Last month I was invited to one of the most fantastic venues in Cleveland — The House of Blues — to hear a talented lady pursuing her musical career in a band named Wish You Were Here.
The house was packed and the crowd set their imagination to the music of Pink Floyd as played by Wish You Were Here.
Wish You Were Here’s impeccable reputation is built around the fact that Pink Floyd fans can hear their favorite songs played note for note, cadence for cadence. It is in this band that Sharron MacPherson Foxx, who grew up in the Hough area, now cuts her teeth in rock and heavy metal. Classic Pink Floyd riffs, like those from “The Wall,” are psychedelic in nature and nearly impossible to ignore. They raised the consciousness of many world-wide listeners as to what is just in a humane society.
I asked Sharron what it is like to be a rock star and the first thing she said was “Cool.”
So, of course, I had to interview her to find out how she had started on the road to rock.
Ingram: Did you like rock music as a child? What about Pink Floyd in particular – an anti-establishment, anti-authority, stir-it-up band? What did your parents think about it?
McPherson-Foxx: My parents always loved music. The music they played in the house sometimes included Beethoven, The Who, Frank Sinatra, or The Isley Bros. My brother Gregory Smith played guitar, bass and keyboards. He was self-taught and our mother could really harmonize well. So we all concentrated on vocals. My brother currently plays lead guitar with Sonny Rhodes and he exposed us to hard rock licks from bands like Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin.
As far as the politics of rock is concerned, my parents were very much into The Civil Rights Movement. They actively addressed their beliefs here in Cleveland. I think that has always led me to question and challenge authority. We lived on 71st and Hough at the tail-end of the Hough riots. My father was asked to portray an activist character in the movie “Uptight” by Jules Dassin because he fit that part so well off-screen. The military fatigues-Afro-sunglasses: the Look and the Power. But he declined. I do a promo picture dressed like my father always appeared.
Ingram: When you sang before you joined the band, what was your genre?
McPherson-Foxx: I sang mostly R&B and Pop. I was in a band called Afterthought and NuSoul. We played local bars, private parties and weddings. We were successful. While singing on the West Side of Cleveland, Blues musician Colin Dussault asked our group to back him up. Eric E Rock was seeking a replacement of one of the back –up singers. In Wish You Were Here, we have one alto and one soprano.
Ingram: What are some of your influencers in music as well as those of your band members?
McPherson-Foxx: Everybody is really musically diverse in the band. Rock, Pop, R&B and Blues. Marla jokes that I know more about Rock than she does. In the dressing room, she may just start to belt out some Whitney Houston. She does that while I am singing Joni Mitchell or The Rolling Stones. The breadth and depth of everyone’s musical knowledge is staggering. I am always impressed by how the band’s knowledge encompasses all genres.
This is not The New Pink Floyd. The audience is really a great cross section of generations. Someone in their twenties is standing next to someone in their fifties in our House Of Blues audience. Good music transcends generations; we have regulars who come out to support us and a website for our fans to make suggestions. People come from all over too. Cincinnati, Columbus, and Pittsburg.
Ingram: Sharron, what is your favorite Pink Floyd song?
McPherson-Foxx: Us and Them. I love all those minor chords.
Ingram: So tell us, what is it like to be a Rock Star?
McPherson-Foxx: Well, I was at work and couldn’t get off my 9-5 for sound-check. My band leader was incredulous! “Are you kidding? Don’t they know who you ARE?!”
Seriously, I am happy that people appreciate our music. The fact that they sit in a dark room for three hours listening to us; all in some state of Being in the Moment…and the venues sure make us comfortable everywhere we go. They take care of us! Oh, and we love doing benefit concerts. A good cause makes our music even better!
~ Written by Lori Ingram, an actress living in University Circle