An interview with Sharon Durant
Sharon is the fabulous singer who has provided the vocals for the choir’s female rehearsal CDs. She is also Sing Up Workforce Development Resources Manager, leads the Vocal Curriculum at The Sage Gateshead’s weekend school, directs several community choirs and is a performer as part of Mouthful, a four piece vocal ensemble. Here Sharon tells us how she first became involved with music and what inspires her.
Sharon, I love your singing on our rehearsal CDs; thank you. What first got you interested in singing, and how did you come to be specialising in the type of singing that you do now?
I had a great music teacher at primary school and enjoyed singing in the school choir. That’s why I’m inspired working for Sing Up, the Music Manifesto National Singing Programme (www.singup.org). I think it is really important for children to have regular opportunities to sing together. I didn’t really start singing solos until late in secondary school when I started doing school musicals. I’ve have always loved the energy, rhythm and harmonies of gospel music and the opportunity for improvisation.
You have a great voice Sharon. Do you come from a musical family? Can you play any instruments as well as sing?
Yes, my family all enjoy music. I play piano and guitar. Being able to play instruments, especially ones which have chord and rhythm aspects, really helps my singing and ability to read music. I’m very grateful that my parents made me learn piano, despite the constant battle over practice!
Thank you for making such a good job of the rehearsal CDs – it is a great help. Have you had a chance to hear the choir singing together the numbers you have sung on your own?
Yes, I slipped into your rehearsal at The Sage Gateshead before the Christmas concert. It sounded great, although I was gutted that I missed my favourite arrangements; Hark the Herald and Manger Songs.
All of West Yorkshire will have heard your voice by now… its playing in my car most days or in the kitchen. How long does it take you to become note and word perfect before recording the CD?
It depends on the piece really and how perfectionist I’m feeling. I can sometimes record a part ten times without getting it perfect, other times I’ll get it right first time. Luckily we have recording equipment at home which makes it all a bit more relaxed.
Which pieces of music do you turn to again and again for comfort or inspiration?
Ooh, that’s a hard one. A song that I sing a lot when I’m on my own is ‘Something So Right’ by Paul Simon. I also love ‘Country Road’ by James Taylor. ‘Defying Gravity’ is a great song for belting out at full volume.
When some of our singers worked with Banda Europa a couple of years back, you said that you had a degree in engineering but had always had a love for musical theatre. How did you manage to make such a life changing jump from engineering to a career in music and do you still put your engineering skills to good use?
Hmmm. I don’t know if I ever really had any engineering skills, even after a degree! I think there is a strong link between maths and music, with all the patterning. When I work with harmony, I see the parts as different landscapes which allows me to picture and understand how they work together – if that makes any sense?
Having heard you on the rehearsal CD, I really wanted to put a face to your voice. Do you ever do performances that I could come to?
I love performing and am in several groups: Mouthful, a 4-person a capella ensemble who perform innovative, exciting and original music, Hot Gospel, a 13-piece gospel choir and Human Music, which is a larger ensemble who perform contemporary vocal music. Mouthful was formed after we did a project where we sang songs from ‘Oh Brother Where Art Thou’ and other country gospel classics. I’m looking forward to using some of the songs again in a massed choir event this summer linking in with our Americana Festival.
Check out www.mouthful.org.uk for Mouthful's up and coming performances.