Sometimes we miss out on how truly special someone really is until its too late…
I heard on Sunday we had lost Country Singer Kevin Sharp.. My immediate thought, “Why does this name sound so familiar?” Right away I looked Kevin up when his discography came up on the search engine. Immediately I had a flashback of riding in the car with my mom and 2 sisters, jamming out to the local country radio station. “If You Love Somebody” was one of those familiar upbeat songs I remember singing along to… That song came out in 1997, I was a then carefree 7 year old who loved country music, cowboy boots, and even donned my cowboy hat and vest for my birthday party that year. As I went on to read his biography, I came across how he came into the music business and it hit home for me. Kevin was not just another singer who broke in conventionally, rather it started with a wish.
Born in Redding, California, Kevin was from a musical family of 7 kids. The Sharp family moved to Weiser, Idaho, when Kevin was 7, to open up a restaurant. The Sharp family decided relocate back California, this time to Sacramento, Kevin’s second year of high school. Along with singing, Kevin was also quite gifted with athletic talent. It was during this time that Kevin began experiencing some pain and fatigue. Kevin was later diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, called Ewings Sarcoma, that had also spread to his lungs. With a slim chance of survival hanging in the balance, Kevin was introduced to the Make A Wish Foundation (a foundation that grants wishes to children with life threatening illnesses) . Kevin’s wish was to meet record producer David Foster. It was David’s friendship, through Kevin’s 2 grueling years of chemotherapy and radiation, that kept Kevin going and eventually got his foot in the door for his music career. Kevin’s cancer went into remission, beyond everyone’s belief in 1991.
It was in 1996 that Kevin was signed to Asylum Records and it was that November that he debuted his first album, “Measure of a Man“. The Album’s first single was a cover of Tony Rich‘s “Nobody Knows” and was a huge success, spending 4 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles and Tracks chart. That album also produced two Top 5 hits with “She’s Sure Taking It Well” and “If You Love Somebody“. Kevin was more than just a country singer- he went on to be a spokesperson for Make A Wish and is currently the only wish child to be a wish request. What a legacy, to have cancer and beat it, fulfill a dream that started with a wish, and fulfill the wishes of children by meeting them at their request.
This all hit home for me because I am involved with children who have cancer. What started out with making a blanket for a friend, who at 12 was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, morphed into making blankets for her friends and the other kids at the local hospital, and ended up in me crocheting hats- and them being requested and talked about through social media outlets. Its times like these that I am thankful that we have social media today. Back in 1997 I didn’t even know what internet was.. Now we have the privilege of following our favorite stars, seeing how they started off and how their career is progressing, see how they spend their off time, and even see the time they devote to charities and organizations. It makes it a lot easier to feel like you really know the person behind the great voice that you listen to. I wish I had known earlier about Kevin…. It makes listening to his music so much more than just listening to a great song, I can sit back and listen and know how much he overcame to get that career. It makes me thankful for an organization like Make A Wish, that Kevin was able to share his gift of song with the world, and allows me the opportunity to have met 18 cancer kids last year here in Orlando on their Wish Trips.
Who knew, my long time love of country music and devotion to children with cancer would have intersected long before I could even imagine it. It might be too late to thank him personally for what a great role model he was, but I know that I will forever hold his journey with me, to be reminded of anytime I hear one of his songs. The world lost a great man that day, Heaven gained great voice! Sing on in our hearts forever Kevin!
Kevin passed away April 19th, at 10:00pm from from complications of previous stomach surgeries and digestive issues.