- Associated Press - Sunday, December 3, 2017

FAIRMONT, W.Va. (AP) - Rachel native Isaac Sharp shared his story of becoming a recording artist in Nashville and his current charity efforts to give back to his new community in Tennessee.

Sharp grew up in Rachel and attended the Nazarene Church in Mannington, which is where he was first introduced to music around 12 years old.

“My parents worked in medicine, and no one in my family was musical whatsoever,” Sharp said. “But I started taking piano lessons, and at first I hated everything about the idea of taking piano lessons. No 12-year-old wants to be forced to sit down for an hour and play piano. All I wanted to do was play the guitar. It started this cycle of really being interested in music.”

As a teenager, Sharp found himself playing at every chance he could get, including local fairs, churches and with bands in the area. When he was 14 years old, Sharp was asked to play at the Union Mission in Fairmont as part of a Christmas concert series.

“It was the first time anyone would let me play more than just singing at church,” Sharp said. “That memory is very near and dear to me.”

Sharp then spent a lot of time learning about music and studio recording at a local studio in Osage, which at the time was called Blues Alley Studios.

“It was run by Josh Swiger, who basically let me pay almost nothing to come and let me harass them and make terrible-sounding songs as a teenager who was overly excited about working in a recording studio,” Sharp said with a laugh. “Josh taught me a little bit about the whole process of recording.”

Sharp continued his education at Fairmont State University as a marketing major where he worked directly with Bob Weaver, his professor and advisor.

“Ironically, Bob’s son Chris who is also a West Virginia native lives in Nashville as a country recording artist,” Sharp said. “So Bob kind of pushed me further into the whole idea that Nashville could be a thing for me.”

When Sharp was only 17, he received a phone call that would later be told as the beginning of his professional music career.

“At the Nazarene Church in Mannington, there was a lady whose son was from Worthington, and now lives in Nashville as a record producer and has won several awards. When I found this out, I basically hounded him until he would answer my phone calls and talk to me about the studio and music in general,”?Sharp said.

“At 17, I got a phone call from Steve Allen, that record producer, and he asked me, ‘What are you doing tomorrow?’ I said, ‘Well I’m probably going to school.’ He said, ‘We are doing a recording session with Kevin Max, and if you can be here by noon and stay the rest of the week, we will give you a credit on the record,’” Sharp said.

“I hung up, and it was just the coolest thing I have ever been offered.”

Sharp admitted lying to his parents because he told them that he had a place to stay while he was there, but in reality, he didn’t know anyone other than Steve Allen.

“I was afraid that if I told Steve Allen that I?didn’t have a place to say, he would tell me not to worry about coming down, so I slept on a bridge for seven nights,” Sharp said.

During that week in Nashville, Sharp had the opportunity to work on a record by Kevin Max, a Christian singer and songwriter in a band known as DC Talk.

“As I was leaving, Steve told me I did a really great job that week and that if I enjoyed it and could be back in two weeks, he would give me an internship. He told me I wouldn’t get paid much, but I would learn a lot,” Sharp said.

“I was on cloud nine. When I got back to Fairmont, I packed my stuff, found the first apartment I?could find and afford, and I moved to Nashville.”

Sharp worked as an audio engineer and production intern at the Sound Shop, a recording studio on Music Row in Nashville, for two years until he was hired by the studio to do production and writing.

“For every big artist that comes through, there are probably like five or six local artists or bands from all over that come and record. A lot of their music might not be refined, so I would help people grow and mature in the profession,” Sharp said.

While working in the studio, Sharp also starting writing his own music and was influenced by a mentor to write 365 songs, one for each day of the year.

“I think I wrote a song about grilled cheese once,” Sharp said with a laugh. “As I wrote all these songs, I?started realizing I?was really into soul music, a lot of groove and R&B.; The ones I loved the most were songs that had a groove swing, fun and feel-good element to them, like Justin Timberlake mixed with Marvin Gaye.”

Sharp is currently working on his very first album, and he anticipates that his first single will be ready to release in February. While working on his album and in the studio, Sharp really wanted to record a Christmas song for charity.

“I remembered the first time I was ever given the chance to play was at Christmas in Fairmont at the homeless shelter, and that hit me really hard,” Sharp said. “I started looking for outlets to give back in Nashville, and I found a charity called the Bridge Ministry. So the song is available on my website for a donation or your choice, and all of the proceeds will go toward children in poverty and the homeless.”

On Dec. 19, Sharp and other volunteers with the Bridge Ministry will take part in an event called the Bridge to Christmas, where they will hand out presents under the Jefferson Street Bridge in downtown Nashville.

“The most ironic thing is that it is the same bridge that I?slept on as a semi-homeless person during my very first week in Nashville,” Sharp said. “I’m really excited about this, and I hope to make an impact in the community.”

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