Shari Addison: Gospel In The Inaugural Spotlight The Chicago native was recently the runner-up on BET's Sunday Best. And with a new ministry, a new album and an upcoming appearance at an inaugural ball, her career in gospel music seems to be falling into place.
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Shari Addison: Gospel In The Inaugural Spotlight

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Shari Addison: Gospel In The Inaugural Spotlight

Shari Addison: Gospel In The Inaugural Spotlight

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

M: (Singing) You know, I think back to when I was a little girl, and my momma used to have to drag me to church, uh huh.

LIANE HANSEN, Host:

Now, some of you may recognize Sharis Addison as the runner-up on Black Entertainment Television's Sunday Best, the church-inspired version of American Idol. And tonight, the Chicago native will perform at an inaugural ball honoring the president-elect. We caught up to Shari en route to DC at member station WHRO in Norfolk, Virginia. Welcome to the program, Shari.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

M: Thank you.

HANSEN: You must be getting very excited.

M: I am extremely excited.

HANSEN: I mean, you're going to be performing at the African-American Church Inaugrual Ball. There'll be some other heavy hitters in gospel besides you: Regina Belle, you know, one, and the event is a tribute to the first African-American president of the United States. What does this performance mean to you?

M: This is an opportunity of a lifetime. I feel like I'm going down in history as well as our fourty-fourth president.

HANSEN: Uh huh.

M: And it's something that my children can tell their children, you know, your grandmother actually performed for one of the inaugural balls

HANSEN: You have four kids?

M: I have four daughters.

HANSEN: How old are they?

M: Yeah. Oh my, here we go. (Laughing) My oldest daughter is - my oldest is - and I like to go this direction because it just really messes people up - my oldest daughter is 24. The one under her is 18. The one under her is 17, and the one under her is four.

HANSEN: Oooh.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Yeah.

HANSEN: But they must be so proud of you.

M: They really are. All four of my women are extremely proud of their mom.

HANSEN: I plan to sing a song called, "It's your time." It's on my CD, and I think it's very appropriate.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT'S YOUR TIME")

M: It's your time. It not only speaks to me, walking through a new door in my life, a new chapter. It signifies anybody out there to be encouraged that when it's your time, you can't miss that circle, the time is now for you to prosper and it talks about you may have been waiting for a long time and I know I have. I've had this desire to be full time in my music ministry forever.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: It feels like forever and this is an opportunity and I feel like, it's a very befitting song for this event because they're honoring people that have carried the torch. This is their time.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT'S YOUR TIME")

M: (Singing) You're ready to be there. Ready to be seated. It's your time.

HANSEN: It's an interesting contrast, that song, to some of the others that actually appear on your album at the beginning of our conversation, we heard a snip it of - you know, this really bass-heavy jam, "I Praise You."

M: "I Praise You."

HANSEN: Yeah. I mean, that's almost like a pole or opposite end and then there are other songs that are really R&B.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I PRAISE YOU")

M: (Singing) There's hope that lies within you There's life that shine inside His love will always hold you Guide you through the climb

M: I wanted my CD to be relevant to where people are right now. And oftentimes, in our music we gear it to one group of people, one set religion or something. I wanted it to be very diverse. Some people may not have been fully raised in a church environment, but need to know about Jesus, need to be able to relate to the music and the ministry. And I feel like my music does that and it doesn't water down the massage any.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HANSEN: You do a classic there. It's a tune by Marva Heinz but I think so many people associate it with the late great James Cleveland. "Please Make Me Better."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PLEASE MAKE ME BETTER")

M: (Singing) And if it takes all the worldly things from my life Make me better, Lord (please) Make me better

HANSEN: How did you make it yours?

M: The funny thing about songs, my mother has always told me to do it like it's your last time. For it just might be, I don't know. And when I step up to a song, I never tried to mock anybody or mimic anybody. I just go for what's in me and that song was written absolutely, incredibly wonderfully so by Marva Heinz and that I didn't have to do it very much. Just sing it the way I know to sing with everything that's in me and it - a classic jazz was reborn. It came to life all over again.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PLEASE MAKE ME BETTER")

M: (Singing) Because I want to give you my best And I'd only be hurting myself If I try to give you less

M: I don't think I broke it. You know, sometimes you can take a classic and do too much. But I think it was just right.

HANSEN: One of the songs you do is with your pastor. And you wrote the song with him, Christy Harris Senior(ph), "Can't Make It Without Him." I love the way you described it because it's perfect. Three minutes and fifty seconds of sheer Pentacostal power.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CAN'T MAKE IT WITHOUT HIM")

M: (Singing) Now through the trials I've learned to pass Like never before me (unintelligible) great Now I'll be coming I'll stand here say (I don't know what I would do without the Lord)

M: I have listened to the song myself and at the end of the song, I realized, I don't think I was breathing.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: You know, and it's just like that. You know, something that is so intense but wonderful and you're enjoying the ride almost like a roller coaster, really. And once you get to the end, yeah, that's what I envisioned. Hands up in the air and you coming to a halt like whoa.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT HIM")

M: (Singing) Get on your feet Help me sing here

M: (Singing) Never knew how bad it would be To all of my friends have to believe

HANSEN: Shari Addison's new self-titled CD is on Verity Records. She'll be singing tonight at the African-American church inaugural ball. We reached her on her way to Washington at member station WHRO in Norfolk, Virginia. Thanks. Have a lot of fun.

M: Thank you, Liane. You know, I will.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT HIM")

M: (Singing) I know I'm coming back to (unintelligible)

HANSEN: You can hear full songs from Shari Addison's Album at nprmusic.org and on Tuesday, you can see all the Inauguration Day action at npr.org where you'll find live video and photo galleries of the day's events as well as up to the minute analysis and live chats. This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

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