Sherri Harding releases “Don’t Tell Me How I Feel” (Interview)

Sherri Harding

Sherri Harding Releases “Don’t Tell Me How I Feel” From Upcoming A Million Pieces Album

Ottawa singer Sherri Harding has paid her dues.

After years on the road in various bands, playing everything from juke joints in the Northwest Territories to Armed Forces shows in Bosnia and the Middle East, home beckoned, and she finally returned to Ottawa. Eventually, like many in a government town, she ended up in the Public Service but lived a double life, often having her guitar under her desk, ready to head out to a gig directly after the 9 to 5 grind.

Sherri is thrilled to showcase her debut album A Million Pieces, with a CD Release Party at The Gladstone Theatre on Saturday, March 25, 2023, at 7:30 PM with special guest Jeff Rogers.

For this special performance, Sherri has assembled a powerhouse ten-piece band with some of Ottawa’s finest musicians and singers, including several members of the Cooper Brothers. Sherri will perform her new album in its entirety as well as some classics inspired by her Muscle Shoals experience.

In 2016, she got the chance to join hometown heroes, The Cooper Brothers.

“I remember feeling so proud singing “The Dream Never Dies” for the first time on stage with them,” says Sherri.

After falling in love with her voice and realizing that, with all that talent, Sherri really deserved a serious shot – not as a backup singer, but out front – Dick Cooper started writing an album of songs for her during COVID. The result is Sherri’s first original album -A Million Pieces.

From day one, Dick had a single place in mind to record Sherri. The same place that so many renowned female singers like Aretha Franklin and Etta James and Linda Ronstadt, and Mavis Staples chose to record – Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

In August 2022, with Dick producing, they headed down to the iconic recording Mecca where they assembled a stellar line-up for the project, including David Hood (The last surviving “Swamper”), Kelvin Holly (Little Richard, Bobby Bland, etc.) Lynn Williams (Delbert McClinton, The Wallflowers), Clayton Ivey (The Staple Sisters, Thelma Houston), Spooner Oldham (Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge), and the Muscle Shoals Horn Section.

With so many legendary musicians, the result is a killer mix of musical styles. The songs range from flat-out, hook-laden rock (“The System”) to beautiful soul ballads (“Lady of the House”) and up-tempo horn-infused pop as on the first single, “Don’t Tell Me How To Feel.”

Watch the video for “Don’t Tell Me How I Feel” below and learn more about Sherri Harding via our mini-interview.

Care to introduce yourself?

Hi there, I’m Sherri Harding. I am a vocalist and musician based in Ottawa, ON.

Tell us about the process of writing “Don’t Tell Me How I Feel.”

I would love to, but I didn’t write it.

This wonderful song is the first single released from the album A Million Pieces.

All of the songs were written by the incredible songwriter Dick Cooper of The Cooper Brothers.

What’s it like being a musician in Ottawa? What are the industry and fans like?

There is a thriving music community in the Ottawa area. I am always amazed at the number of full-time players we have in our city. Things are just starting to get back to some kind of normal, but as everywhere, Covid took a big bite out of the live venues available.

The fans are EXTREMELY loyal and supportive. We sold out the 210-seat venue for the release party in a week.

Who was the first Canadian artist to blow you away?

The first concert I ever attended was Ann Murray with my mum. Her flawless caramel alto voice was a big inspiration to me, but the first Canadian artist to truly blow me away was Joni Mitchell. She is the total package. Her creative songwriting, musical ability, and extremely versatile and flexible vocal prowess make her one of the best that Canada has ever produced.

You’ve been making music for a while now. What’s one piece of advice you can offer to those starting out?

I can give a few…

Be passionate about what you do. Don’t let anyone squash your dreams. Be respectful of other people’s time. Be prepared. Above all, keep having fun with your music. It is a gift.

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