Northern California-reared country singer Kevin Sharp, whose gentle tenor voice helped him score a handful of country hits in the late 1990s after winning a battle with cancer as a teenager, has died at 43.
It wasn’t the cancer that took his life but complications from digestive system illness he developed in recent years and for which he underwent surgery about five years ago, his sister, Mary Huston, told the Sacramento Bee. He died Saturday, April 19, at his mother’s home in Fair Oaks, Calif.
He’d spent 10 weeks in the hospital earlier this year being treated for more complications of past stomach surgeries and digestive issues, she said. Sharp, who was born Dec. 10, 1970, in Redding, moved with his family to Idaho before returning to settle in Sacramento.
He arrived on the music scene in 1996 with his single “Nobody Knows,” which spent four weeks at No. 1. That helped push his debut album, “Measure of a Man,” to No. 4 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, an album that also yielded Top 10 hits “She’s Sure Taking It Well” and “If You Love Somebody.”
The album’s cover photo made no attempt to hide his baldness, a remnant of treatment he’d undergone in his late teens and early 20s after being diagnosed as a high school senior with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
The treatment was successful, and one outcome of his experience with cancer is that the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted his request to meet Grammy-winning producer and songwriter David Foster, who helped Sharp get his own career rolling.
Sharp’s second album, “Love Is,” was released in 1998, and he put out a third, “Make A Wish” in 2005. He devoted much of his time to working for the Make-A-Wish Foundation as a motivational speaker, and he wrote a book, “Tragedy’s Gift,” about his fight with cancer that was published in 2004.
"His dream came true through music,” Huston told the Bee, “and he touched thousands of lives, and he helped heal the soul of people dealing with cancer."
In addition to Huston, Sharp is survived by his mother, another sister and five brothers.
Follow Randy Lewis on Twitter: @RandyLewis2