Philly’s own powerhouse singer, Sharon Little, will release her new EP, “Another Galaxy,” on Jan. 22.
For the North Wales native, this release marks a triumphant return to music following an uncertain hiatus. Though she currently spends her time in Los Angeles, where she partnered with Grammy Award-winning producer Tim Sonnefeld to bring “Another Galaxy” to life, Little has found ways to stay true to her roots on the east coast. Her first single, “Star Crossed Lovers,” dropped last month.
Little found initial success in 2012 when she signed with CBS Records after performing on “The 10! Show” at NBC in Center City. She released her first album shortly after, titled “Perfect Time For a Breakdown,” and within weeks Little was chosen by Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, and T Bone Burnett to open for their Raising Sand tour. She began touring with legends such as Jonny Lang, Chris Isaac, Pat Benatar and Al Green. Her music from that era became ubiquitous on TV, her hit “Follow That Sound” became the theme for “The Cleaner” on A&E. Her music has also been featured on “NCIS,” “The Good Wife,” “Ghost Whisperer” and “NUMB3RS.”
I have endless stories from that tour, but my favorite was when Robert Plant walked into my dressing room on the last night of the tour, and said, ”Poppit (that was his nickname for me)…I wish you the best of luck going from strand to strand in your career!”
Everything was going perfectly for Little until CBS Records encountered financial trouble and dissolved, leaving her as a music industry orphan ̶ an artist without a parent label. In 2019, Little discovered Winding Way Records, a record label located in Newtown Square. She was quickly brought on board with Winding Way. Thrilled to be signed in her home state again, and working with Sonnefeld, who is also originally from Philadelphia, Little found ways of incorporating Manayunk in her music video for “Star Crossed Lovers.”
PW recently caught up with Little to talk about her new music and working back in her home state.
PW: Let’s go back to the beginning. How did you become interested in music? Who were some of the people who influenced you?
SL: My first musical experience was with my grandmother. She used to take me to the church down the street and I would sing hymns. She was the first person I ever sang for.
Growing up, I loved all the ‘90s hip-hop and R&B, like En Vogue, Young M.C., Mary J. Blige, Sade, all of that. Michael Jackson was one of my earliest influences. Eva Cassidy was also a major influence.
But the most important reason that I kept singing and writing wasn’t because of any of those influences. It was because of my best friend Jodi, who died in a car crash when she was 15. She and I used to play guitar together and pretend we were the Indigo Girls. She was so brave and courageous. I carried her confidence with me after she died.
PW: I’ve read that you were working as a waitress, playing with some local Philly bands and performing on “The 10! Show” at NBC in Center City. Then, almost overnight, or at least almost overnight for the music business, Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, and T Bone Burnett picked you to open for their “Raising Sand” tour. What was that like? It almost sounds like a movie script.
SL: Honestly, it felt totally natural. For the first time, I felt like I was actually fitting in. I had a really hard time in school. Walking into adulthood, being a musician and wanting to continue that path was really tough because there were a lot of people telling me I didn’t have a chance.
When I was chosen to be the opener for Alison Krauss, T-Bone Burnett, and Robert Plant, it finally felt like someone said, “This is yours, you got this.” They were so sweet and welcoming. Walking onto stage in a different city every night for 90 shows was invigorating to say the least!
I have endless stories from that tour, but my favorite was when Robert Plant walked into my dressing room on the last night of the tour, and said, ”Poppit (that was his nickname for me)…I wish you the best of luck going from strand to strand in your career!” It was quite the moment and was, without a doubt, one of the best times I will ever have in my lifetime.
PW: Your new EP, “Another Galaxy,” drops early next year, and the first single, “Star Crossed Lovers,” dropped last month. Talk a little about how the album and single came together. How is “Another Galaxy” different from your previous albums?
SL: I had a song that I wrote called “Pluto,” and Tim had started writing a song called “1000 Light Years Away.” They were both metaphors about space and the universe, relating to love. So we decided to just start writing a whole record on those themes. “Star Crossed Lovers” came about in that way as well. We rounded the EP off with “Wait For Me,” a song we wrote on the day of the solar eclipse (Aug. 21, 2017).
Tim produced “Another Galaxy,” while “Perfect Time For a Breakdown” was produced by Mark Howard and “Paper Doll” was produced by Don Was. Tim and I worked more like a partnership than the other records. I feel more invested in this project. I had more say. Tim is from Philly too, and came up making hip-hop and R&B records. His approach to the drums is more programmed/electronic, a little more modern.
PW: How has the pandemic affected your career? How have you spent your downtime?
SL: I’ve been more productive lately. I have more time. Before the pandemic hit, I was bartending at a small Italian restaurant in LA. Now I have as much time as I need to dedicate to my music. There hasn’t been much downtime, but if you want to get personal, [laughs] I am a huge fan of the I.D. channel, and have been binge watching murder mysteries.
PW: You have shots of Manayunk in the “Star Crossed Lovers” video, and you signed with Winding Way Records in Newtown Square last year. Is it good to be back and working in the Philadelphia area?
SL: Yes. I’m signed to Winding Way Records, and it’s the best label ever, I’m so happy to be working with them. The funny thing is, the president of the label, John Fisher, is the one who shot the footage in Manayunk. “Star Crossed Lovers” is about a love affair I had with a guy who lived in Manayunk, so I felt it was necessary to get some footage from Philly in there to stay true to the song.
I’m actually not in Philadelphia, but I miss the hoagies and Wawa like super crazy! Tim and I are based in Los Angeles. It’s funny that we moved to Los Angeles only to get signed to a label based in Philadelphia.
PW: What’s ahead for you when – or maybe if – the pandemic clears? More new music? Back on the road for appearances?
SL: As of now, Tim and I are writing our next record, making new “Favorite Friday Covers” every week, and making music videos for the upcoming songs on “Another Galaxy.” Hopefully we will be touring this record as soon as it is safe to do so. I can’t wait for all of this to be over. I need to be on the road! I’ve never felt comfortable in any of the places that I’ve lived because I’d rather be touring instead, waking up in a new city every day, meeting new people and performing. That’s home to me.
PW: What are the best ways for your fans to keep up-to-date with what you’re doing?
SL: I’m very active on all the social media platforms right now, because that’s all we’ve got! If you want to keep up with me, just check in on my Instagram (@sharonlittlemusic) and watch out for new videos for my original songs on YouTube (sharonlittlemusic). Tim and I also have a weekly cover song series “Favorite Friday Covers” where we release a new cover song every Friday on my IGTV and YouTube. You can also find me on TikTok and Facebook.