When I was younger I spent every summer with the greatest grandparents a girl could get. I’d frolic in their front yard and eat my grandmother’s fantastic food. I’d help my grandpa mow and do outside odd and end jobs. I’d practice playing basketball in their parking lot and I owe every all tournament team accomplishment and 3-point shooting championship I ever won to them. I also had the honor of hearing their neighbor making music in her parent’s basement.
When I’d take a break from summer shenanigans or take time off from the trampoline I could hear someone singing from across the street. My cousin and I even compiled her a card and sneakily set in her mailbox boasting about how we were her biggest, best fans. To top ourselves, we stood outside on the street and held up signs that said “Nina Rocks” for her to see! Later that night she nicely brought us over one of her cds. To someone who was seven, she was such a superstar.
Nina Sharp went from singing across the street to performing the National Anthem at school sporting events to winning the 2009 WV Country Colgate Showdown, the 2010 Ohio Country Colgate Showdown, performing at prestigious places like CMA Fan Fair, Jamboree in the Hills, The Wheeling Jamboree and The Nashville Palace, to touring and taking the stage with some of Nashville’s terrific talent – Josh Turner, Joe Nichols, Kellie Pickler, Billy Ray Cyrus, Trent Tomlinson, Chris Cagle, Jamey Johnson, Darryl Worley, Steve Azar, Lonestar, Sawyer Brown, Blackhawk, Jimmy Wayne, Cletus T. Judd, Trent Wilmon, Atlantic Rythm Section, Gloriana, Justin Moore, Jon Connelly, Jamie O’Neal and many more. She also partook in a television pilot about the trials and tribulations of an artist called The Session Players. Her latest contribution to country music, I Keep Dreaming, is out now. Nina sings in her hometown and surrounding cities with her band Nina Sharp and The Briars – Sam Nesbitt, Rocky Hebb, J.B. Stalnaker and Chris Newsom.
It’s not often that you get to see someone’s career shoot off. It’s not often that you get to hear them have practices and eyewitness the effort they exude. I daydreamed to the soundtrack of her songs on summer days. I can safely say that, with the exception of her family and friends, I may have been one of her first fans. Nina Sharp has went from playing in her parent’s basement to singing songs on the radio. Her first single off her second album, “Living a Mistake,” is also used as an ad to stop domestic violence. Her next show is November 5th at Orange Blossom Trail Music Hall in Lost Creek, WV.
Sara Fincham: Do you remember the first song you ever wrote? How old were you? Do you recall any words?
Nina Sharp-Hebb: The first complete song I wrote was when I was 17 years old and the choir at Tygarts Valley High School sang it for my high school graduation. It was called “Time is the Enemy” but that is all I remember.
SF: How supportive were your parents of your singing? Did you delve into any discussions about doing it as a hobby as opposed to a career? Were there ever any “Nina – that’s enough of that noise, it’s 11 P.M.” moments?
NS-H: I was a very loud child. I was told that I sang constantly and never once did my parents ever ask me to shut up…especially at 11pm. We are night owls. Now if I were to belt a song out at 6am, they probably would have drawn the line! My sister on the other hand told me to shut up daily! My parents have never discouraged me in trying to pursue singing. They have been 100% supportive.
As far as it only being a hobby or career, I just never thought of any other way of life for myself. It just never crossed my mind that I might not make it. I, of course, now know how hard it is and how heart breaking it can be. I sometimes wish I didn’t love it so much.
SF: Your single “Living a Mistake” is featured as part of an ad to stop domestic violence. How did that come about and why did you decide to do it?
NS-H: Living A Mistake was actually written about a book I was reading at the time. It was one of those books that disturbed you even when you closed it. The words to the song just kind of poured out of me and that’s how you know it is a good one. When you don’t have to think about it…it just happens. When I first released the song, I got so much mail from victims that I didn’t even know. They would share their stories with me and tell me what a great inspiration the song was and what it meant to them. I decided to then push it as hard as I could. It has been aired on the radio and appeared on over 13 national domestic violence sites.
SF: You’ve won a lot of local competitions and gotten to go on tour and do television appearances – do you have any future goals for yourself?
NS-H: My biggest goal is to just keep music a part of my life on the largest scale possible for as long as I can. I want to continue to write and touch people with a tear or a smile.
SF: Did you ever think about other avenues – American Idol, etc. There are so many singing outlets now. Were they available when you started singing and what do you think their pros and cons are?
NS-H: I have actually tried out for A.I. It is not something I would ever do again because I don’t think it is completely fair, but I would try any new show that came my way, even if it did end up being shady. I have to try every avenue or I would regret it someday. I would rather know that I lost than to never have tried or know at all.
SF: Was the decision to do another album a hard one? There were quite a few years between the two, in which time you were working and getting married, so it’s understandable, but was music on the back-burner for a few, or did you just want to get it right?
NS-H: The only thing that was in my way was money. I have never stopped pursuing and would record an album every year if I had the finances. An album is extremely expensive. My first album was also written by others and I wanted to write my second album myself. I have written so many that it was really hard to choose what to record.
Still to this day, I regret putting some on and regret not recording others. I am sure it is like that with everyone. Songs are like your children…like a diary that is open to the world, so the decisions are hard. My marriage only fueled my fire because my husband is as involved in music as I am.
SF: I assume when you practice now it’s a little bit more professional than playing at your parents! But I have fond memories of your early days! You have no idea what you started when you gave me that cd so many years ago! Do you have a favorite musical memory?
NS-H: I have several, but one of my favorites is when I was sitting in my kitchen and looked out the window and saw the neighbor kids holding signs that said “Nina Rocks!” I have gotten to tour and open for 31 Nashville Acts and have got to sing with a lot of great musicians, but my favorite musical memories are when people that I don’t know tell me that they love my show or my music. I have so many friends and family members that support me and I appreciate it so much, but when someone I don’t know appreciates what I do, it feels really nice.