Every so often a musician comes along who contributes to the music they play, even as a sideman, in a way that helps define a unique sound. If you’ve listened to D’Angelo, or gone to see Lalah Hathaway, or maybe checked out our list of guitarists you should know about, you’ve heard Grammy winner Isaiah Sharkey and know exactly what I’m talking about. His feel and style, much in the vein of some of his biggest influences like Wes Montgomery, Jimi Hendrix and Spanky Alford, is tasteful and right in the pocket. He can hear what the music needs and plays exactly that.

Isiah Sharkey
We had the chance to interview Isiah via e-mail about his life in music so far and what’s next for him. Aside from his new gig playing alongside John Mayer, he recently released a new single, a cover of Cream’s classic “Sunshine of Your Love.” Scroll down for the interview and don’t forget to get your copy of the single via iTunes.

Revive: Can you tell us a little about where you’re from? Where did you grow up and how did music shape and impact your early life?

Isaiah Sharkey: I grew up in Chicago, Illinois in the 90s and early 2000s on a side of town called Cabrini Green. It was a bit of a rough area which later my parents moved our family from. Music was a big part of our household and family tradition growing up. So everybody sang or played something. Playing music was always the one thing I knew I wanted to do. There were no questions about it. So it gave me direction early on and also kept me focused and out of trouble.

R: When did you first start playing music/guitar?

IS: I got my first guitar when I was 4 years old and then really started playing at a local church with my dad and brothers at the age of 7 years old.

R: What were some of your earliest professional jobs as a guitarist?

IS: I started playing guitar at local church events like Sunday morning service, Choir concerts, and musicals. As my playing began to develop and elevate, my name started traveling too. From that came other opportunities to work with notable gospel recording artists like Donald Lawrence, Smokie Norful and Vanessa Bell Armstrong just to name a few and also doing jazz gig with Chicago’s legendary Fred Anderson sitting in as a house guitarist from time to time at his club the Velvet Lounge. A little later I landed my first R&B gig with Ronald Isley of the Isley Brothers.

R: What is/was it like playing with artists and legends like D’Angelo, Lalah Hathaway and Brian McKnight, among others?

IS: Its always an amazing feeling and honor to work with them. I listened to these artists growing up so for me it’s surreal to actually know them and work with them. They are nice people as well! In working with them I’ve learned a lot about their approach to music.

R: What musical projects are in the works for you right now? What are your future plans, goals?

IS: Well I can’t say all of it because I haven’t been permitted to lol but I will say that there are some great artists that I’m working with that have incredible music that will be released soon. Mostly, I’ve been working on my own debut project that will be released sometime this September.

R: Any closing thoughts, stories, ideas you’d like to share?

IS: You can be what you want to be. Don’t be afraid to be different and educated. Give art to the world. Love Life and Live!!!! Peace

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