"The Little Woman with a Big Sound" - we at Digitdoc Records can personally vouch for that moniker having watched Shar-Baby wow the audience at the inaugural Coin Acoustic Blues Festival in Andalucia, Spain over Easter this year (2009). A Delta Blues singer/guitarist/songwriter of the highest calibre, Shar has over 40 years of professional musicianship behind her.
Born and raised in South Bend, Indiana some 90 miles from Chicago, Illinois, Shar was inspired by Hubert Sumlin, Howlin Wolfs legendary guitarist. Shars father, a gospel singer who shared stages with such greats as Sam Cooke, the Dixie Humming Birds and the Alabama Blind Boys back in the fifties, bought her first electric guitar, a Harmony Rocket which she still plays to this day. And to add to her early influences, Shars Aunt Rosie dated Little Walter for a time. So, all in all, quite an environment for a blossoming blues singer.
Over the years Shar has played at many festivals in the US and played/billed with many well-known artists such as the late, great Willie King, Sam Lay, Denise LaSalle, T-Model Ford and Honeyboy Edwards. She has also been featured in a number of Big City Blues Magazine issues.
For more on Shar, why not visit the "Spotlight on Shar-Baby" page? (CLICK here).
Dirk Wissbaum (CD reviewer) : Big City Blues Magazine : Feb/March 2007
This gal is going to go far in the realm of female Delta Blues singers. With a sweet personality and a giddy nature, this original songwriter can sometimes emulate the fashionable and energetic temperament of Jesse Mae Hemphill. Her style is authentic and roughly strewn in Delta Blues. At times, even a single lingering chord of her guitar can be reminiscent of the hill country east of the Delta flatlands in northern Mississippi. The songs here are all original and sincere, and her approach to guitar is simplistic in nature... yet complicated in the realm of her individuality and styling. In 2006 when we lost so many great blues performers Shar-Baby is keeping the torch lit, illuminating this great art form known as delta and country blues. Her review on the CD "My Life" got 5 hats - as high as you can get on a review.
George Fish : Indiana Blues Monthly : June 2006
South Bends blueswoman Shar-Baby is diminutive but wiry, and anything else but frail, as she shows when she picks up her guitar and belts the blues. She appropriately dubs herself "the little woman with a big sound" and her self-produced "The Blues My Way", her first recording in 41 years of doing music professionally, amply shows it. I first saw her perform in February 2006 at Urban Elements, a downtown Indianapolis coffeehouse, where her soulful ways and original songs blew this blues writer away!
George Fish: Indiana Blues Monthly: May 2006
Last month, in my article in the April Indiana Blues Monthly on WFYIs Matt Socey, I quoted Socey on Indiana blues artists currently playing that he found noteworthy. One of them was South Bends Shar-Baby, a songwriter/guitarist. Shes a striking composer of original blues songs as well; songs that stand out not only in their tell-it-like-it-is grittiness, but also in their unflinching portrayal of the realities of African American life still today that formed LeRoi Jones book on the blues in the 1960s and the moniker he gave to his fellow black Americans that was the books title, "Blues People". Her original lyrics are strikingly original in other ways as well, notably in her themes and striking blues images that are uncommon in most blues. Such as her song about a person who cant make his money last the whole month and ends up eating "Popcorn and Green Beans". Or the way she develops the theme of thinking for oneself and using ones own mind directly, appropriately entitled "Own Mind Blues".
Shar-Baby's Album Reviews
Jim DeKoster : Living Blues : June 2011
(On the album SharBaby's Eleven o'clock Blues)
Sharon "SharBaby" Newport of Birmingham, Albama has been playing and singing the blues for more than four decades - since she was only eleven years old. In recent years she has released three CDs, performed in Europe and worked with the likes of Sam Lay and the late WiIllie King yet her name remains little known to American audiences - a failing that her latest album, subtitled both Country Blues and Queen of the Jukes, should help correct. With Tim Boykin contributing the lead guitar, bass and keyboard parts, and Jaydog on drums, SharBaby keeps things basic and down-to-earth with her propulsive rhythm guitar work and engaging vocals that shun the growls and snarls of a Tina Turner or Koko Taylor for a more down-home sound - though her singing on the slow and soulful "cause I Love Ya" is somewhat reminiscent of Barbara Lynn's. That song is among the ten written by SharBaby herself, and another, "The Stalker", was penned by her aunt, Rosie Brittain who as a young girl in Chicago dated Little Walter and helped stoke her niece's interest in the blues. Listen to this disc and you'll agree that it's a good thing she did.
