Rising star Shara Strand is heading to Chicago for Market Days this summer to sing her heart out. Her song "I Will Carry You," originally from her Born Tonight EP, has 16 dance mixes to keep the crowds jumping. She is with D1, one of the last gay-owned dance labels left.
Jerry Nunn: You are originally a New Yorker?
Shara Strand: Born and raised. I started on Broadway and decided not to play a character anymore. I wanted to write my own songs and talk about my own experiences. I wanted to add another artistic flair to it.
JN: Who were you usually cast as?
SS: I was the rock, pop, vampy, Maureen-from-Rent-type of girl. I started as Liesl in the Sound of Music. I had very classical theater training but decided not to do it after school. I didn't want to act it anymore but, instead, just be me.
JN: You are a big Barbra Streisand fan.
SS: I was practically raised on her. She was played every day in my house. Not only was she the theater goddess but Jewish as well. Every time I heard her voice I would go crazy.
JN: Are you going for a singer/songwriter style?
SS: The EP is very rock and pop. When I first started singing everything was very acoustic. I loved that vibe. It was very intimate. I started writing my own music. Pop always has my heart. There is something very alive about it. I think that is my home. There is so much that can be done with pop and remixes. You shouldn't be put in a box.
JN: Are you doing the remix version of "Jekyll or Hyde" at the clubs now.
SS: Yes, because it lends itself more to the clubs. That is my baby and my song. That came straight from the heart with an experience that I was going through. I wanted it to be the song people heard first.
JN: Who is the hot guy in the video?
SS: [laughs] He was just cast for that day. I didn't
know he was going to take his shirt off then I turned around and saw him. He asked me to get in the bed with him.
JN: Tough day at work!
SS: It was a cute day.
JN: D1 is a gay dance label?
SS: Yes, I was their first pop act signed. Even though they are really good at dance mixes this was a first for me.
JN: Explain your name.
SS: It is Hebrew. It means "to sing". It was destiny. In Chicago you would probably say "sharrra."
JN: The gays are used to Cher, so "Cher-ah."
JN: Have you always been tapped into the gay community?
SS: I am always the one that had fifty gay friends growing up around me and no girlfriends. I think the whole issue of inequality feels very 1930s. It doesn't make any sense so I have always taken a firm stand to speak up. I have been performing at prides wherever they will have me. I did Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Phoenix, so I have traveled all over the country. In Seattle we raised funds to pass Referendum 74 and pass gay marriage. I will always use my art and voice to make things equal playing ground. I don't believe any inequality is fair. I think gay people are the most fabulous people of them all even if that segregates my straight fans. I get the best advice from my gay fans, whether it is fashion, my hair, or even my first demo tape.
Strand strikes up the band at the North Stage, Sun., August 11 at 4:40 p.m. Visit www.sharastrand.com for more on this emerging artist.