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Bonners Ferry Native is Air Supply's Opening Act On the Road - and Now at Home

When Shari Short, of Bonners Ferry, was a child she said she would perform on the Sandpoint Festival stage. Only a few years later (she is now 17) Shari will be opening for and playing with Air Supply on August 10th. After playing all over the country with the group, she is excited to be coming home and performing for family and friends. 

Shari is an amazing blend of youthful energy and wisdom beyond her years; shoot for the stars confidence blended with beauty, sensitivity, humility and earthbound grounding. She first began performing at age four, singing with her sisters in their group called The Short Wave. At ten she began performing in her sister Sandy's children's theater productions. One of the parts she played was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. It would appear she got the meaning behind the story. 

Shari certainly has heart, courage, and brains as well as the awareness she is her own wizard. Even with her strong spirit she allows for learning from others and gives credit to those who have supported and taught her. She's able to incorporate the guidance of those who support and love her with her own personal dreams.

At the age of 14 Shari entered Miss Teen USA thinking it was a way to promote her musical talents. She discovered it was a beauty contest with only a brief interview. She was one of the youngest contestants and she wore her sister's hand-me-down prom dress. She won. 

After returning to Bonner's Ferry the fall of 1999, Shari relates that although she didn't feel any different, other kids started treating her differently. They started calling her the "beauty queen" and taunting her. 

She had a friend, Ben Zwinger, a young man who was also treated differently and taunted by the other kids. Shari and Ben found common ground in their rejection.

In the midst of preparation for the Miss Teen USA pageant her Idaho coach quit and she had to find someone else to help her. The closest help she could find was in Utah. 

In April of 2000 the pain of life became too much for Ben Zwinger and he committed suicide. Shari was devastated and found a voice for her pain in her music and wrote a song. This experience, as she described it, of having to go deep inside herself to try to understand and heal, would change her life. Shari began then to feel that part of her mission in life was to spread the message about the importance of accepting people for whom they are, not judging and being compassionate towards others.

In May she flew to Salt Lake to work with the coach for the Miss Teen pageant. While having dinner with one of her coaches, the young man who was playing music saw Shari watching him and asked if she played. She said she did and he invited her on stage. She sang, "Pull the Trigger," the song she wrote after Ben's death, for the first time publicly. 

One of the coaches was Jodi Russell, wife of Graham Russell of Air Supply. After hearing Shari sing, Jodi called Graham and told him he had to hear her. Shortly after competing in the Miss Teen USA pageant and winning Miss Congeniality, she flew to meet Graham Russell. She performed for him; he was amazed with her voice and the depth of her writing. She started recording in his studio, backed up by Air Supply the next day. The CD is I'm Living and includes "Pull the Trigger." Shari also was invited to tour with Air Supply, an invitation she accepted. She was suddenly playing New York, Toronto, Las Angeles and around the U.S. for over a year. Shari sings backup, performs duets with Russel, and plays keyboard. She is also their opening act, where she accompanies herself on the guitar.

When we interviewed Shari it was obvious she understands the personal power of her dreams. The joyful exuberance that she displays is contagious and fun. She dreamed of playing the Festival and got it, she dreamed of being in an independent film and was recently signed to star in one.

With all this success she remembers it always hasn't felt so good. Shari also remembers her desire to spread the message of living your dreams and overcoming the limits that may have been imposed upon you. She is committed to helping others realize their personal dreams and power. 

Always remembering Ben, his friendship and what she knew of his pain, she takes her un-plugged show to universities and high schools. This performance includes talking about her struggles, the power of hurtful words and the importance of finding, listening to and pursuing your own dreams. 

Shari still feels she is evolving. While stretching the boundaries of her personal talents, she is completing high school through the alternative school and correspondence courses. As much as she loves her work as a musician and performer she admits to missing the chance to play school basketball. She treasures coming home to Bonners Ferry and hopes to buy property there. Living with her family, she feels very grateful to her Mom and Dad for their love and support. Each of her sisters has their own path and yet she says that they always support and love each other.

Her roots are definitely in Bonners Ferry and her sight's are "somewhere over the rainbow." She is walking the talk of her song- I'm Living. "I'm dancing like no ones watching me and I'm swimming like a shark in the sea. Take my chances, like I throw the dice, moving ahead without thinking twice, seeing it through till the end, yeah and I won't break cause I know how to bend."

For CD information see sharishort.com.  

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

Tagged as:

Festival at Sandpoint, Entertainment, music, Shari Short, Bonners Ferry

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