The Way You Make Me Feel by Sharon Rae North – reviewed by Chris Mann


Ohio native Sharon Rae North sings many shades of jazz and writes her own compositions.  She has opened for major artists, such as Patti LaBelle and has headlined at numerous events, including the 2006 Summer Concert Series in Durham, North Carolina.

Her soul/funk credentials look good too: she has worked with Bootsy’s keys man Joel "Razor Sharp" Johnson, Michael "Kidd Funkadelic" and James Brown’s veteran keys man Jerry "Louie" Poindexter. 

Sharon’s first CD, a 4-song demo, has received airplay in the United States and abroad. After performing "Get Here" at New York’s famed Apollo Theater, Sharon was asked by C.P. Lacey, also known as "The Sandman", to sit in with his nine-piece band. She performed a live duet with recording artist Cherelle and sang back-up at an event for singer/actress Rain Pryor (Richard’s daughter).

Sharon performs throughout Atlanta and nationally and will soon perform internationally, having been invited to headline in Shanghai. She also has had requests to perform in at Croatia’s Jazz in Lapidarij Festival and in Taiwan and Portugal. 

The opener and title track to this second CD has a gentle samba sway and although the synth strings and piano are tasteful and very enjoyable, it’s Sharon’s voice which is the undisputed star here.  It has a huskiness with a hint of vulnerability which, for me, is a great combination.  On The Things You Do to Me, there is a less intimate sound with brass samples and a synthesized drum track.  You’ll be drawn in though, because the sneaky sax licks and very strong hook get you reaching for the repeat button. 

The Harry Nilsson-penned One is a plaintive ballad and Vic Smiley’s acoustic guitar here provides the lovely accompaniment to Sharon’s warm tones.  Subtle jazz guitar opens the very sexy Something About.  The drums and percussion on here sound very natural and this song is so well performed and recorded it’s an absolute joy to listen to.  Vic Smiley collaborated with Sharon on the original songs on this set and his deft touch enhances everything.

Smooth Jazz radio should be picking up on It’s No Wonder.  It has a lovely sway and, despite synthesized drums, it moves very nicely.  Sharon’s phrasing is perfect and you won’t miss a word of this pretty lyric.  The brooding intro to We’re Still Friends promises something deep and soulful à la Millie Jackson.  Sharon doesn’t get down-and-dirty (either lyrically or vocally) like that but it’s still a lovely song full of meaning.  On her next CD, I’d love to hear Sharon going for it more without losing the engaging warmth in her voice, and at the end of this song I can hear faint suggestions of how good that could sound…  The closer, Gotta Get Away, is more upbeat and brassy than the previous songs.  It’s very catchy with its strong hook, brass samples and snappy backing vocals.

CD Baby (where you can buy the CD) recommends Sharon’s CD for those who like Etta James, Oleta Adams and Randy Crawford.  The last two are fair comparisons – Sharon’s voice has the same relaxed, sultry quality that they both have – and it would only take a big push from a Smooth Jazz/NAC station to get Sharon’s voice better known and her name up there.




Producers – Sharon Rae North, Vic Smiley