FAIR OAKS, Calif. - Kevin Sharp, a country music singer who recorded multiple chart-topping songs and survived a well-publicized battle with cancer, has died. He was 43.
His sister Mary Huston said Sharp died at his mother's Fair Oaks home at 10:49 p.m. Saturday of complications from past stomach surgeries and digestive issues.
"He had a strong heart, that's what kept him alive, (but) I'm so happy for him, that there's no more suffering," Huston said through tears and exhaustion. She had cared for her brother since his return home to Northern California last Friday after 10 weeks in the hospital.
The singer, author, and motivational speaker made his big debut in Country music in 1997 with the No. 1 hit, “Nobody Knows,” a cover of a song originally made popular by R&B artist Tony Rich. The single topped the Billboard country charts for four weeks. Sharp’s debut album Measure of a Man was released the same year, producing additional Top 5 singles “If You Love Somebody” and “She’s Sure Taking It Well.”
Being a cancer survivor, he was an active supporter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He authored an inspirational book, Tragedy’s Gift, about his experience and toured the U.S. as a motivational speaker.
Born December 10, 1970, Sharp grew up in Weiser, Idaho in a musical family of seven children and many foster children. They moved to Sacramento, California as Sharp was entering his second year of high school. A gifted athlete who excelled in several sports, he began experiencing fatigue and unexplained pain that was later diagnosed as a rare form of bone cancer (Ewings Sarcoma) that had spread to his lungs. During his senior year of high school, Sharp was told that his chance of survival was slim.
Uncertain if he would live six months, he was introduced to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. They honored his wish of meeting producer/performer David Foster. That friendship sustained Sharp through two grueling years of chemotherapy, experimental drugs, and radiation treatments. It also opened the door for Sharp to pursue his dream of becoming a Country artist, and he eventually landed a deal with Asylum Records in Nashville.
To the surprise of many, he went into remission in 1991 and the disease did not return. However, he experienced lifelong health issues as a result of the aggressive treatment.
Sharp’s musical career garnered many accolades including New Male Vocalist from the Academy of Country Music, New Male Touring Artist of the Year from the Country Music Association/SRO, Favorite New Country Artist from the American Music Awards, Billboard Magazine’s Best New Country Video and TNN/Music City News Male Star of Tomorrow.
His last single was 2011’s “Let Me Rock You To Sleep.”
Donations can be made in his memory to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Memories of Sharp can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, and cards for the family can be sent to:
c/o Cupit Music Group
7309 Tidwell Road
Nashville, TN 37209
A memorial service celebrating Sharp’s life is being planned for Nashville. More information will be released in the near future.
He is survived by his mother, and siblings Lisa, Mary, Ron, Gregg, Richard, Larry and Genni.