Interview with Jerry Sharell – KJAZZ

By: 
Ben Miles

 

For fans of Frank Sinatra knowing of and about impresario Jerry Sharell is a must. Not only is Sharell the longtime host of “Weekends With Sinatra & Sharell” on KJAZZ, 88.1 FM, he’s a musician, song expert and raconteur par excellence.

Born in Farrell, Penna., in high school he aspired to be on the basketball team; he didn’t make the cut. With his disappointment obvious to the coach, he was advised by the observant mentor to find what it is that he does better than anyone else at the school and excel at it. This sage advice was counseling that Sharell took to heart. As a member of the high school’s choir he knew that singing was what most distinguished him from the rest of his adolescent crowd.

At 15 years old, Sharell began to search out singing gigs on his own. His first breakthrough was at Farrell, Pennsylvania’s Rainbow Grille, where he offered his vocal services to a blues group headed by Charley Pleasant. As reluctant as the musicians were to oblige the teenager, once they did he brought the house down – an audience of two dozen or so.

Soon the Rainbow Grille became a regular performance venue for young Sharell. After graduating from Kent State University in Ohio with a major in Radio/TV and a minor in journalism, Sharell accepted a position as a “promotion man” in Cleveland with Mercury Records. He also became a perennial presence on the Mike Douglas Show when it was part of Cleveland’s local programming. Sharell continued singing in clubs and recorded a couple of singles, which as he explained “went nowhere.”

From there Sharell made his way to the west coast and through the years became a senior executive at three major record companies and experienced success as a record producer – where his work at A&R resulted in a Grammy nomination for Ronnie Milsap’s album “Just for a Thrill” in the category of Best Traditional Pop Vocal Recording. His career in the record/music business continued for nearly five decades.

In addition to serving as President and CEO for the non-profit charity, Society of Singers (2002-2010), Sharell is past president of City of Hope, Entertainment Division and is a voting member of The Recording Academy – and for decades he’s held membership in the American Federation of Musicians/Los Angeles.

Sharell has worked with and promoted the careers of such musical artists as Quincy Jones,The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Queen, The Cars, Herb Alpert, Curtis Mayfield, the Isley Brothers and others.

According to Sharell, “melody and lyrics are the best storytellers in the world – unmatched, unequaled.” For proof of this statement tune in to “Weekends With Sinatra & Sharell” at 10 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to noon on Sundays. As Jerry Sharell says, “a good song never leaves; it grows with you.”

ben@beachcomber.news

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