MUSKOKA – When Sherisse Stevens was busy plucking chickens, milking cows or shovelling muck on her family farm in northern Manitoba, she wasn’t daydreaming about becoming a professional singer. It just happened.
LOVE FOR THE ARTS.
Music and theatre play a big part in Sherisse Stevens life. But she’s just as a happy hanging out at home with her “critters,” like her pooch Diva, as she is on the stage.
“I had always done music. It’s what I do,” said Stevens, who began taking piano lessons at the age of three. “Everybody has something they’re naturally born to and that was mine. When I was a kid, because I always did music, it wasn’t even something I thought about as a career choice, it was just what I did. But if somebody had asked me what I wanted to be, I probably would have said a vet because I love animals.”
Through Stevens’ piano playing it was discovered she had perfect pitch and eventually she began taking singing lessons, which led to her involvement with theatre. From there her musical inclination continued.
“One opportunity would lead to another,” she said. “Being an entertainer wasn’t my goal, it was just to play music and sing, and it’s still what drives me for sure.”
When Stevens was a teenager she started working in television, which led her to Toronto for a contract with a national label.
While there her agent had her audition for a national television show called Circus, where she beat out 400 other contenders to become the host of the program.
Taking the hosting gig meant Stevens had to give up an opportunity to go to Nashville, which in some ways she regrets, though not entirely.
“Then I wouldn’t have ended up in Muskoka,” she said. “I probably would have become more of a writer than a performer but who knows.”
One of her most memorable moments was participating and placing third in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1986. She represented Luxembourg, a country in western Europe, and did a number of concert tours in Spain, France and Germany.
“I flew into Paris a couple of times and had to do live radio interviews, in French, and I somehow pulled it off,” she laughed. “That was a lot of fun.”
Stevens first came to Muskoka in the 80s as a singer working at various resorts. From 1990-91 she worked at Deerhurst and decided to move here permanently.
“I loved the nature; the whole aspect of Muskoka - the countryside is so beautiful - and the people in Huntsville were very welcoming to me,” she said.
Stevens said her early years in television were interesting but she wanted to move on and do other things, one of those being theatre. While living in Muskoka she has helped create two production companies, SNS Productions and Tangerine Productions, with other likeminded theatre lovers.
“I enjoy acting,” she said. “I didn’t do as much when I was younger because everything was so musically based. But now that I’ve been here for 21 years, I’ve been involved in every Rotary (Club) production they’ve done right from the get go.”
Her most recent performance was playing Miss Clairee in Tangerine Productions’ rendition of Steel Magnolias.
“Dramatic acting is something I really enjoy,” she said.
When Stevens isn’t on stage or in rehearsals, she’s busy teaching piano and voice lessons and coaching a group of young girls, The Larks, with their singing.
As someone who comes to life on stage and has an engaging personality, Stevens is a rather private person.
“I’m in the public eye in doing shows and such but in my own life I’m very private. I’m a bit of a hermit actually,” she said. “People wouldn’t think that but I’m pretty happy in my own space with my critters.”
Thank you to Suzanne Baxter for recommending Stevens. If there is someone in the community you would like to recommend for Muskoka Mosaic contact Mandi Hargrave at 705-789-5541 ext. 285 or email@example.com.