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JoAnne Sherwood: Songwriter in Bloom

JoAnne Sherwood learned to play the guitar at a young age but put it away for a while as she pursued her education and career.

After completion of her Master’s Degree in Music, she landed her dream job as an Elementary Band Teacher in Fulton. A few years ago, after being introduced to the Syracuse Guitar League, she rediscovered the guitar. At this same time, she met her musician friends Denise Knight and Mark Wahl.
The three later became the band, Canvas Moon. This group not only allowed JoAnne to write and arrange music but also the confidence to sing.Since then, JoAnne has performed in duos, solo, and has enjoyed several collaborations with other local songwriters.

Not too long ago, I made her acquaintance at US Open Songwriting Contest at Movie Tavern Syracuse where she was a contestant; and I was one of the judges. She won first place with her song “Gently Used Heart” in that contest. And she’s been making progress ever since. She offers provocative lyrics that live well in her own unique musical handling—which could be defined as contemporary introspective folk.

Chuck Schiele: Your path into music involves being a teacher? Please tell us how this all came together for you.
JoAnne Sherwood: I can’t remember when I didn’t want to be a teacher, and at age 10 when I started playing the clarinet, I decided that music was what I’d teach. At the same time, my parents invested in guitar lessons for me. I graduated from the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, then received my Masters at Ithaca college. My teaching career came first, performing on guitar and singing came much later.
CS: Characterize your music.JS: Contemporary folk, with colors of other styles mixed in. I have had so much exposure to all kinds of music, that’s all stored in my head. It finds its way out when I write.

CS: Please tell us a brief history of your music involvements.

JS: I started with classical training, and that was my musical concentration for many years. Joining The Guitar League of Syracuse in 2011 reignited my love of the guitar. It was also the time that Mark Wahl, Denise Knight, and I formed the band, Canvas Moon. I started my songwriting while with that group, and gained confidence in my singing there. Since then, I have played in a few duos and a variety of other musical collaborations. But most recently, I decided it was time to make a recording of all of my original music. That recording “Here” was released about a year ago.

CS: Are there any particular highlights from your music career that stand out for you?

JS: Performing with percussionist Jeff Haynes and Canvas Moon at Our Time Coffee house in Long Island.

Playing in the Sassafrass Sisters Songwriting Experiment in 2020 at Steeple Coffeehouse — featuring all women songwriters.

This past December I was featured on Channel 9 news in Tim Fox’s segment “Tell Me Something Good”. I wrote and recorded a song called “Parking Lot Christmas”. The story was all about hope and celebrating Christmas during a pandemic in a different way.

CS: What’s the best part of being a singer?

JS: I love to share what I have musically created. Either something I wrote or an arrangement of a cover song that I’ve made my own. Also, singing in harmony with someone is magic.
CS: Being an active part of the CNY Music Scene, what are your thoughts about the scene and music community?

JS: Oh…I miss it so much. The community of musicians is some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and the talent in CNY is incredible.

CS: What’s in your future for music as we propel into 2021?

JS: I want to keep writing and working on my guitar skills. But most of all, I want to be able to play out and listen to other musicians in person again.

CS: How do we stay in touch with you and your music?

JS: You can find me at Facebook.com/sherwoodjoanne/

CS: Thank you for sharing your story with us, JoAnne. Keep on writing! I look forward to hearing what you come up with next!

JS: Thank you, Chuck.
Chuck Schiele
Chuck Schiele is an award-winning musician, art director, producer, editorialist, artist, activist, member of SaltCityChill.com and fan of the CNY music scene. To be considered for this column, please write chuck.schiele@gmail.com.