Cherylann Hawk: Spreading sonic Love & Gratitude

by | Jun 30, 2024

Meet Cherylann Hawk

Cherylann HawkFor over 25 years, Cherylann Hawk has been a vibrant presence in the Pittsburgh music scene, releasing three full-length CDs and several singles, with three recorded at her home studio, SunHawk Studio. In June 2024, she will release her latest single, “Love & Gratitude,” under SunHawk Records. Cherylann has collaborated with numerous local and international performers, notably Pittsburgh singer/songwriter John Vento, and is a member of the acoustic group “Vento, Ziggy, Hawk & McCarthy” (VZH&M). Beyond her music, she has contributed music and voiceovers for IRead2Know on iHeart Radio, participated in the Sonny Pugar Foundation’s “Music Smiles” program, and performed at retirement homes and charity events such as those organized by Band Together Pittsburgh, a non-profit that supports children on the autism spectrum through music.#

Passionate about fostering community and collaboration among artists, Cherylann co-founded AcoustiCafe and has hosted open mics for over 20 years, continuing virtually during the pandemic, including via Facebook and YouTube, as well as virtual performances on Second Life, partnering with John Stone (aka Eyeclectic) from Canton, Ohio, to support non-profit organizations through their initiative HeArts Coming Together. Today, Cherylann performs live with VZH&M, Pittsburgh Jam Band theCAUSE, Reuben’s Painted Mandolin, and other acts, spreading her message of love and gratitude.

The sound of Cherylann Hawk

1 In Music: What is unique about you and your music?

Cherylann HawkCherylann Hawk [CH]: I really love to connect eye to eye, and heart to heart with those who see and hear me. I begin each song with the hopes of lifting someone up, strumming a heart string that will change their day, or their life, for the better. I love to draw from a variety of genres when I encounter mixed audiences, but I can stick to one genre when I should. I absolutely love singing harmony and playing percussion, so I love supporting others as well as being the lead singer. No matter what my role is for any performance, I intend to make folks feel like they are a part of the music too.

What or who shaped your music and who supports you?

CH: My mom noticed I loved to sing and make up songs when I was very small. She started finding stages for me at age 4, and followed my flow, as long as it was show tunes, the Carpenters, or country music. When I moved from Wheeling, WV to Pittsburgh, PA at age 26, I was enamored by the Lilith Fair female singer/songwriters, and so I covered the chart toppers of 1996-1998, and the songs I wrote blended nicely with that vibe. And then I discovered Joni Mitchell’s immense catalogue when I went from performing with a 5 piece pop rock band, Cherylann Hawk & The Clay Band, to a laid back acoustic trio with fretless bass and congas. I loved how Joni blended folk, pop, rock, jazz and a little country at times.

And now, I sing songs from many genres in several bands, with wonderful support from those bandmates and our teams. I also have support from Sound Advice Entertainment, a booking agency that finds work for me in retirement homes, private parties and special events & venues, like today, I booked a gig at Kennywood!

When did you realize you were going to make music professionally?

CH: I started performing on stage at age 4, but it wasn’t until I saw “Coal Miner’s Daughter” when I was 12 that “I wanted to be like Loretta Lynn.” After seeing that movie, I told my mom I wanted the movie soundtrack, greatest hits albums for both Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline and their songbooks, a guitar, and guitar lessons. She granted all of my requests, then began to book me on every stage she could find.

What inspires Cherylann Hawk?

Cherylann HawkWhat type of music do you listen to?

Cherylann Hawk [CH]: I love to listen to finger style acoustic or classical guitar when I need to give myself a brain break from learning new songs to sing for special performances or for getting the feel for a style I want to focus on for a project. For a prayer poem that I turned into a song, I listened to Arabic music. Today, I’m learning Disney songs for a 23 month old child in hospice arranged by the Music Smiles Program.  I listen to Grateful Dead and the Jerry Garcia Band when learning songs to sing with theCAUSE and Reuben’s Painted Mandolin, and I listen to singer/songwriter classic rock like CSNY and James Taylor when learning songs for my acoustic group, VZH&M. When I’m with my kids, I listen to their playlists. And sometimes, I listen to silence.

