Sheri Miller, armed with her acoustic guitar, her electric sunburst 1969 Guild guitar, her Yamaha keyboard, and a pen and paper, began to write songs. Dozens of songs. She had a great love and a deep, soulful connection to music, as her mother was an opera singer and classical piano player, and her uncle a recording engineer.
During the evenings, Sheri was hard at work, paying her musical dues, working incessantly as a solo musician in the big city; fearlessly singing her heart out, banging on her guitar. Playing 4-hour covers gigs in bars and hotels, sometimes 5 nights a week. In the daytime, Sheri played keyboards and sang in a rock band for babies, as a music teacher.
In between these hours, when not tirelessly working to pay her rent as a musician, Sheri passionately wrote
hundreds of pages of loose-leaf-strewn lyrics, dozens upon dozens of songs; channeling her anguish and heartbreak from a major love break-up, and dealing with tumultuous heart-breaking family issues. Sheri poured her struggles, inner demons and inner angels, and heart-drenched stories into creating a new, magnificent album; an album with integrity, soul, and artistry she’d be proud of.
Sheri had released her critically-acclaimed debut record in 2008, “Mantra,” which featured an underground hit, “Right Here, Right Now.” Upon releasing “Mantra,” Sheri was named one of Music Connection’s “Hot 100 Unsigned Artists,” played on KCRW and Q104.3 FM, and asked to join a 4-part vocal harmony group in Nashville, The Delilahs, which soon signed to Sony Music. Sheri began co-writing with icon J.D. Souther (The Eagles), Jill Sobule, Shawn Mullins, Marcus Hummon (Dixie Chicks), Al Anderson (NRBQ) and many other incredible songwriters. But the group fell apart, and Sheri came back to New York with new inspiration.
But who would produce this authentic artist’s songs? Sheri reached out and contacted the amazing and legendary producer Kevin Killen (U2, Peter Gabriel). She played him a few songs from the inspired hurricane of titles she was writing, and shortly thereafter, with great joy, Sheri and Kevin began recording the new album “Winning Hand.”
Enlisting the all-star band of incredible, legendary musicians Will Lee (Fab Faux, CBS Orchestra), Charley Drayton (Paul Simon, Neil Young, Johnny Cash) and Gerry Leonard (David Bowie, Suzanne Vega), the artistic, poetic, and super-catchy songs of “Winning Hand” took shape. “Spoons,” the super-hooky, uptempo, beloved song dedicated to the art of “spooning” in bed. “Winning Hand,” the inspiring, “go for it, risk it all” anthem, with the uplifting, positive message “Bet we lay down a winning hand.” “Satellite,” a Led Zeppelin meets Joni Mitchell seductive love song, beckoning a lover in outer space; written in a rare, strange guitar tuning invented by Sheri. “Everybody Feels This Way Sometimes,” a highly melodic, deeply confessional, raw song, lifting with an anthemic chorus. “Hungry For The Truth,” a sassy, attitude-filled, poetic, rebellious declaration of owning one’s individuality.
Soon enough, the songs were recorded and “Winning Hand” was finished. Sheri had labored hard, faced struggles, but emerged proud of this CD, and couldn’t wait for the world to hear it. She excitedly released the stunning songs of “Winning Hand” out into the world, and watched these songbirds fly away. Higher and higher they went. Sheri smiled. She couldn’t wait to see what happens next.
How do you describe your music to people?
It's the honest shiver you get when you wake up on a chill autumn morning, and throw the warm blanket from your body, to face the crisp morning air. It's the soulful cry of a white morning dove, circling her nest, looking for her missing chicks. It's the whisper of the wind on your neck, by the ocean stretch, as it whips your hair in the salty air.
It's the magic swirl of campfire sparks, rising to the black sky, telling stories we've dreamed of, but never heard waking. It's the mystery, the kisstory, the pure blisstory of music.
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
I've been writing songs since I was a wee little one. Waaay back over yonder. When I was 7 and 8 years old. I was taking classical piano lessons from a certain Mrs. Benedict, which btw was an all too fitting name. Jeez, she was something. She was very strict and super mean, and would bang my fingers down on the piano. Sooo, instead of practicing piano, I rebelled. I was creatively tuned and tapped into writing my own creations; my own original songs on the piano. I'd write fully formed songs-- melody, chords and lyrics on the piano. Dozens of them. I still have these 8-year old songs in a wild, stapled paper looseleaf songbook. The first song I ever wrote that I remember was called "The Lost Tribe." I played that song for hours, on the piano and sang it, until my mother almost strangled me. I got started when I was a child with songwriting. And here I am. A big child.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Write songs. Sing songs. In front of people. Swim in the Caribbean ocean. Swim in beautiful calm pools in Tahiti, surrounded by lush green trees. Shop for 50's rockabilly Betty Paige clothing. Eat any linguine pasta with pink vodka sauce. Drink vodka. Wear things that are dark purple. Travel to places where I don't understand one word in the language, yet perfectly understand everything. Eat enough chocolate to get fat. Learn about all things magical. Walk through rain forests and Redwood forest. Watch Steve Martin and Woody Allen movies. Watch an occasional Jean Claude Damme film.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
Time. I just wish there was 25 hours in a day. And getting the word out about my songs. So people know they exist, so they can enjoy them.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I always had this weird gut knowingness in my bones. I don't know why. But that if I was to become a songwriter, singer, and artist, something good would happen. Something quite big would happen. I can't explain why I felt that way. I just did. So I guess, that I would maybe be a singer-songwriter, musician and artist.
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
I've been blessed to have been surrounded by incredible musicians in New York, Nashville and LA. I've been a little orange ocean sponge to the songwriting, production and musicianship, by the incredibly talented I've worked with. I have so much still to learn, a long way to go on my journey, to where I want to be. And now I know the heights I can reach, by the incredible talent of the people around me.
What other artists out there do you love?
I love The Beatles, Elliot Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Louis Armstrong, Bob Dylan, Jeff Buckley, Neil Young, The Beach Boys, Jon Brion, Willie Nelson, Sara Tavares, Lucinda Williams, Cole Porter, Ray Charles, Bill Evans, Chet Baker, Joni Mitchell.
What does your future hold?
Truth be told. I am a little psychic. Just a little. The future hold some good things in store. For us all.