I'm more about telling a story than I am about vocal gymnastics. - Shara Strand
Shara Strand is your new "American Idol". Well, ok, she isn't, and good thing, too. How many winners of that show went onto the success Shara will?! Two... Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
Ms. Strand, armed with a great voice and a desire to tell stories, is going to better the pop world. With her literally-titled single, "Jekyll or Hyde," and her more-ambiguously titled EP, "Born Tonight," Shara has something to say musically and personally.
Hey Shara, I know you are waiting, let me hand you the microphone!
MS: How's your day going?
SS: I just flew into New York City from Seattle, WA. I got back, um, like, two in the morning, so it's been a whirlwind.
MS: Funny you should mention Seattle, WA. I am from that area.
SS: Get out of here! Seattle is really pretty. The Pike's Place Market is unbelievable! I spent four hours looking around.
MS: Your single "Jekyll or Hyde" is something we can all relate to. We've all had one of those.
SS: Or we have been one ourselves. We've all been "Jekyll or Hyde".
MS: Did you write the song about a general life experience or was it something specific?
SS: It was based on a relationship in the music industry with someone that was all crazy supportive at some point, everything I have always wanted. Then they would pull out with no explanation, it was that constant mind game. Well, I've had that mind game in my relationships a million times. At the same time, my best friend who was visiting my apartment everyday was like: "Ya know, my boyfriend takes me ring shopping, he wants to propose and then the next day he tells me why we can never get married." But that happens to everybody.
MS: True, we have all had things like that.
SS: Yeah, exactly!
MS: It's funny you should make a song title so literal. I don't think, and maybe I'm wrong, that I have ever heard "Jekyll or Hyde" as the name of a song.
SS: Yeah, I don't think it has. I saw a band once named "Jekyll & Hyde".
MS: Well, that would make sense.
SS: Yeah. (laughs)
MS: The thing that is interesting to me is you say you look up to Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand and Whitney Houston. Personally, I think your vocal quality is more Karen Carpenter.
SS: Ohhhhhhh, that's kind of cool! You know, when someone says something like that, right out of left field for me, I would never think about that, but I love Karen Carpenter.
MS: Your vocals are pure and uncluttered, very direct, much like hers.
SS: I'm more about telling a story than I am about vocal gymnastics.
MS: Let's talk about your EP, "Born Tonight," you said it has been a long time coming and now you feel born in a metaphorical way.
SS: Where did you read that? Did I say that? (laughs)
MS: It was in your press release. (laughs)
SS: Oh, ok! (laughs) I had a list of titles for the EP. It's a great EP and it finally came together within the last year. I was listening to the Rosanne Cash song, "Seven Year Ache". She says in the song "You act like you were just born tonight." I thought it was interesting as there are all these good connotations to it; you are constantly reinventing yourself everyday. There is always an opportunity to learn more lessons and grow.
MS: When you have been working for a long time to bring something to fruition I can see how you would feel like you "birthed your baby" so to speak.
SS: Totally! When it was released I really felt like it was my baby.
MS: You are a big proponent of marriage equality. Why is that?
SS: I'm Jewish. I grew up at a time where my agents and managers told me not to talk about my background. It was always really funny for me, because I didn't get it. I'm just like everybody else. It makes no sense to me that a group of people, or a religion, could be looked down on, it's just not fair. Personally, in this day and age I can't believe that people would be against equality, that doesn't make sense to me.
MS: Now I find it odd that someone would tell you not to speak about being Jewish.
SS: Yes, but it's true, it's so true, even as little as two years ago. I did a radio show, they asked me if I was Jewish and I said I was. My manager at the time said: "You might not want to talk about that so much". There are still people out there that really hate Jewish people.
MS: Weird. I wasn't aware that stigma still existed, I knew certain ones did, but I thought that was pretty much antiquated.
SS: People have such weird feelings against hearing something that specific, and when they do all of the sudden there are all of these stereotypes that come along with that. That's so weird to me.
MS: What do you hope people take away from "Born Tonight"?
SS: I just want to go back to telling a story, without all of the crazy auto-tune behind it. Something really real that people can relate to. Everything on the EP I wrote, or I was touched deeply by. It all tells my story, the one right before I got my record deal.
"Hearing everything you say, won't change yesterday" - "Jekyll or Hyde"
Get "Born" with Shara at www.sharastrand.com.