When she was a young girl, Sheri Somerville went to a screening of The Sound of Music, and after she witnessed Julie Andrews dancing and singing up the hill, she knew she wanted to become a performer. “I saw my future and my whole head nearly exploded,” recounts Somerville. After several repeat viewings and sing-alongs, she discovered she had a strong voice, and her mother signed her up for music lessons.
After studying in several prestigious music programs in the country, Somerville’s career shifted when a musical director introduced her to obscure showtunes. They put together a revue for a nightclub act, and Somerville began to perform around the world in cities such as Paris and Hong Kong. However, once she had her first baby, she decided to return to Edmonton so her family could help raise her son while she continued her career. “As a woman who was raising two children while trying to have a career, Edmonton and the women and families in the community allowed me to have my career by keeping my children safe,” says Somerville. “I feel a debt of gratitude to give back to the city who gave me so much and allowed me to have a wonderful career as a performing artist.”
She describes her current role as the executive director for Citie Ballet as an “arts matchmaker.” “I reach out into the community and I bring in ideas,” explains Somerville. Though it may seem odd for someone who’s used to being centre stage to move to this background role, Somerville believes one influences the other. “It’s only because I’ve had a career in music with some dance and lots of theatre that I understand the dynamics of what’s necessary on stage to create something memorable and meaningful.”
Somerville still spends time in the spotlight though. On top of continuing to record new music, she regularly performs with Die-Nasty, the live improvised soap opera. “It’s hard for me to give up meeting some of the most talented people in Edmonton every night and playing together,” says Somerville. “It keeps me creatively sharp.”
Visit Citie Ballet’s website to learn more about their upcoming performance. —Matthew Stepanic