Raised in a small town in Northern California with her two sisters by her single mother. Sherrie Phillips spent time at the local church, where her mom was the secretary and to pass the time waiting for her mom after school she would go into the church sanctuary and turn on the mikes and pretend she was her favorite superstars, Carol King, Janis Joplin, Gladys Knight and more.
She soon found herself singing in the choir a being chosen as a soloist at the early age of 5 years old! The performance bug got under her skin and She began fronting original rock band’s in High School, and this led to fronting the band “Hangman’s Daughter”. Which was an amazing journey that spanned 15 years , 4 albums, relocation to Nashville, and led her to share the stage with such greats as , “No Doubt” , “Three Dog Night”, “Pat Bennetar”, “Eddie Money” , “Big Kenny” of “Big and Rich” and many others. The group disbanded in 2002 which led Sherrie to begin her solo career and to fulfill a life- long dream to produce and record an inspired Gospel album titled “Communion Bread” that took Sherrie back to her roots with a group that called themselves “Magdalene Messengers”.
Recording her first solo cd titled “I Am Home.” Participating in healing music in a group called AFAR which raised funds for people who needed help with recovery and her side project with Stephanie Urbina Jones called Mama’s Gotta Sing to her now current 2nd cd release titled “Nobody But Me” with new live tracks, Janis Joplin, Barbara Streisand, Jimi Hendrix covers as well as some classic Hangman’s Daughter favorites. These albums are Sherrie’s most authentic reflections of who she is now and what she wants to share with the world. In the exclusive interview that follows, we get an even better inside view on Sherrie’s personal thoughts and views.
1. How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
Sherrie Phillips: Well I began singing in church when I was about 5 years old, by the time I was a teenager I was in my first rock band !! By the age of 20 I started touring and from there it has been an awesome ride!
2. Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
Sherrie Phillips: My mom was really into various different genres so I was exposed to so many great artists. But I will say Janis Joplin was one of my first memories of being moved in my soul! I could feel her vulnerability and raw emotion in every word and have never heard anything that has that same effect on me.
3. Do you remember the title of the very first record you actually bought with your own money?
Sherrie Phillips: Pearl by Janis Joplin from the flea market
4. What do you think are the major differences, between the Motown sounds of the sixties and today’s R&B records?
Sherrie Phillips: Well probably everything!! There was such an innocence still in place in the 60’s in terms of lyrics and expression. Now a lot of explicit lyrics and more sexual content in r&b. I prefer something in the middle.. like Gladys Knight vocals with Rhianna’s sexuality!!
5. How has the experience with Hangman’s Daughter affected your career?
Sherrie Phillips: It was so much fun and really has been the foundation for most of what I do. I mean 15 years with amazing connection and so many incredible experiences changes you. Playing music with the same group of guys becomes addictive. The synchronicity is hard to replicate. Most places I play on the West Coast still come to my shows because they are fans of Hangman’s Daughters. I would not trade it for anything!
6. What impact touring with mainstream artists like Three Dog Night, Pat Benatar, Train, Eddie Money and No Doubt had on you?
Sherrie Phillips: I will say it gave me the motivation to keep singing and doing my thing no matter what. Because the same people that were buying their music were loving my music and my singing. The music business is such a crap shoot about who “makes” it mainstream and who doesn’t …. You really have to find your own passion and love for the sake of sharing your gifts.
7. How and why did the “Magdalene Messengers” project come about?
Sherrie Phillips: I have always love gospel music from my experience growing up in the church. So after I quit Hangman’s Daughter and took a small break I wanted to do an old time gospel album and it was really organic. I was living with a lady who played auto harp and she had some friends who came over to jam and they played auto harp and sang as well. So we just started doing 3 part harmonies with the harps and it was just too cool not to record and produce!!
8. You have been compared to diverse artists such as Dusty Springfield, Janis Joplin and Beth Hart, but to whom do you feel closer, on a spiritual and artist level?
Sherrie Phillips: Wow! I really have a resonance with so many amazing artists. But I would say Janis Joplin still moves me in a way that most others don’t. I think it was her authenticity most of all. She was real to the core. No apologies. I feel that is where I am at without all the drugs and self abuse!! Thank God!
9. Participating in healing music in a group called AFAR and as well as a side project with Stephanie Urbina Jones called Mama’s Gotta Sing, you have also released your 2nd cd titled “Nobody But Me”. Is personal stardom still an option or desire for Sherrie Phillips?
Sherrie Phillips: I would love to be heard and share my gifts with as many people I can !! If that brings stardom then I am really good with that! I don’t imagine knowing the fullness of what the universe has in store me.
10. If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you day after day to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why?
Sherrie Phillips: Passion.. maybe Purpose. Singing has brought me through some of the most difficult situations in life and some of the most joyous. It is always medicine to my soul.
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11. What aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most, and what aspect discourages you the most?
Sherrie Phillips: I would say now the most exciting thing is creating from a place of desire and inspiration.!! I love performing and creating without an agenda! The hardest part is the challenge to make a living doing music. I am a single mom and would love to just focus on sharing my voice and love of song and well sometimes that is difficult when the bills are staring you in the face!
12. Tell us something about the making of the album “Nobody But Me”?
Sherrie Phillips: This was a very exciting project to look back over the years and pick some of the fan favorites, some exciting new songs from a live recording here in Nashville and put it all together into one amazing cd .. I love it!
13. Is the Sherrie Phillips project a totally independent one, in that you are ‘self-financed’? If so, do see being ‘self-financed’ as a limit, or as an achievement?
Sherrie Phillips: Yes totally independent! I think there is a lot of freedom without debt to someone else. AND I see how it takes money to make money. So sometimes it can feel like a treadmill run instead of an open road where you can see around the next bend!
14. What is the best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t, but now know you should have?
Sherrie Phillips: I guess the best advice is to just keep singing and be yourself… the worst is that I had a chance to be on star search but they just wanted me not my band and so I didn’t do it. In retrospect I think I should have gone on and performed without the band.
15. At this point in your career, which is the one factor you desire more than anything else ?
Sherrie Phillips: The ability to make a living , and share my music with as many fans as I can by touring and performing on as many stages as I can!!
16. How do you market and distribute your music currently and where can fans purchase your music?
Sherrie Phillips: I sell all my product at my live shows but the best place to go is Cd baby, itunes and my website www.sherriephillipsmusic.com and you can download all my music!
17. How do you handle criticism and who has been the your most valuable (or worst) critic up until now, if any?
Sherrie Phillips: I will say that I don’t hear very much criticism or maybe it is just that I don’t really care what other people think as much as I used to. Which I have to say has a lot of freedom in it!
18. This far down the line is going Platinum or winning a Grammy still important you? Where would you like to see yourself 5 years from now?
Sherrie Phillips: I would not say that is important to me. I don’t really think it ever was! I have always just wanted to do my thing, share experiences, and great music and make a great living!! I see myself touring fairly actively here and abroad.
19. What do you think is the biggest barrier an artist like yourself has to face and overcome, to achieve any commercial success?
Sherrie Phillips: I will say we are a culture that abhors aging and glorify youth, and thin thighs!! So if anything could be a barrier for “commercial” success it would be age and size. That said, I firmly believe that if you pour yourself into your gifts your success will follow!
20. What is the ONE thing you are NOT ever prepared to do in your quest to achieve your predetermined goals?
Sherrie Phillips: Be away from my 4 year old daughter for very long.. I will say yes to most anything if she can be there or the time away is not too long.. Being a mom is my number one priority!
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