Sharon Kovacs has been singing from the time she could barely talk, but didn’t seriously discover music until she reached her turbulent teenage years. Playing in (school) bands and entering talent shows, she failed to get ahead due to not finding the right people to help her. That all changed when after finishing high school, she started singing on open mic nights at the place where she waitressed. Liking what they heard, visitors advised her to audition for Rock City Institute, a music college in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. She sang her two songs so convincingly she was immediately accepted.
Her incredibly dark, raw voice impressed, but also made her musical education a challenging one. “Some singing teachers didn’t know what to do about me”, she laughs, remembering. “One time they even advised me to stop and go do something else. According to them, I use my voice in the wrong way. But this is me; I can’t sing any other way.”
She kept working at her talent, experience and songwriting. A crucial step in her musical career arrived when she met producer Oscar Holleman (Within Temptation, After Forever, Gorefest) through Facebook and sent him a link with her work. “Normally, I don’t even listen to links like that”, the music veteran states. “But I was just sitting around, being bored. As soon as I heard the first few words, I was blown away. It sounded too good, so I called Sharon and asked who was singing. ‘That’s me’, she said. When I met her, she turned out to look completely different from what I expected. Though her voice sounds black, here stood a white girl with a shaved head. I was intrigued, so we started working together.” Besides the studio sessions with Oscar in The Netherlands, Sharon also travelled to several other countries to write with a range of different songwriters.
The result: Kovacs’s eponymous debut EP, containing four songs on which she makes a lasting impression. On tracks like first single My Love, When The Lady’s Hurt and He Talks That Shit, Sharon’s attitude is apparent. “It has to be edgy to fit me; I don’t take any prisoners and say things that may not be appropriate, but are always honest. That’s me. I make music because I have to. Because it’s the only way I can express my emotions. It makes my music pure and real.” The fourth song on her EP is the one that started everything: I’ve Seen That Face Before, made famous by Grace Jones, is the song Sharon first sent to Oscar and which they later eventually recorded in Cuba with local musicians at the Egrem Studios in Havana. Together they are now putting the finishing touches to her debut album.
Due to her style and dark voice, comparisons to Portishead and Shirley Bassey are quickly made. “That gloomy sound is caused by my voice and the arrangements, but also by the fact that we write everything in minor. I like moodiness; my music has got soul.” Her own influences mostly stem from days long past. “I listen to Billie Holiday, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Dinah Washington… Tina Turner and Janis Joplin are favourites as well. Female singers with personalities, that really lived. All feelings were audible in their voices, which has always attracted me.”
After finishing her studies Sharon directed her full attention to her music, which quickly paid off. She did a successful aftershow for One Republic in Amsterdam and is set to perform at large Dutch festivals such as Bospop and North Sea Jazz this Summer.
Her big adventure is just around the corner, and the self-willed singer can’t wait. “I want to be able to always play music”, she says, defining her ambition. “My personality is complex, but as long as my surroundings are dynamic as they are now, I’m steady. I need a goal, and this is it. I want to go around the world.” It’s looking like she will reach her goal – and rightly so.
The EP “My Love” was released in The Netherlands on May 9th and reached top 10 in the iTunes charts straight after the release.
Kovacs, chosen as Radio 6 Soul & Jazz Talent and 3FM’s Serious Talent, performed live on tv at “De Wereld Draait Door“ and played live at Radio 3FM “GIEL” morning show and various other shows. The single "My Love" was chosen Megahit by Radio 3FM.
North Sea Jazz, Bospop and two aftershows for Pearl Jam were some of the gigs Kovacs performed at. More festivals such as Lowlands (Netherlands), Into The Great Wide Open (Netherlands), Reeperbahn (Germany) and Beat Motel Week (Germany) are planned for this year.
Die 24-jährige Sharon KOVACS hat schon gesungen, als sie kaum sprechen konnte, aber ernsthaft entdeckte sie die Magie der Musik erst in ihren turbulenten Teenager-Jahren. Nach ihrem Studium an der Musikschule Rock City Institute in Eindhoven gelangte sie an einen entscheidenden Punkt ihres musikalischen Werdegangs, als sie über Facebook Kontakt mit dem holländischen Produzenten Oscar Holleman aufnahm. Dieser war hingerissen von KOVACS dunkler, soulvoller Stimme und begann direkt mit ihr zusammenzuarbeiten. Das Ergebnis: KOVACS‘ Debüt-EP „My Love“, mit der sie binnen kürzester Zeit vom Geheimtipp zu einer der aufregendsten Newcomer-Künstlerinnen 2014 avancierte.
Ihr rauer Stil und ihre dunkle Stimme führen zu Vergleichen mit Portishead oder Amy Winehouse. „Dieser düstere Sound entsteht durch meine Stimme und die Arrangements, aber auch durch die Tatsache, dass wir alles in Moll komponieren. Ich mag diese Stimmungsschwankungen, meine Musik hat Seele.“, so KOVACS. Das verwundert nicht, stammen ihre Einflüsse doch hauptsächlich aus vergangenen Zeiten. „Ich höre viel Billie Holiday, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Dinah Washington… auch Tina Turner und Janis Joplin sind Favoriten von mir. Weibliche Sängerinnen mit Persönlichkeit, die wirklich lebten. Alle ihre Gefühle sind in ihren Stimmen zu hören, das hat mich immer sehr angezogen.“