Headlines, Vintage Vinyl — January 8, 2014 at 9:00 am

Vintage Vinyl – Sharon Strong

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It is 1965. The girl, who is only 16 but already a showbiz pro who has been singing for country and western audiences since she was 4 years old, has traveled to Toronto from her home on a farm in southwestern Ontario. It’s not her first visit – she’s even been on TV there and in Hamilton – but to be on her own in Canada’s largest city is still a big deal. Well, not completely on her own, of course; she’s staying with the family of the man producing what will turn out to be her only album.

She’s in Toronto for a week, seven long days of recording sessions and overdubs with Ben Weatherby, the Arc Records house producer, and a bunch of session musicians (one of whom is guitarist Mickey McGivern) who are nice to her even though she’s a bit nervous at first and sometimes bored by the endless retakes. One of the songs that will eventually be included on the LP has been written specifically for her, a ballad named “I Need You.” She sings it in the guileless, hopeful voice of the teenage girl she is, with a melancholic edge befitting a song of love not yet realized.

Everything about the song is big; her voice continually threatening to escape the bounds of Weatherby’s Owen Bradley-on-a-budget arrangement, itself an attempt to transcend the limitations of the Arc studio. Another track on the LP, “Put Your Arms Around Me Honey,” is further evidence of Weatherby’s ambitions, featuring as it does a highly unusual (for country music) pairing of organ and vibraphone.

The album finished, she returns home and continues to perform for another couple of years (her parents nixing the prospect of an American tour under the care of Johnny Cash’s manager Saul Holiff), until she gets married at the age of 18 and gives up singing professionally for good in favour of married life as a mother of three children, and a career as a reflexologist. The LP, Sincerely…, is not a hit, but does turn out to be one of Arc’s best releases and waits to be rediscovered by lucky diggers searching through the thrift stores of Ontario.

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2 Comments

  1. Listened to this album so many times as a kid. Great memories!

  2. duane dawson

    can we get in contact with Sharon Strong . still have her album ,loved her voice . just wanted to say thank you loved the album

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