As a pianist, vocalist, composer, educator and producer, she is known and respected throughout the Australian music industry, moving between genres with ease.
It was Judith Durham of the Seekers that spotted Sharny and made the insistent comment, “The world must hear you!” And Sharny has obliged!
How many people could claim such contrasting credits as having songs published in The Australian Hymn Book, the Australian Jazz Real Book, as well as a stint as musical director on the iconic Australian children’s television program “ Here’s Humphrey!” But this is just the tip of the musical iceberg for Sharny. With 160 songs, four completed musicals, degrees in classical piano and jazz music studies, and being known in the industry as a leading exponent of scat singing, Sharny’s versatility would appear to be her greatest asset – and one she has been happy to share with her students, who have included X-Factor winner Dami Im, Aria winning indie-pop artist Megan Washington, and Montreux Jazz Award winner Kristin Berardi. Sharny’s musicals have been performed by members of the Ten Tenors when they were boys, and a Sydney Eisteddfod senior adjudicator has urged her to publish her children’s songs “as there is not much music of this quality left, once we have used all of Miriam Hyde’s (Australia’s “queen” of children’s music).”
As a woman of substance, she is known for miraculously surviving a horrific car accident early in her career. When her family and friends were struggling in disbelief at her plight, Sharny was inspiring them with her courageous resilience, cheerfulness and miraculous healing. It comes as no surprise that what may have been adversity to some, became an even greater reason to rise up and shine in her inimitable way. Whether it be leading worship services, raising her four children as compassionate loving people in challenging circumstances, or learning to live with an auto immune disorder for the past 18 years, Sharny is powered by her faith, and refuses to let anything take her down!
Sharing the stage with James Morrison, George Golla, Emma Pask, The Idea of North, Darren Percival or Grace Knight is all in a days work for Sharny. In her capacity as Artistic Director for the Byron Bay Carols, good friends – Australian Idol winner Stan Walker and Andre Rieu’s leading lady Mirusia – were only too happy to appear on stage in Sharny’s production. Esteemed company indeed!
With an APRA award, Australian Songwriting Competition Award and numerous recordings to her name including one on the ABC Jazz label, this gal from Toowoomba, now residing in the Byron Shire, has come a long way!
Sharny Russell has touched many lives, be it through her music, her faith, her mentoring or her friendship. It’s hardly a surprise that several of the who’s who in the international jazz community have told Sharny she would “kill it in New York”.
Judging by her career so far, it’s only a matter of time.” ~ Elizabeth Lord.
“Sharny takes a piano solo to which she adds, in unison, a wordless vocal. It’s an exquisite experience to hear this . . . done so well, with such reverence for the jazz tradition. In a world of over-rated and over-stated jazz singers, Sharny Russell is a gem. Her trio could headline any jazz festival in the country.”
“. . . the relaxed, attractive and secure vocal talents of Sharny Russell. I should have known. ABC Jazz have never, in my humble experience, released an artist who wasn’t worthy . . . (Sharny is) extreme class . . . a gifted singer/pianist from whom we should hear much more.”
“The vocal students love your exercises. Their singing has become much more accurate, and they enjoy the challenge of something more technical, but that’s fun as well.”
“ . . . great songs! . . . totally ageless. I can see whole schools and choirs getting immersed in what you have created. Your gift is wonderful.”
“ . . . During my 30 years of preparing and presenting end-of-school-year performances, these musicals have been the easiest and the most gratifying to present. Surely such compositions come ‘from God with Love.”