John Paul Sharp
I was born in the summer of 1979 in Wichita, Kansas. I was a highly expressive, enthusiastic, and artistic child. I acted in summer theater and sang everywhere I went.
I used to ride my roller skates all around my neighborhood, listening to MoTown on my tape player, singing my heart out, hoping someone from school might see how cool I thought I was. I once dressed up as one of my idols, Cyndi Lauper, and went to school that way in third grade, standing at the entrance of the school, hoping everyone could see just how cool I thought I was. I was never the most popular kid, but I was definitely infamous.
I took a lot of emotions out on our family upright piano, through my hands, like hammers. My first drag experience was in 1st grade, when I performed as “Big Momma'” for a talent show. The teacher had to get my mother’s permission. My mom got a VCR camera recorder from the high school where she taught and I used to create a bunch of videos at home, using my friends, using my gerbils, using rocks; anything, really. I like to think that I had a pretty decent childhood. I loved “You Can’t Do That on Television” and I thought Tiffany and Debbie Gibson were, like, everything. I also loved Classical music and the Mamas and Papas. And Ralph Tresvant. I’ve been eclectic my whole life.
I’d like to say life got easier as I got older, but that’s untrue.
I was raised by a single mother and I struggled with my identity as a generally queer person. I spent a lot of time in the gay community as a teenager and worked for social justice through writing and speaking at events. I was the entertainment writer for my college newspaper and got the opportunity to speak with lots of up and coming musicians. I almost went for an undergraduate degree in music, but then, through volunteering online, I ended up moving to the west coast to work for the first LGBT media corporation, PlanetOut, as their online community manager. I traveled all over the country, attended high-level business meetings, and faked my way through years of the dot-com bubble craziness. I had priceless experiences in San Francisco. I was completely unprepared for everything that happened, but I’m proud of how I survived it all. When the rat-race got to be too much for me to handle, I moved back to Kansas and got therapy to sort life out.
I decided in 2003 to dedicate my life to music. Why? It was the one consistent thing I could always count on in my life. Music has always helped me to process my environment. I didn’t know who I was without music. So I moved to Denver and started writing and recording music. After a few years, I found myself hitting a wall creatively.
I didn’t have a whole lot of confidence in my singing. I decided to get an undergraduate degree in Contemporary Vocal Performance at the University of Colorado Denver. In the four years I attended school, I wrote and produced numerous albums, wrote and produced a musical, scored music for films, and produced a ton of events to raise money for nonprofits. I lost my sister the summer before my junior year, on the day before my birthday. It was a tragic event that changed me forever and she is one of the reasons I have tried to do so many things in my life. Sometimes I feel like I’m living for two and that has it’s good and bad. My undergraduate education was truly an amazing time in my life and I am so grateful for all the things I got to do. I only wish I had spent more time working with more people. It’s been a lot of fun watching people I met grow into amazing artists in some form or another. Some folks are currently touring, some are writing novels, and some are on TV.
When the great recession hit, my then-partner and I struggled to make ends meet in Colorado and so we had to try something new. We moved to Seattle in 2011. Here, I sidetracked myself into theater as a way to get to know people and figure out what to do next. I acted in a ton of shows, most of them brand new works for stage. I wrote a huge three-act musical about my father and family relationships, called Total Family Massage. After that, I took over creative management of a nonprofit theater organization for three years before returning to a life more dedicated to my music.
In 2017, I decided I was going to make the next year great. So I called it Two-thousand-great-teen and I stopped doing theatre and started getting serious about making music again. I became a member of the artist collective in my neighborhood, Gallery1412, and started doing free monthly music concerts. Throughout the year, I was reviving many old songs I’d written but also writing many new songs. By the end of the year, I had enough material for a double-disc album. So, what did I do? I recorded a double-disc album and released it to the world at the beginning of 2019.
So, I made last year great. Now, I’m making this year kind. That’s right. Two-thousand-kind-teen. When the world is still chaotic and crazy, and you’ve been doing so much work to make your life great, the best strategy moving forward is to engage in a life of kindness. Kindness is helping me learn how to cope with the world in a stronger way and to connect more deeply with those around me.
I’ll be posting more content about other aspects of my life, as well as continuing forward in my journey with music. I can’t wait to share more with you as we go along.