Who, to you, is the most undervalued music artist?

CH: Joni Mitchell… but it seems that she is making a come back… “Gen Z gets me”, she said when asked what she thought about her album “Blue” resurfacing.

Cherylann Hawk inspiring us…

How do you prepare for your performances?

Cherylann Hawk [CH]: I make playlists of new songs I will cover, prepare lyric and chord charts for my iPad, then practice to prepare for rehearsals. If I am singing new original material with musicians who haven’t played the tunes yet, I make notes for everyone so that they have some guidance before we come together at rehearsal, whether it be specific ways I’d like them to play, or I simply let them create their own melodies and see where they flow without my guidance.

On the day of a performance, I avoid dairy and eat lightly in the hours before showtime. I drink Matcha tea with ginger, turmeric and honey, and on stage, I drink room temperature lemon & ginger water. I dress appropriately for each event, and put on a smile, even if I’m not feeling it at first. The music always turns that smile into a heartfelt expression that becomes contagious.

What do you do when you don’t do music (creative or otherwise) and that you are passionate about?

CH: I dive into my children’s worlds, whether it be chasing my daughter around at her college cross country meets or ride my bike while she runs the rails to trails of downtown Pittsburgh, or shooting hoops & playing Foosball or card games with my son. My kids keep my physically active, which counteracts the time I spend sitting in my spinny chair in my studio/office.

I was an Uber & Lyft driver for 6 years before covid, during which time I would sing to my passengers or play them my music on Spotify, if they asked what I did besides driving.

Yeah, I love to drive… behind the wheel is where I hone in my harmonies for shows, and where I’ve written many songs.

And oh yeah, I move and assemble office furniture for our VZH&M band leader, John Vento’s office furniture installation company! And when I have time, I continue with renovating my 100 year old home that I bought in October of 2022.

Success to you is…?

CH: Success to me is seeing the expressions on people’s faces soften as I sing or speak. I love to see that I have inspired folks to feel loved, to feel like they are not alone, to feel empowered to make changes, to feel better and heal better. I strive to do good things with these gifts I’ve been given that are meant to be shared.

What do you wish you were told when you started out and that you think would help anyone who starts out?

CH:

Find successful people you adore, and copy what they do, in your own unique kind of way.

Dig into their story to find out how they achieved their success, then follow a similar, yet unique path of your own. Sing about your own experiences in a way that others can relate. If you begin to not love what you’re doing, make some changes. The only constant in life is change. Go with the flow.

What is next for Cherylann Hawk?

Any upcoming projects?

Cherylann Hawk [CH]: Peace, Salaam-Shalom… a project I recorded mostly in my SunHawk Studio, then we recorded choirs at 2 other studios. My friend John Serrapere wrote these words about his prayer poem that I crafted into a song… it was written “while watching a newsreel of Israelis and Palestinians peacefully marching into a rein of bullets in 2021. Most of those killed were mothers and their children seeking a home.

I believe Peace-Salaam, Shalom will be heard by Peacemakers, those active in confronting hate with a bow and armed with our Prayer Song. Our Prayer-Song is a Powerful weapon against violence at home and abroad. The progression of the song begins with hope and ends in celebration with Mothers with their children dancing at a Feast of Peace.”

I’v been in an acoustic group called “Vento, Ziggy, Hawk & McCarthy” (VZH&M) since August of 2023. We are releasing an EP on 9/20/24, and will be doing an album release concert at the Warhol Theater on the north shore of Pittsburgh.

Huge thanks for joining us. Where can we find your music?

Cherylann Hawk [CH]: On all streaming platforms, and on BandCamp, for which you can find the link on my web site, listed below.

https://www.CherylannHawk.com

https://linktr.ee/CherylannHawk