Terry Clear : Blues Bytes : May 2011
(On the album SharBaby's Eleven o'clock Blues)
At last, the long awaited new CD from Alabama based Shar Baby - "11 OClock Blues".
This CD is in Shar Babys familiar and unique style of country blues, but its different from her previous albums in so many ways. With 10 self-penned tracks and one track by Rosie Brittain. Its at least as good as her last CD, if not better. The CD was recorded in Birmingham, Alabama earlier this year, 2011, and it is published in the USA by Juke Blues Publishing, and released in Europe by Digitdoc Records (who spotted Shar Baby at a blues festival in Spain a few years ago and signed her up straight away). The opening track, "Slippin " is a nice laid-back song about the perils of leaving women at home on their own. Shar Baby always seems to be able to tell a tale through her songs, and this is no exception with a storyline laid over some great guitar work and a very professional rhythm section. "Cause I Love You" is a soul blues ballad, which shows an entirely different side of this woman. She uses this song to prove that she isnt just a blues singer, she can mix it with the best of them and switch styles totally. Track three, "The Stalker" is the only track not written by Shar Baby, but it doesnt make it any less than the other tracks - its a slow and moody cautionary tale about a woman taking care when shes out on the street, and not getting picked by a stalker. Some lovely guitar breaks in this track! "Pick In My Pocket" picks up the tempo and changes the flavour of the music, this is Happy Blues! And then "Busted" slows back down a little, with a song about a woman coming home and catching her trusted husband with another woman. This track has a great driving beat, pushed along by the rhythm section in fine style. "Remember When" slows down even further with Shar Baby singing about old memories from her childhood. This lady draws a lot of inspiration from her early years, and the songs give a good illustration of her childhood and teenage years. Track seven, "Im Ready" picks up speed with a boogie shuffle featuring some really nice guitar from Tim Boykin, and it leads nicely into "Alabama Bound" with a tale about a blues artist heading for Birmingham. The tempo lifts up a little again with my favourite track on the album, "Red Eyed Snake". This is pure Shar Baby blues, as witnessed on her earlier albums, and tells the tale of a woman telling her man to find another home. Tim Boykin again drives things along with some inspired guitar playing. Getting towards the end of the CD, and the music just keeps growing - "Beer & Atmosphere" is a about taking care when youre out on the town. The backing tips a nod to some Howling Wolf riffs, and it makes a nice refreshing change of beat before leading into the last track, "Keep Your Mind To Yourself". This is a lovely ballad to finish on, and my only criticism is that it leaves the listener wanting more!! Another great CD from a vastly underrated blues artist - lets hope that the next CD isnt too far away!!
Terry Clear : Blues Bytes : April 2009
(On the album My Life)
Let me say right at the start that this CD contains some of the best blues Ive heard this year, in fact some of the best blues that Ive heard for a long time - the lady is the real deal, and they dont make blues albums like this anymore. Ok, so thats the clichés out of the way....... Shar-Baby, originally from Indiana and now living in Alabama is what the blues is all about. She writes songs about her life, starting around the age of ten, just the way blues singers have always done. Theres no pretentiousness here, just pure down-home great blues from a lady and her guitar. The album starts with "Poolroom Blues" a song Shar-Baby wrote about her early years in Indiana where she lived opposite Hoovers Poolroom and would sit on a coal bin watching the comings and goings. The lyrics are so vivid that you can close your eyes and see it. It took me a long time to get past this track, its just so compelling. "Master Dees" follows up, a chilling tale of slavery, so full of atmosphere that it makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck - slow, moody, compulsive listening. Anyone who likes the blues will absolutely love this - its John Lee Hooker in drag!!!! Track three, "Dont want you hanging around" ups the tempo a notch and brings in a little understated harmonica, Little Walter style (theres a connection here, Shar-Babys aunt was Little Walters girlfriend at one time). This is a plea from a woman who doesnt want her man hanging around where he might get into temptation. "Old Block House" tells the story of Shar-Babys early life in the projects in South Bend, Indiana - this is straight from the heart, telling of a hard childhood. The album is called "My Life" and thats just what it is - a diary of Shar-Babys life, good and bad. I really dont want to say any more about this album - I want people to get a copy of it and play it to death. What I will say is that its compelling listening, and some of the most authentic blues that has been recorded in this decade.