“She’s my English teacher AND has talent,” Eric Eastland commented about Sherree Chamberlain’s song “You Don’t Love Me” posted at YouTube.
Chamberlain is an Oklahoma City based singer/songwriter and guitarist who also teaches English and AP Art History at Santa Fe High School in Edmond. Besides her music fans the attractive 20-something has also obviously charmed students as well as the public school administration.
“I have taught a year then quit just to do music,” she said. “But then they call me back to teach again and I quit again but they always call me back when there’s an opening.”
It's doubtful Chamberlain will be parsing the regional dialect in great American novel Huckleberry Finn Friday evening at Opolis but she will be performing her original songs with a full band. A presence on the central Oklahoma music scene since her undergraduate days at Oklahoma State University, she’s played numerous club dates as well as Norman Music Festival and South by Southwest. Last summer she had a sweet gig in Chicago with Graham Colton.
“I started writing music when I was 14,” she said. “At OSU I began playing around and made a lot of friends who are musically awesome.”
One of her key mentors was and still is multi-instrumentalist Jon Mooney of Stillwaters’s Other Lives who notably were openers for Radiohead during the first leg of last year’s North American tour. Friendships and simpatico partnerships enabled the talented soprano to record her first album here in Norman while she was still in college.
“I met Chad Copelin from Blackwatch Studios and along with Jon Mooney they coordinated a way to make it happen,” she said. “My second record ‘New Skin’ is coming out soon. It takes me a really long time to put out new material.”
Between her day career and being a newlywed, Chamberlain has been busy. New Skin is ten new songs with a decidedly country influence laced throughout her strong folk-pop underpinnings. Track number three titled “I Want It All” may sum up her life presently.
“My older songs were a lot more personal and reflective,” she said. “At the end of the day it’s so much easier to write a sad song than a happy song. For this album though I’m in a really good place because I got engaged and married while working on it.”
To avoid taking herself too seriously Chamberlain wrote the songs right before going into the recording studio.
“It was fun doing it that way,” she said. “I’d been listening to some old Conway Twitty and Dolly Parton songs and ended up writing a bunch of different stories.”
Chamberlain has discovered a certain poetic license by adopting a male perspective when composing.
“For some reason it seems safer to me if it’s about being down and out that people won’t read into it that it’s about my own marriage,” she explained. “I’ve taken a step back and wrote little vignettes about certain scenarios.”
Chamberlain comes from a musical family and one of her earliest memories is singing in the bathtub with a sister. Her dad is a metro attorney and musician who has been known to play bass on stage when his daughter is in a pinch for an extra pair of hands. Different from what many musicians claim, Chamberlain’s inspiration to create and perform is not an all-consuming drive.
“Working on songs, singing them over and over can be therapeutic,” she said. “It causes you to slow down and feel the process. It’s how I’ve learned to express myself and at this point almost a reflex.”
Chamberlain is looking forward to her show at Opolis on Friday.
“I think it’s going to be really fun,” she said. “A band called Tallows is going to open for us. They’re energetic and loud without being too in-your-face. It’s close to Christmas and we want to play a good show with loud happy songs and hopefully everyone will leave with a good vibe.”
She suggested a few Yuletide carols may be thrown in the mix.
“We’ll be playing some songs off the new album,” she promised. “It’s not a CD release party but more like a preview show.”
If You Go
What: Sherree Chamberlain Band with openers Tallows.
When: 9 p.m. Dec. 13
Where: Opolis, 113 N. Crawford Ave.
Cost $8 (21 or older to enter)
Sherree Chamberlain performing at the 2011 Norman Music Festival.