Sharon Leger Interview
Evangeline formed in 1988. This New Orleans based band is now the first act
on Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Records, a new label marketed through MCA
Sharon Leger plays bass and washboard for Evangeline, and we spoke with her
about the group.
Q. You and two other members of the group, Rhonda and Kathleen, are original
members. What happens when you bring in 2 other people into the group? Do they
share the same goals as you?
A. We just really went out on the hunt to find people who had the same motivation
and goals and wanted to achieve what we wanted to achieve. When Rhonda, Kathleen
and myself started out, it was kind of just a coincidence that we found
each other. But for Nancy and Beth, we actually hunted for them. We went through
people. We went through different piano players to find the right one. It was
a search to find those people who had the same goals in common. And, we had
quite a "buzz" about the band, at that time when they came in the
band. We already had propositions from record companies and interest from
record companies. So, with that kind of buzz it's not really that hard to find
people who want to jump on the bandwagon, per se.
Q. For this group, entering talent contests was the key to your success.
Q. Who else went on to greater fame from entering these same contests as
A. Ronnie Dunn, from Brooks and Dunn. Ronnie was the winner of the Marlboro
Talent Roundup contest that we were in. So he did eventually get a record deal.
Q. And how about the other contest you entered, the True Value Country Music
Showdown. Anybody ever come out of that, and go on to bigger and better things?
A. The Sweethearts of the Rodeo. They won that contest years ago, and they
also have a record deal. So, it's just a way to get yourself known. It gets
people looking at you. Most of these contests do have the right people in the
industry to judge. So it gets a nice buzz going for the group or whatever
Q. Since you're the first signing on Margaritaville Records, are you feeling
any unusual pressure?
A. I don't feel the pressure, because of the fact that Jimmy feels it was
an opportunity to have a record company to offer new artists that are
coming into the business something that he never got, and that is, a break.
A place to do their own music. And that's what he's given us. So it's not like,
hey I'm going out there and I wanna make a million bucks, and you're the band
that has to do it for me! He never put that kind of pressure on us. It was
just an opportunity for him to give something that he's gotten from the industry,
his experience, his knowledge, and to pass it on to new acts that are coming
into the business. And so for us, we feel we've been really blessed because
we have his experience, and his knowledge. He's so giving of that.
Q. A recent report has it, that Jimmy Buffet's popularity just keeps
growing. Why do you suppose that is?
A. He just keeps coming out there. He's been doing this for over 20 years.
Every year he comes back to these same towns, whether he has a hit on the radio
or not. He's always out there in the public eye. He's out there performing
for the people. A lot of artists will have a hit or two, they'll stay on the
road, a year or two or maybe three, and then get off. They're out of sight
for maybe four or five years. Then they try to come back. For Jimmy, he's just
out there every year, year after year, always giving the people something
for their money. His shows are exciting. You always go to the show thinking
what am I gonna see this year, that's gonna blow me away, that's gonna make
it really fun and make it worth the money I spent. He always fulfills that
for his audience. I think because of that, that's why his audience grows.
Q. Sharon, how did you learn to play the washboard?
A. (Laughs) That was just something I picked up on Bourbon Street. I was
playing with the Cajun Band and got bored, would pick it up for a song or two
and just started playing on it. It's not something that I sat back and
said, 'Hmmm.. let me learn the washboard.' It was just a fluke.
Q. Just how small was the small town you grew up in, in Louisiana?
A. Population about 5,000. My graduating class was 100 students.
Q. Do you remember the first 'live' group you ever saw perform in concert?
A. Actually it would have had to have been a local band; because the town
was so small that they didn't have any major acts come in. You'd have to go
to Alexandria, a medium size city, in the state of Louisiana. That was
still, like 40 miles away. We didn't really do that much in my family. We depended
on ourselves for entertainment. My father played guitar, my uncles and cousins.
We always had a family kind of band, and for entertainment, we occupied
ourselves that way. So, we never went out to see music. But, we had local street
dances, like for the Fourth of July. They always had local bands come out and
play. I think that's about the earliest I can recall.
Q. How did that affect you? Did you set out to become
A. For me, this is really, in the true meaning, a dream happening to me,
because I never set out to be a musician! I moved to New Orleans to go to college.
I played bass just a little bit, and a friend of mine had a Cajun band, and
his band broke up, and he needed a bass player, right away to sit in for 2
weeks until he could find a replacement. I did that, and we just clicked so
well that he just asked me to stay on, and never found another bass player.
For a college student, that was good money, you know. So all of a sudden
it was like, 'hey, I can play music, and put myself through school. And, that's
what it was all about for me, until I met the girls.
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