MARY SHERHART ARTIST BIO
“Sherhart, a superb singer, with dark colors in the mezzo-soprano voice, has long experience in Balkan music, both in the United States and the Balkans. Her commitment to this cause is profound.” R.M.Campbell, Seattle PI
Mary Sherhart is a Seattle-based singer, performer, and teacher of the music of Eastern Europe. Mary is choir director and founder (2010) of the Bulgarian Voices of Seattle Women’s Choir. Its 40 members were all born in Bulgaria and range in age from 25-82. This choir is a program of the Bulgarian Cultural and Heritage Center of Seattle (BCHCS) on which Ms. Sherhart serves as an advisory board member. Mary produced the “Tazi Baba” (“This Baba”) documentary film for BCHCS, as well as “Penka Encheva and Friends,” a CD recorded at Jack Straw Cultural Center (2014). In Bulgaria Mary studied with the professional folk choir of Ensemble Varna for fifteen months (1983-84) and conducted research into traditional singing throughout the country.
Mary’s Balkan culture path started as a teenager in 1970 as a member of Seattle’s Koleda Ensemble along with artistic luminaries like modern dance choreographer Mark Morris, musical theater composer Chad Henry, local radio personality Sandy Bradley and others.
From those early years
Mary made a commitment to create meaningful experiences for others through
Balkan singing. She was founding president of Sevdah
North America (SNA), which is a non-profit organization formed to preserve and
promote sevdah, the traditional music of Bosnia and
Herzegovina, in diaspora communities (2007). As
president of SNA, Ms. Sherhart produced Seattle’s
annual Evening of Sevdah concerts (2007-2013). She
studied, toured and recorded with the late Omer Pobric,
a legendary sevdah artist. Over her years as a choir
director she has led the Vecerinka and Sedyanka Balkan Women’s Choirs, New Land Choir, and Vela
Luka Croatian Ensemble choir; and was a founding member of the Ruzice Folk Choir. Mary was soloist in the local groups
Balkan Cabaret and Aegean View, and has appeared with numerous other groups. In
her role as advisory board member to the Department of Slavic Languages and
Literature, she initiated and directed the University of Washington Slavic Fest
(2004-2006), which brought local Slavic youth groups together for culture
parades and performances on campus. She has given workshops for most Balkan
choirs in the US, and for numerous general choirs, both children and adults. A
highlight of her career, Mary directed the major musical production “Joyous
Nativity, a Croatian Cantata” (affectionately called The Big Hairy Croatian
Project), a 3-year project culminating in performances of composed and
traditional Croatian music in three separate venues: Seattle’s St. James
Cathedral, Anacortes’ St. Mary’s Church and Vancouver BC’s Holy Rosary
Ms. Sherhart was recognized with the 2012 Aspasia Phoutrides Pulakis Award from the Ethnic Heritage Council and the 2006 Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship. She is on the board of Fondacija Most, an organization that provides sandwiches for school children in the town of Bosanska Krupa in northwest Bosnia, and is an honorary member of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian American Academy of Arts & Sciences (BHAAAS).
The years and experiences have added to her personal belief in the healing power of music. The joy of singing and of finding one’s passion is woven into every performance and workshop.
An interview with KUOW’s Dave Beck can be heard here: