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A Chat With Sherry Kennedy: From Boogaloo Walk Band to High Performance Woman

Updated: Apr 11

This interview by Mark Boogieman was originally posted here.

Sherry Kennedy was a well-known performer in Lethbridge in the late '70's and has been a working musician ever since. Not only has she had tremendous success recording a number of albums she now passes on her passion and knowledge of performing to others who want to learn the craft. She has a new album, is getting ready to launch a tour in Europe and is a distributor for a new learning tool called Hearfones. She took a moment out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

Talk about your early bands in Lethbridge. What was that scene like?

I was fortunate to be able to play in a talented group called “Boogaloo Walk Band” This was not my first band but it was probably the most memorable. Back in the mid 70’s it was a great scene in Lethbridge. Young musicians were able to hone their craft and really get to know what they were doing. We didn’t get paid a lot but for us, it was more than just the money. We were little superstars in our minds!! At the Cabarets people would line up around the block to get in to hear us and that was a truly awesome experience. We wanted to be good and we wanted to give them what they wanted. We practised at least once or twice a week in some garage that we rented. We had a bank account which a lot of young bands didn’t have so we could do a few more things for promo etc. It was a terrific learning experience. In that particular band the members were…..Gerry Heibert (keys), Eric Geisrieter (drums), Reid Seibert (bass), Jeremy Etherington (guitar), and me…Sherry Kennedy (voice, tambourine and a mean cowbell, :).

I was also very fortunate to play with amazing keyboardist Russ Hauser, drummer Brad Valgardson, and guitarist Mark Boh.

Discuss the level of musician talent in Lethbridge.

When I was in Lethbridge, the people I played with were the very best in my opinion. I know that there were many other terrific musicians that I did not have the pleasure to work with and I am assuming that they were tops as well. Lethbridge was always very talented in so many artistic arenas.

We did The Fantasticks together back in the mid70s. I played your dad. (Geez) Other than me inadvertently spitting in your face, what do you remember about that show?

Yes, the spit trickling down my cheek is something that I will never forget Mark!! I can remember we were supposed to be having a bit of a father daughter spat, no pun intended and you just took it to the next level. We could hardly contain ourselves from laughing out loud. I didn’t even wipe it off….. oh my that is inexperience isn’t it. haha. I also gave Kim (the boyfriend) a bloody nose. Live theatre, you never know what you are going to have to handle. WE also went on tour with that show, it was another incredible experience and what a way to hone your craft again! You and I also did the Incredible life of Walter Mitty…..I do believe you were Walter

When did you know music was going to be your life?

I always knew. There was nothing else but that really. I started performing when I was five years old. I had an act with my very smart dog….he played dead while I sang an old Elvis song “Old Shep”. The audience was in tears, you can beat a kid and a dog!!

Who were some of the big influences in your life getting to the love of music?

Of course, Barbra Streisand, Julie Andrews were the beginning female artists and then there was ….. Natalie Cole, Chaka Kahn, The Stylistics, Bette Midler, The Jackson 5, Dionne Warwick, Martha Reeves, Dianna Ross, Bernadette Peters, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday and the list just goes on and on and on.

You’ve recorded in Nashville. What’s the experience like?

That was another highlight of my career! I was able to work with the best session players around like, Tommy Wells, Brent Mason, Kerry Marx, Michael Spriggs, Gordon Mote, Duncan Mullins, Wanda Vick, Melissa du Val, and a tremendous talent Mark Moseley, my producer. I could not have asked for more, it is not only a great product that I walked away with but I learned more than I ever imagined and that is what it is all about…..learning more and more. Who knew your brain could be filled and then filled with more amazing knowledge.

You’ve done a lot of theatre. What are some of the highlights?

Hmmmm, that is a difficult question because to me every night in Theatre there is a highlight and sometimes, that take a while to register. (I mean to say that even when you think something sucks, what are you going to take away from that experience and mostly, it will be a highlight of the learning curve.)

You do a lot of work with kids. What’s your main message?

Well, I like them to know that this is just the beginning and if they think they are good now…..just wait, learn and listen because it only gets better. Be open to change and to try all kinds of music….it is like going to a buffet try as much as you can, you never know what you are going to love. (and of course what is going to

You had an interesting encounter with one of the Rolling Stones in Banff. Tell us about that.

