"Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it all at once!"


An exclusive HITS dialogue with Maia Sharp by Kerry Husband
Singer-songwriter Maia Sharp is on a major roll. The daughter of legendary songwriter Randy Sharp (Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Linda Ronstadt), Maia released her self-titled sophomore album on Concord last summer. She says her father has always encouraged her. "There is a constant working and learning relationship between us," though her talents go beyond her dad’s country music roots.

On top of her own touring and recording activity, Sharp was tapped by Art Garfunkel to take part on an album he was working on with Buddy Mondlock. Producer Billy Mann introduced Garfunkel to Maia, who ended up contributing several songs she had previously written to the project, which evolved into a musical trio. The three are currently out on tour supporting the album Everything Waits to be Noticed, released earlier this month on EMI-Manhattan, with the first single "Bounce."

Sharp’s songs have been recorded by Dixie Chicks (the title track to their current Top 5 Home album), Cher and Kim Richey, and she has collaborated with the likes of Carole King and Jules Shear. Garfunkel, a fan, says she’s in the fine tradition of artists like Bonnie Raitt, Christine McVie, Shawn Colvin and Sarah McLachlan. HITS' own Kerry "Looking for the Perfect" Husband crosses a bridge over troubled water to get the whole story.

In your wildest dreams, did you ever imagine that you would be writing, singing, recording and touring with Art Garfunkel?
This is something that I did not plan on doing as a child, but it's so cool! [Producer] Billy Mann started the project. He also wrote on some of the songs. He knows all of us separately and Art expressed that he wanted to write some songs. He wrote prose and some wonderful lines that helped the process.

When did you write your first song?
There's that recording from when I was five that’s included at the end of my CD. I didn't really start writing songs full-time until I was in my early 20s. Saxophone was my first instrument. I learned how to play the sax and read music, so I approached it from an instrumentalist’s viewpoint. I had been playing sax for years before I started to write songs. I thought I was going to be a saxophone player, but it wasn't quite everything. So I started to look for that thing that was everything. And that turned out to be writing. Every song for me has its own little story. I usually start with melody and the lyrics fall in after that. Once I started writing songs, that turned to absolutely be my first love.

Was it scary for you to take that first step?
It was scary and it still is every time I sit down with someone new. I write with other people more than I write alone. It's always a little frightening. Your ego is on the line; your ideas are on the line. Each time you say to yourself, "God, I know I've done OK for the last thousand writing sessions, but what if this is the one time I'm stupid?"

When you recorded your first song, how long did it take you to play it for someone?
It took awhile and I'm sure I sucked! I probably shouldn't have played those first few songs for anybody. I learned how to get around in a studio first, so I could make everyone leave when I wanted to record my vocals. So I was alone in the studio for those first few songs. It took me 4 or 5 songs before I played them for anybody and it was really scary! Nobody's going to insult your first few songs. Everybody was really supportive no matter how lame they may have been.

Did you ever feel like throwing in the towel?
Well, in a bluffing sort of way. Just to throw a fit really. Because there’s no second choice for me. This is what I'm going to do. I’m either going to write songs for other artists (which I love) or touring and recording. Or all of the above. Right now, I'm managing to keep them all up in the air.

How did the Dixie Chicks come to record your song, "Home," as the title track to their new album?
My publisher actually got that for me. I've been signed to Major Bob Music in Nashville for about two years now and they've been hitting the pavement. They're real old school! They play the song for everybody involved in the project. Being a staff songwriter is out of fashion in a lot of places. Most artists write for themselves. So to be an outside writer on an album is really hard. I've written a handful of songs for other artists and it's such a thrill! I love being able to walk into a record store and see somebody else's album with my name on it!

With everything happening for you right now, what’s been the highlight?
All of these things coming to fruition at the same time. I take every day and jump through the hoop flaming in front of me because there are so many things happening at once. It forces me to be in the moment because if you look beyond that, you'll end up in a fetal position rocking back and forth in a corner somewhere. Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it all at once!

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