When bright eyed singer-songwriter Sharif tells the story of making his new CD, Kisses and Lies, he smiles from ear to ear recalling the night he worked up the courage to ask one of his heroes to play on his album. During a Rhett Miller (Old 97’s front man) show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, Miller relayed the story of how, when just starting out, he once asked one of his favorite singers on a whim to sing with him and she did. Sharif’s ears perked up and he recounts how “that night after the show Rhett was doing the old meet and greet so I just stood in line, got up to the front and asked him flat out what he was doing in the near future.” Being an avid fan of Miller and his band the Old 97’s Sharif had been a fixture at many of his shows, so much so that Rhett recognized him immediately. Rhett explained that his future plans included playing SXSW and then waiting for his new CD to come out. “I told Rhett that I had the perfect Americana song for him and asked him if he would record it with me,” recalls Sharif.
After the show Sharif scrambled to write that perfect song for Rhett and himself. He sent Miller an MP3 as soon as he finished, and to Sharif’s delight Miller agreed. Sharif explains “we actually recorded Rhett’s vocals in the closet of a hotel room in Baltimore before he played a show.” Sharif had set up the room with equipment before Rhett arrived and recalls one of his favorite moments from that day. When Miller returned to the hotel after his gig he was asked by a suspicious hotel staffer who he was. Knowing the room was not in his own name he answered “I am Sharif!” Sharif laughs often at the thought of Rhett Miller having to pass himself off as someone else, and namely him.
With the dream of recording with Rhett a reality, Sharif moved forward with tracking the rest of the CD in his native Virginia with producers Chris Keup and Stewart Myers (Jason Mraz, OAR, Rachael Yamagata) and a cast of stellar musicians that includes:
Tim Bradshaw (John Mayer, David Gray, Josh Ritter)
Jon Graboff (Ryan Adams’ Cardinals)
Mark Goldenberg (Jackson Browne, Ringo Starr, Brett Dennen)
Stewart Myers (Lifehouse, Shawn Colvin)
Brian Jones (Mandy Moore, Liz Phair)
Sharif grew up in Portsmouth, VA and attended UVA. He recorded his first record Kiss the Moon while in college and second CD Surrogate Lovers after graduation. The burgeoning singer-songwriter moved to NYC briefly after finishing school but was quickly pulled to Los Angeles by a girl and a whirlwind romance. As the story goes, the relationship didn’t work out but the heartbreak proved a worthy inspiration for his new album.
Music Connection magazine recently named Sharif one of the top unsigned artists of 2009. “Another Wasted Rose” received an honorable mention in the 2008 Billboard World Song Contest, and “Dark Side of the Dawn” has climbed to #89 on the FMQB charts in 2010. Furthermore, many of the 14 songs from Sharif’s new CD have already joined his growing list of 300+ film and TV credits. Sharif credits writing with the legendary songsmith Desmond Child as helping him hone his ability to truly craft a well rounded song. This holiday Sharif recorded a few Christmas tracks as a gift for his fans, notably several of those songs could be heard playing on NBC Los Angeles as part of their Christmas Special programming. All Access Magazine raves about the new album in an early review, describing that “a silky voice, cheerful melodies, creative musicianship and steadfast songwriting make Kisses and Lies a well-rounded, enduring record from beginning to end.” Companies like Red Bull, Taylor Guitars, D’Addario Strings, Planet Waves, and Keeley Electronics have also taken notice of Sharif providing tour support, endorsements, and sponsorships.
Aside from producing his own music, Sharif also has also shown the standout ability to transform hit songs into his own distinctive creations. Maroon 5’s “Won’t Go Home Without You” appears on Sharif’s latest record, slowed down into a mellow, floating waltz. His haunting performance of Rihanna’s “Disturbia” bellows with raw emotion, enjoyed by some 160,000 viewers on YouTube.
Having shared the stage with such popular acts as Kenny Loggins, Rhett Miller, Jason Mraz, Rusted Root, and Blake Shelton, Sharif has sculpted a broad understanding and appreciation of life as a musician on the road. With over 1,500 U.S. and International shows under his belt, Sharif is continuing the journey with Kisses and Lies.