Award winning singer-songwriter Sharmane, whose hit single “I Surrender” was recognized with the 2008 Unity Award for Devotional Song of the Year, has been in the studio working on her third album. The album, titled Leap of Faith, is tentatively set for release on May 30. Sharmane wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on the album, though a few of the songs were written by Nashville songwriters.
Though this album will target the youth and teen audience, fans of all ages and denominations will appreciate her message. Sharmane continues to stay true to herself and her faith, performing in churches and Christian schools of many denominations across the United States. “I feel most comfortable being who I am, being myself,” she explained. “And that is singing the music, Praise and Worship in the church. God has given me this gift and I feel that I shouldn’t hinder myself in any way.” She certainly has not let any challenges prevent her from recording her new album.
Sharmane and her crew took a break from recording Saturday, and welcomed me into producer Tony Morra’s Franklin, Tennessee studio, The Downtown Batterie.
What has been the process of creating this album?
I started writing music for this album, probably last August, eight months ago, or so. I collaborated with many wonderful songwriters, some of which are in the Nashville area. I got together with my vocal coach, Janet Kenyon, who is amazing. She has coached many wonderful artists here in Nashville: Melinda Doolittle from American Idol, Taylor Swift, and Jordan Pruitt and many, many others. I’ve been working with her on the initial stages of the music that I wrote and arranged. Then at that point, when all the music was done, I submitted all my potential songs to the producer. Then he picked eleven out of those. There will be twelve songs on the album, one of which will be the single that I released to radio called “I Surrender,” which has been a tremendous blessing and hit on the radio worldwide.
The musicians came in last month and cut all the tracks, and then this week I’m here doing vocals. Then I come back in two weeks. We’ll finish up the vocals and do some background stuff, and then from there, that’s when we start mixing and mastering. We should be done in May.
What can we expect from this album?
This is something very different than I’ve done before, and it’s very exciting for me. My last self-titled album, my sophomore album, “Sharmane” is more of an adult contemporary record. This one is a total pop-rock album. It’s got some really cool funkiness to it and also some really great rock—all glorifying God, of course. It’s a great pop-rock Christian album.
My market within the last year and a half—a lot of the shows that I do are for the youth, teens, and young adults. That’s why I felt inspired to do an album like this that could relate to them. A lot of the music that I wrote is about real life situations that all of us deal with, but especially the youth in today’s world.
There are some really rockin’ songs on there, so I don’t know yet which ones we’ll release to radio.
Can you explain the album’s theme?
No matter how old we are, we should all trust in God and take that leap of faith, knowing that his plan is in the palm of his hands. He’s got great things planned for us; we just have to trust him. And of course there will be a song on there called “Leap of Faith.”
Are the songs going to be Praise and Worship music?
They’re worship, but I would say that Adult Contemporary songs that I had on my last album were more of the Praise and Worship, where this one is more up-tempo. But I do have a couple worship songs on there. I have one called “I Am Yours” which would totally be a worship song.
Do you have a favorite song yet?
I love all twelve. I really, really do. I just feel so blessed because every one of them I feel really strongly about. You’ll have to ask me later, once we release it.
What are your plans for promoting the album?
The album will be released in May, and come August I’ll be on the road to promote the new album. I’ll be traveling throughout the United States doing concerts in churches, also private Christian schools throughout the US.
Aside from being a singer, I’m also a speaker. I’ve got youth programs that I offer, which are in conjunction with this album; a lot of the songs relate to what they go through. I have one workshop called “Stuck in the Middle” for middle school kids. I have another for high school kids called “Find Me, Cleanse Me, Take Me There.” That is basically “Find Me”—let me find out who this person is that God created me to be, “Cleanse Me”—knowing that I am a sinner but I can be forgiven, and “Take Me There”—take me to that place that you want me to go to in life and show me how I can make a difference in life.
“Stuck in the Middle” is “I’m not in Elementary school anymore, and I’m not in High School yet, but it’s ok.” You can’t do what the crowd is telling you to do; you need to stand up and stand out. Be that person that God wants you to be, knowing that when Christ was living on Earth, and when he was first born, there were so many times he was stuck in the middle. He has his mother and his father holding him, and he’s in the middle. The Last Supper: he’s in the middle. Leonardo da Vinci painted that picture, and Christ is in the middle of that picture. And when he’s on the cross, he’s in the middle. So although Christ was stuck in the middle, he’s inviting us—although we are ordinary, we can make extraordinary differences in the world.
What artists have you been listening to lately?
I love Brooke Fraser, I love Francesca. She’s up for a Dove Award and she’s so great. Matt Maher is one of my good friends, so I listen to his stuff.
Who are your musical influences?
Natalie Grant, Nicole Nordeman, Kathryn Scott, I could go on and on.
With such a busy schedule, how do you refocus and reconnect with your family and your faith?
People have labeled me as a spiritual champion for faith and family. I think it is so important to connect that faith and family bond, that’s how I connect with my faith and family. When I’m on the road I connect so much with the people that I meet. I love that. I love seeing families, and parents coming up to me and saying, “I have a teenager and I want you to pray for him because he’s struggling right now.” I love keeping in touch with those people, and emailing them saying, “I’m still praying for Jacob, is he still having a hard time?” I love that connection. Whenever I’m home I love just being with my family and praying together and just reconnecting.
Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
I really think it’s going to be exciting for everyone to hear the new album, because, like I said, it is something very different. I feel that God gave me a challenge and it’s our goal in life never to turn away from the challenges that He gives us. Just to know that by trusting Him and surrendering everything to Him, knowing that although our times our tough, we can take the risk and take that leap of faith.