Multifaceted Entertainer Keeps Music the Prime Focus
Shari Ulrich is one busy musician.
By phone from Bowen Island, the San Rafael, CA native shared thoughts on thirty years of creative endeavours.
"In terms of writing solo as an artist, you get to explore yourself artistically without any outside influences," said the entertainer, who got her start performing alongside her older brother and sister with the San Francisco Free Theatre.
Her passion for songwriting and performing has earned her a wealth of experience.
"I love doing what I do because music has taken me into so many other areas," said Ulrich, who at one point in her career was co-hosting the 80s TV show Futurescan, with David Suzuki.
"The technology show was a pairing of the scientist and the on-air personalityit was great. We were talking about cell phones saying, someday, you may actually be able to carry your own phone with you!" she said laughing.
Ulrichs musical passion takes you into pre-summer season alongside musicians Bill Runge (on piano, soprano sax, and accordion) and Linda Kidder(on bass and vocals).
This is her first appearance at the Millennium Place venue. She performed previously at Our Lady of the Mountains Church in Whistler.
Whistlers Moving Chords Youth Show Choir will join Ulrich as part of the performance.
The song list for their portion of the show includes One Step Closer, a song about war and peace she wrote after the falling off the Berlin Wall, Every Road, and I Will Be There, a song for her six-year old daughter.
Musically, Ulrich ventured solo after playing with the Pied Pumkin String Ensemble, a Vancouver outfit with musicians Rick Scott and Joe Mock that began in 1973.
She wrote the album Long Nights in 1980, for which she received a Juno nomination in the most promising female artist category. One Step Ahead, her follow-up album, won a Juno in the same category the following year.
Talk Around Town, through MCA, was produced with colleague Claire Lawrence.
She also toured with Valdys The Hometown Band as backup vocalist. Their albums Flying and The Hometown Band garnered them a Juno win for best new group.
"With writing in groups, personality and psyches get into the mix, and its about give and take [when putting a song together]," said Ulrich.
"That can work, but the bandmembers have to have not a lot of baggage of their own in terms of working together."
That magic mix led to a revival of Pied Pumkin, who play the annual Folk Festival in Kerrville, Texas next month.
In between albums Every Road, and the compilation of hits, The Best of Shari Ulrich, she wrote music for CBC, Life, and Knowledge networks, and lived in both Toronto and L.A.
On the live front, Ulrich performed in the 1996-97 production of Tapestry, a tribute to Carol King, at the Vancouver Arts Club Theatre.
But music remains her prime area of creativity.
After years of successful album writing, there are a few favourites.
"Usually the best album for a musician is the most recent one, because if youre no always striving to write the best album youve ever written, then you should be [giving up on music]," said Ulrich, who compares composing strong songs to the process of flow.
"A lot of writers will say they didnt have much to do with the process [of creating something], it just came through them.
For Ulrich the song she considers a gem is Every Road.
Music-making will continue steadily through the summer season, as Ulrich continues to play with Bill Henderson and Roy Forbes with the band UHF. This gig began as a one night only performance. Twelve years and two albums later, they are still ticking,
"UHF is a unique scenario because we are all strong solo artists and an unlikely combination, but particularly on vocals the mix works," said Ulrich.
Next stop post-Millennium Place is the 60s review, Baby Boomer Blues Show, which runs in July 2002 at the Waterfront Theatre.
Ulrich is currently working on songs with Canadian filmmaker Anne Wheeler (of the retro 40s musical drama, Bye Bye Blues), and was involved with Wheelers The Orkney Lad.
And for Ulrich the best part about working in the entertainment business is: "Writing songs that affect people.
"When someone comes up to you on the street and says, I love the work that you did in that song."