Singing her way to stardom

— image credit:
for the Sequim Gazette

Sarah Shea has been dreaming about this day since she was a little girl.


She remembers sitting in the cart and singing the letters S-A-F-E-W-A-Y in perfect pitch at the store while her mother shopped. As she got older, she’d harmonize to the lifts while skiing. Ever since she can remember, music was “in” her.


Now, after years of hard work, determination and more than a few bumps in the road, Shea, 34, will celebrate the release of her first album, “The Nearness of You,” during Wine on the Waterfront at The Landing Mall in Port Angeles at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 30. She invites all her friends, family and fans to join the fun.

“I’m very excited about this CD,” Shea said. “I’ve wanted to make a CD for a number of years but it always just seemed out of reach.”


“The Nearness of You” is comprised of 12 tracks, including Shea’s personal favorite, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”


With the exception of the first song, “Fever,” all of the vocals were recorded in Sequim. “Fever” was completed in one take and left unedited. Shea describes the track as purposely “raw.”


Accompanying Shea on the CD are Craig Buhler on the saxophone, clarinet or flute and Al Harris on the piano. Buhler and Harris joined forces with Shea in 2009 to form Chez Jazz, a local performing band.


“I’m very proud of this CD because it really is a first-class CD and one that anyone could listen to,” Shea said.


When she first started singing, Shea was encouraged to sing opera and musical theater. As her lifestyle changed, so did her voice.


“Now, as I am a bit older, I have started appreciating the lyrics of jazz and my voice became more suited to it,” she said. “Jazz can reach down into your soul.”


Fresh out of high school in 1996, Shea admits to thinking she had to live her life by a certain timetable. Not anymore.


“Some of the best jazz singers in the world went through things and had hard times — you can hear that in how they sing the song,” she said. “I’ve had to go through things to become a better singer, so even though I wanted to be where I’m at (now) when I was younger, I’m glad I waited.”


None of it would be possible, she insisted, without the support of her friends, family and fans.


“I’m lucky to be surrounded by great musicians who have helped me and raised the bar for me,” Shea said. “I love singing and this is what I love to be doing.”


Like so many other musicians, Shea struggles to make ends meet on a performer’s salary.


“I was proud to say that my gigs were actually paying the rent and my bills but I was barely making it so I am now working at The Bushwhacker as a server and I enjoy my co-workers and having a ‘real’ job!” she said.


What the future holds is a mystery that only time will reveal.


“I feel very committed about singing,” Shea said. “I’d like to see where this will take me — perhaps I can make a real career out of it.”


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