Oh yes, that was a highlight and kind of a low light to begin with. I was doing a show there and all ready to go when in walks Ron Wood. Well, everyone started screaming and cheering and he and his entourage were just as cool as could be. My heart was sinking, omg, how am I going to compete with that. (every performer’s fear, haha) Anyway, he sits down and of course, I have to go on….he was awesome. Cheering, clapping very very terrific and supportive. He wanted me to go party afterward but I was a little shy so I got my picture taken and said, thanks see ya!! Oh ya, he came up on stage and sang as well. It really was a highlight after all…..

Aside from music, what’s important to you in life? (getting deep here)

My family is the most important thing to me in my life. I have two kids who are grown now but they are and always will be my kids!! Any parent knows what that feels like. You just want them to be happy, healthy and successful in whatever their chosen field happens to be.

I am also blessed with the best friends that I hold dear to my heart.

You’ve just found a Genie in a Bottle. And he grants you 3 wishes. What are they? (Not so deep…and don’t give me peace in the world)

George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Ryan Reynolds, hahaha, kidding!!

I would like to have an International Art Gallery pick up my paintings and have a showing of my pieces. I have sold about 60 paintings which is awesome. When I paint, I paint to music….it doesn’t matter what genre…..hip hop, jazz, blues, classical, rock, opera, country….whatever….the music inspires me and dictates colors, shapes, etc. I love love love it.

You’ve done all genres of music from rock to jazz. Is there one that you feel you’re better suited to?

It really depends on how I am feeling and what the gig is….if it is a Country gig for some reason I get my head into that genre and it is my favorite. But no matter what I do, I think I have a little bit of the flavor of all of them coming out of me. Except if I were to do something more classical.

Best concert you’ve ever been to.

I really think the best concert that I have ever been to was Reba McEntire’s, Queen’s, Rod Stewarts, Garth Brooks, Tony Bennets…..can’t decide what the best was…..hmmmm

If a kid comes to you to take voice lessons and you know he/she couldn’t carry a tune in Costco tote bag, what do you say to them?

I think there is a voice in everyone and until you allow that person to discover what it is you may be surprised. I wonder what Bob Dylan’s teacher said to him….

I have just become the Canadian Distributor of my new passion called Hearfones. They are unbelievable, I have had people who you would think would never even glimpse the note and when they use these fantastic little gadgets, they are hearing in a different and more pure way. It is unbelievable what they are like. I made this discovery in Nashville and choirs and soloist and speakers and knocking the door down to get a pair. Truly awesome! So, I wouldn’t tell the kid or the adult to hit the road, cuz you just never know…..

You’re given the opportunity to have supper with one of your idols. Who would that be?

Barbra Streisand hand down!!!!!

What’s the best moment you’ve ever had on stage?

Gosh, there are too many to pick.

Talk about your latest album.

I love this album, it is different again. It is called High Performance Woman, which is kind of what I have become. I co-produced this and that was an awesome experience as well. Again, I feel like it is just another notch on my belt.

Not to give away your age, (but you did perform in bars in the 70s) does that work against you in any way for getting an album recorded and then played on a radio station?

Well 2014 was an awesome year for me….I recorded another album and the album before “Little Secret” was released to the US, it topped the top 50 Country album charts as #35. My song the Legend of Rainbow Powers, which I wrote went to #3 on the Country Charts in the US. I enjoyed #1 in Norway with another song from that album. It received great reviews in UK, Ireland, Europe, Australia, Japan, NZ. I am in the midst of organizing a tour in Ireland and UK for this year sooooooo…… I think I am doing ok.

You’ve got an unlimited budget and you can get whoever you want for one night for one big show. Who’s in your band?

I love the musicians that I am currently working with. They are all world class Canadians and I wouldn’t change that.

What do you want to accomplish before you put away your microphone for the last time?

I really doubt I will ever put away my microphone Mark. I will probably be burned with it in my hand!! This past week I was at a singing conference and one of the most incredible singers there was a 90 year old Diva she had tones like you would not believe. I have no intentions of hanging it up for a very long time. As long as I have fans and listeners, I will be there.


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