.

PEV: What was it like for you when you first started out and making the transition to professional musician?

SM:  After college I set out to become a singer songwriter artist, making demos, sending them off to record companies.  Performing with my band at places like the Bitter End in Greenwich Village. Even though I was making art via my music, I wasn't making any money.  So... I slowly transitioned into becoming a professional.  Thru  word of mouth, auditions, various forms  of networking and people hearing me sing, I started getting hired for backup sessions, some jingles and club dates.  i started making money off of music which was a hard transition because my music my art was put on a back burner, It also put me sometimes into situations of competition with other singers, which can lead to feelings of doubting ones own talent.  Glad to be on the other side of that now because I truly appreciate the  uniqueness of my sound.

PEV: Do you remember the first time you thought to yourself – “I am really onto something!”?

SM:  I think when I first started to play my music with other musicians.  It became real .  I had created a song that could be something shared, expanded upon harmonically, percussively, literally brought to another place of completion.  The fact that musicians could find something in my music, a part to play the fact that they wanted to play it was like… WOW

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Sherryl Marshall show?

SM: You can expect, great songs, fabulous singing. plenty of background vocals, lots of rhythm and loads of humor.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

SM: This is why I'm here so I'm gonna have a blast!

PEV:  What is the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for your songs?

SM: My inspiration comes from many different places, but mainly I find it comes from my life experiences. That's where I get my best ideas.  What moves me, What I'm passionate about, how I work thru various emotions, how I deal with the world around me, what's happening in the world around me.

PEV: Tell us more about your latest release, “Black Cohosh” and why you feel so passionate about this project. What can fans expect from this work?

SM: BLACK COHOSH chronicles a certain time in my life. A time of change.  Black Cohosh is a plant the women use to ease hormonal unrest and I was consuming a lot of it during this period.  I worked out a lot of issues dealing with family  love and just general self worth with this music, while managing to be light and funky on some of the tunes too.  I feel as if I've got things to say that everyone can relate to   I hope people will walk away ultimately feeling joy.

PEV: Describe the kind of mindset you have to be in to record a song?

SM:  I'm in good vocal shape, I'm ready to have fun, no worries, let's make music!

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Sherryl Marshall?

SM: She secretly wishes she could fly a 747.

PEV: What one word best describes Sherryl Marshall?

SM: Solid.

PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?

SM: Life on the road so far, has been nothing but a good time.  I've been lucky.. I've been able to go to some far off places, stay at some great hotels, meet and make music with some fabulous and sometimes very funny people.  I can't think of a worst part.

PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet? Why?

SM:  Italy.  In all my road travels for some reason I never got to Italy.  I'd love to play and eat there.  The culture, history art, Michelangelo, da Vinci thing really attracts me in my soul    I feel like a visit there could change me.  I haven't gone there yet cause  it just hasn't happed yet, But it will… still wishing

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play in your hometown, and in front of your family/friends?

SM:  My family has always supported my music.  My father who just recently passed away was my biggest fan.  He videoed many of my solo performances and kept the archives in tape of what I did.  It's always interesting when you play in front of your family  You sometimes wonder "do they get that I'm talking about them?"  But everyone really gives you unconditional love and support no matter what, although times they can be  truthful critics.  Family and friends are a great audience.

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

SM:  Well it so happens that I do a little Decoupage.  The art of cut and paste. I do this on found materials, basically pasting images of flowers and folk.  I've been working on a pin up tray series.

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

SM: My friend Liza Colby who I've sung back up with on the Denis Leary Rescue Me tour has got a killer band called the Liza Colby Sound.  We should definitely be watching out for them  They're too much fun!

PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you think you would be doing as your career?

SM: I'd be teaching, in fact I do teach.  It's so like being on stage, but you have to back the performance up with some real knowledge.

PEV: So, what is next for Sherryl Marshall?

SM:  I'm working on bringing back "Sherita Marshone," my alter ego.  Letting her get out and play for a while.  Doing some more one woman shows with her as my character, including spoken word and of course song.  And summer is coming.  I see the garden in my future!

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