Artist profile: ‘Anything Goes’ with Sherrie Kahn

Sherrie Kahn is one of the singers in Bellingham Music Club’s production of “A Swell Party with Cole Porter.”
Sherrie Kahn is one of the singers in Bellingham Music Club’s production of “A Swell Party with Cole Porter.” Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Sherrie Kahn is one of six musicians performing in the Bellingham Music Club’s production of “A Swell Party with Cole Porter” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at Firehouse Performing Arts Center and at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21 at Jansen Art Center in Lynden.

Kahn moved to Bellingham in 2006 from New York City with her husband, Mitch, and their 10-year-old daughter. She says they wanted to move to a place that combined natural beauty and community commitment to the arts, especially music. Here’s more about her, and how she became involved in the production.

Question: Have you always enjoyed music?

Answer: I grew up listening to Skeeter Davis and other Grand Ole Opry stars on 45 rpm records. There wasn’t much music education in our small town, but in middle school I had a wonderful choir teacher who encouraged me to sing a solo at the local National Association of Teachers of Singing competition. I’ve been involved in music ever since.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories?

A: One of my favorite experiences singing is the first time I sang “Come Unto Him” from “Messiah” at The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. The cavernous space was candle-lit and full of shadows, and the moment Handel’s beautiful melody soared forth was very profound.

At the other end of the spectrum, I was once cast as the understudy for the role of Sarah Brown in a production of “Guys and Dolls” and, because I had to be at every performance, the director added me to the chorus where I sang and danced from behind a giant satin-covered purple eggplant! When our Sarah became ill, I enjoyed a wonderful success. The director did not want to put me back behind the eggplant, but contracts are contracts, and behind the eggplant I returned.

Q: Do you perform with other groups in Whatcom County?

A: For the last several years I have been fortunate to sing with the wonderful conductor Deb Brown and Whatcom Chorale, both as a chorister and a soloist. From the musicality and collegiality of the group to the beautiful artistry of the accompanying Chorale Sinfonia, these have been my favorite performance experiences. I loved being a soloist for Messiah and several Bach oratorios, but I have a special fondness for our performance of “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” It was such a great example of a large group coming together to create a beautiful ensemble performance for all involved.

In addition to Whatcom Chorale and Bellingham Music Club, I’m involved with Skagit Opera and the Bellingham Festival of Music. I served on the board of North Sound Youth Orchestra for five years, one year as president. I am looking forward to upcoming performances including Mozart’s “Coronation Mass” with Skagit Symphony on Oct. 24 and a benefit for Skagit Opera on the opening night of “Hansel and Gretel” on Nov. 6.

Q: What do you like about performing?

A: I love the opportunity to simply present the beauty and emotion in the music. I like to “listen” to the audience. There is nothing like live performance and responding in real time to the give and take between the audience and myself. I’ve done loads of “serious” work, but I also love to do comedy. It’s great fun and a privilege to make people laugh.

Q: How did you become involved in the Cole Porter show?

A: Scott Henderson and Martin Bray, who wrote the show, heard me sing at various concerts and asked me if I would be interested. The show is part of Bellingham Music Club’s “Night Beat” Series. For the past few years I have been the coordinator for one of Bellingham Music Club’s high school award competitions. Being part of a show that will help benefit that is a perfect fit for me.

Q: Why should people come to the show?

A: Scott and Martin have created a wonderfully witty show featuring Porter favorites as well as a number of rarer songs that may be new to some audience members. Martin is also starring in the show along with Martha Benedict, Ben Buchanan and Megann Schmidt.

The scene is a party in a New York penthouse belonging to the real-life socialite and Porter friend, Elsa Maxwell. Cole Porter’s music, with its brilliant lyrics, can be funny, touching, risqué and romantic. It can make you want to leap to your feet and dance, cry into your handkerchief or emit belly-fueled laughter. It is appropriate for all ages and its appeal is absolutely irresistible.

In this show, I am a singing character actress. I play a number of different kinds of women, a haughty socialite, a girlfriend, an aspiring girlfriend, a glamorous actress, a reporter, a foolish woman and a seductress among others. They are all somewhat silly and should not be taken too seriously. Their music is some of Cole Porter’s very best. I don’t want to give too much away, but at this party, “Anything Goes!,” and the show is appropriate for all ages, so, the “Anything” may be a bit different than what initially comes to mind.

Q: What’s your day job?

A: I am the business manager for Bellingham Internal Medicine in Fairhaven. We are a primary care internal medicine office Monday through Friday and a walk-in clinic on Saturdays and Sundays.

Reach Margaret Bikman at 360-715-2273 or margaret.bikman@bellinghamherald.com. Read her columns at bellinghamherald.com/behind-the-scenes.

”A Swell Party With Cole Porter”

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, and Oct. 24 Firehouse Performing Arts Center, 1314 Harris Ave. and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Jansen Art Center, 321 Front St., Lynden

Cost: $15

Details: Tickets for the Bellingham shows are available at www.bellinghammusicclub.org, Village Books and Piper Music. Tickets for the Lynden show tickets are at www.jansenartcenter.org, Village Books and the Jansen Gallery Shop and by calling 360-354-3600. Details on all shows: 360-306-8580.