What do you do after scoring 2 top 10 Triple A singles on your latest release, headlining the country in support of that album, then taking off to tour with Bonnie Raitt on a 21 city run, all the while landing a cut on Trisha Yearwoods CD, three songs on Bonnie Raitts latest, three tracks on Edwin McCains current album (lending your vocals to all three releases) and getting a song on Mindy Smiths forthcoming record? Well if youre Maia Sharp you start your own label, put out an acoustic album, tour behind it and then head back into the studio to make your 2007 label release.
Sharps last studio album, 2005s Fine Upstanding Citizen (KOCH) garnered her critical raves and nationwide airplay on the singles Something Wild and Red Dress achieving top 10 chart status at R&R on both songs. Now with 4 national label releases (3 critically acclaimed solo albums and a 4th collaborative effort with Art Garfunkel) to her credit she found herself in a position where most artists may have felt entitled to a small break. Her next national label release being slotted for early 07 would have presented the ideal time to stop and smell the roses rather than race past them in a flurry of tour bus exhaust. However, with a growing demand for the songstress to perform, including 2 months opening for and singing with Bonnie Raitt in addition to her own headline shows, Sharp found herself with a lot of fans wanting more music faster than a labels pace would allow.
From that demand the idea for Eve & The Red Delicious was born. The tour offers kept coming in and more and more people were emailing me through the website, through myspace, coming up to me at shows etc. asking why I couldnt do a record a year. Sharp explains, Ive been fortunate to always have a label doing the behind-the-scenes work while still giving me creative control but the drawback is that Im at the mercy of their schedules. With 4 albums worth of label knowledge under my belt and time between F.U.C. and the next label record, I thought, why not take advantage and do an in-between cd thats more reflective of the live show. Im writing enough to release new material more often and Im lucky enough to have loyal fans that buy every record. It quickly became a no brainer.
Its that relentless drive that led Sharp to record an acoustic album with 5 new songs and 2 new versions of fan favorites from previous albums (Hardly Glamour Ark 21 Records, 1998 and 2005s Fine Upstanding Citizen on KOCH). Eve & The Red Delicious (taken from a line from the impossibly hooky Whole Flat World) was done as a duo with bass player Darren Embry. If I was going to pull this off it needed to be as true to the live performances as possible and with Darrens top shelf vocals and musicianship I feel we were able to accomplish that and have fun doing it. Sharp & Embry met while she and Jonatha Brooke were touring together. Im a huge Jonatha fan and I fully appreciate how musically challenging playing with her could be, so when I saw Darren up there slaying those bass and vocal parts I knew I had to work with him.
The album features Sharp on guitars, Rhodes, piano, saxophone (her first instrument) and percussion performing songs she wrote alone or co-wrote with, among others, acclaimed Americana songbird Kim Richey, Timbuk 3s Pat MacDonald and Bonnie Raitt collaborator David Batteau.
The Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist has seen about two dozen of her songs recorded by artists that run the genre gamut, from chart-topping pop acts to Rock and Roll Hall of Famers including Bonnie Raitt, Trisha Yearwood, Art Garfunkel, Edwin McCain, The Dixie Chicks, Paul Carrack, Cher and Mindy Smith to name a few.
Maia has written with Carole King, Jules Shear, Timothy B. Schmitt, David Wilcox, Amanda Marshall, Edwin McCain, Lisa Loeb, Mindy Smith, Howard Jones, The Go Gos, Billy Mann, Paul Carrack and many more.
In 1997, she signed with Miles Copelands Ark 21 label, on which her debut CD, Hardly Glamour, was released. It scored a Triple A radio hit with the rugged and haunting “I Need This to Be Love.” Later that year, she was nominated for Triple-A radio’s Artist of the Year and Cher recorded a version of one of the cds highlights, “Don’t Come Around Tonight on Its a Mans World.
Sharp then joined up with Art Garfunkel and Buddy Mondlock for their EMI/Blue Note trio project Everything Waits to Be Noticed co-writing several tracks, trading off lead vocals and harmonies with the legend and lending her saxophone chops to the project. Summarizing his time with Maia, Garfunkel simply says, In the tradition of great female artists, Karla Bonoff, Bonnie Raitt, Christine McVie, Shawn Colvin, Sarah McLachlan…..now enter Maia Sharp.”
At the same time, Concord Records released her self titled second solo album Maia Sharp to critical acclaim. The singles Willing to Burn and Crimes of the Witness both landed in the top 10 in the Triple A radio format. This was a very busy time for Sharp promoting both the Garfunkel project and her own simultaneously. After almost a year of off and on touring Sharp was back in the studio to record what ultimately became 05s Fine Upstanding Citzen on KOCH.
Look for East coast headline tour dates to promote Eve & The Red Delicious as well as upcoming Canadian dates with Bonnie Raitt in October.
It looks like, for now, the only roses Sharp will be able to stop and smell will be the ones backstage in her dressing room.
THE ROXY show dates: