Sharon Benson

Sharon Watercolor Sharon Violin

Music came easily to Sharon. Born into a musical family, she started singing at the age of three, harmonizing with music on the radio. Formal music instruction began during her sixth year, first with piano and then, at the age of eight, with violin. She gave public performances during elementary school and has continued ever since. Her vocal training paralleled her instrumental work, beginning in elementary school and continuing from there.
Sharon's father, at one time a professional percussionist, also played a variety of instruments from ukulele to guitar to vibes. He reveled in all styles of music, and jam sessions were a common occurrence at her house. Jazz, Rock, Funk, Blues, Bluegrass, Classical and Country music were all part of Sharon's early life, and she took it all in as she was growing up.
In her teen years Sharon thought the violin was "square" and stopped playing for almost ten years, concentrating on her vocal work and her writing. Later influences, musicians like Stephen Grappelli, Papa John Creech, and John Luc Ponty found a new audience for strings so Sharon rosined up her bow; her violin once again singing out. A song by another major influence, David La Flamme, introduced her to the playing of Don "Sugarcane" Harris, and an even richer musical grab bag to pull from.
Sharon's vocal training started with classics and show tunes, but through a variety of vocal and performance teachers moved toward pop/funk. Her instructors included Seth Riggs, Lee Sweetland, and vocal therapist Arthur Joseph; who finally broke her out of her shell and helped her focus on her dreams of performing.
Her most recent vocal work is with Wenndy Leigh MacKenzie, whom Sharon credits with bringing her voice to where she always wanted it to be. Her vocal influences include Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt, and Wynonna Judd. Grace Slick influenced her early vocals, and Bette Midler was always an influence on her musical theater work.
Arthur Joseph introduced Sharon to Ellen Geer, who helped her with her stage presence. Ellen improved Sharon's performance focus, giving her the confidence to be herself when she sings.
Geer's stage training also helped Sharon's acting. She appeared in Carrie, Deadman's Curve, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden and other movies; as well as musical theater and television. The acting has taken second place to the music, but has not been left behind.
Fulfilling another dream, Sharon was co-owner of Coffee Junction; a cabaret/coffee house in Tarzana. It was a throwback to the places she would hang out at when she was younger; places like the Bla Bla Cafe and others. She considered the Junction a musical oasis, since it allowed her to interact and perform with musicians of all styles; and gave both newcomers and seasoned veterans a place to perform to a more sophisticated audience than they might find at other small venues. It also lead to some awesome jam sessions.
With her current band, Soul Dogs, Sharon continues to explore a variety of musical styles, and to expand her already considerable talents.