San Diego vocalist Sharon DuBois studied voice at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. “They taught classical. I’m a jazz singer.” Arriving in San Diego in 1990, she earned a Bachelor's degree in cultural anthropology with a minor in American Indian studies.
Ms. DuBois is a ubiquitous presence on the San Diego jazz scene. If you’ve been to a local jazz performance, or follow any SD jazz musicians on FB, you’ve seen her. She claims influences from Joan Armatrading to Betty Carter. Joni Mitchell and Bruce Cockburn inspire her lyrically, while Bill Evans and Charles Mingus are her favorite composers.
She has been involved with performing or recording with locals like tenor saxophonist Daniel Jackson, alto legend Charles McPherson, and trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos. Her highlight musical memory, though, stems from a gig she did with the MCC Big Band at the world-famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York.
In late summer 2011, she released her second album, Here I Am, an all-originals program that showcases the singer's smoky alto in a mostly funk-jazz setting. Drummer John Staten produced the disc, and the core group includes Glen McKinney on guitar, Stephen McKinney on bass, and local phenomenon Joshua White on piano. Guest appearances by Castellanos and Jackson greatly enhance the tracks on which they appear.
As of 2012, DuBois works by day in the holistic health field, doing body work and massage, which she says is another story entirely but that in various ways is also relevant to her work as an artist. “Music,” she says, “is a vibration. Everything is a vibration.”
Her album Into Light was completed in 2018, after almost three years of work and a personal investment of approximately $14,000. “When you pay for it yourself, you can be more creative. If I had to stick with a budget, I wouldn’t have been able to use Christian McBride when he became available. Nobody’s telling me what box I need to fit into. I also had the luxury of time on this project — without people pushing me or exerting outside pressure. On my previous albums, I stressed out a lot because of that.”
“This is an album about loss,” DuBois told the Reader. “I had been working on a lot of these tunes with Nicki Carano, who passed away suddenly on January 31 in 2016. Two years earlier, my teacher and mentor Daniel Jackson died. The album is dedicated to them. There is a lot of sadness in the music, but also joy, because when people die they also become the light.”