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Sheri Hixon photo 1The state of Minnesota despite its frosty demeanor during the winter months, has over the decades endeared itself to the rest of America, if not the world, by giving us artists such as Judy Garland (Grand Rapids), Bob Dylan (Duluth), Prince (Minneapolis) and The Andrews Sisters (Minneapolis) and The North Star State and more specifically the city of Minneapolis, has now given us another good singer – songwriter, by the name of Sheri Hixon. 

The number two song on Sheri Hixon’s album Life Stories, catches your ear, not because of the arrangement nor really because of her accompanying musicians, pianist Jeff Victor or trumpeter Stephen Kung, it is the voice that causes you to bend your ear a little closer to the mellow vibe. An alto with vocals that remind you of those creamy milk chocolate commercials you see on television, because they just flow so easily, as she poses the question “What Are We Gonna Do?”   

Ms. Hixon is fond of quoting Brenda Russell, whom she considers a mentor, “The music is already in the universe, we are just vessels that it is channeled through.”

“When I began to truly listen to this gift, I began to reach out. I began to try and connect to people who I respected and to whom I listened. I would email people and she (Brenda Russell) responded. She did some mentoring, whether she realizes it or not and therefore I refer to her, because I honor that connection that she allowed to occur. It provided me with the ability to reflect upon where it (Sheri Hixon’s musical ability) was coming from.  I will sit down and I will hear the music and the lyrics together. If something pours out in ten minutes, an entire song, and if I am hearing most of the parts then I know it is a good song. If I have to work at it for long periods of time, it generally just stays on paper and I might remember the melody and I might not,” she says.

“What Are We Gonna Do?” is however, one of the rare songs that Sheri Hixon composed, which runs contrary to her usual creative process. “I wanted to call that one up. As a social worker I wanted to have something that would speak to people more from a social welfare (perspective) and that is kind of like “What’s Goin’ On,” with Marvin Gaye. I wanted something that spoke socially. I probably (worked on) that one for about six months and then one day it came tumbling out. Normally, I do not say, hmm I want to write a love song today or I want to write a song about relationships. It doesn’t work like that. I might be walking outside and I will hear something from a forklift or something and I will say wow that sounds like a bass. The interesting thing about “What Are We Gonna Do?” is the bassline came first. I normally have the vocals first, but I had to lay the bassline, before I could even work on vocals,” explains Ms. Hixon. 

Sheri Hixon’s induction into music was cultivated early in life, by a mother whom she says was inspired by The Jackson Five.  “I have been immersed in music all of my life and I guess people just arrive at different things at different points in their lives and this is my time to arrive with the music where it is. I have been singing my entire life. I guess I consider my (voice) and the flute to be my instruments. I started singing when I was five and my mother was inspired by the Jackson Five and we went to nursing homes. Initially, I sang and there was a requirement in the family that we all have some sort of instrumentation, so I tried piano (she laughs) and the instructor was just brutal. Flute was my second choice and I was in a marching band and concert band. I was a band geek while growing up. The big thing in the neighborhood was a church called Park Avenue (in Minneapolis) and Prince went to that church. They brought in Take 5, the Winans, Andrae Crouch and Tramaine Hawkins. We actually had an opportunity to speak with them. Here we were as kids watching these people warm up then perform and they would come in and they would speak to us. Music has always been a part of my life. My voice has been a friend. It has always been there and I am constantly singing. I have always had a radio in my head and I have always kind of doodled with music, but I never really took it seriously until about five years ago when I started working on this project.  Read more