Nineties country star Kevin Sharp has passed away at the age of 43 from complications relating to cancer.
Sharp had major success with his debut album, Measure of a Man, which spawned three big hits: “Nobody Knows”, a Tony Rich Project cover that spent four weeks at #1, and two additional top five follow-up singles, “If You Love Somebody” and “She’s Sure Taking it Well.”
Sharp’s inspirational biography made his early success especially impressive. He suffered from a rare form of bone cancer that was so dire that he received a Make-a-Wish grant that introduced him to record producer David Foster. After Sharp’s cancer went into remission, they remained in contact and Foster helped Sharp secure a contract with Asylum Records.
Sharp’s success came during a transitional time in country music, before one-hit wonders became far more common but while one-album wonders were becoming prominent. Like Lari White, Paul Brandt, Michael Peterson, Deana Carter, and Ricochet, Sharp seemed to have garnered a foothold at radio, scoring several hits off a breakthrough album.
But like those other artists, radio completely ignored the follow-up project, Love is, in 1998. Despite his first set going gold, he parted ways with his label after the second collection wasn’t a success. A few years earlier, and radio would’ve probably played more of his second album. A few years later, and the burgeoning independent label scene and digital distribution methods might have made it easier for his career to maintain momentum.
Still, he found great success on the road in the new century, this time as an inspirational speaker, and he released an independent album in 2005, appropriately titled, Make a Wish. By this time, he was a spokesperson for the organization that once introduced him to Foster. His 2004 memoir’s title, Tragedy is a Gift, speaks to the positivity that defined Sharp’s work and made him such a wonderful addition to the country music scene in the latter half of the nineties.
Very sorry to hear about Kevin Sharp. His debut album was very good. Besides the songs you mentioned, I always liked “Love at the End of the Road” and the title track whose chorus appears to describe Kevin’s life:
“It ain’t how far you go
It ain’t how much you make
Son, it’s what you give
Not what you take
It’s being strong and true
To those counting on you
It’s lendin’ a hand, makin’ a stand
That’s the measure of a man”