Musician's Biographies
Getting to know.... Cheryl Christine
For Cheryl Christine, a popular Hilton Head Island singer and pianist, life without music is simply unimaginable.
"Music has always been a big part of my life," she says. "You can portray a lot of emotions through music. You can use music to make people happy. I get a lot out of playing for people."
Christine began playing the piano at age four in her hometown of St. Paul, Minn. "I was always interested in performing," she recalls. "It's a lot of fun."
Today, Christine performs Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at Jenny's Ristorante Italiano, a popular Hilton Head Island restaurant and lounge. She plays a wide range of music, including swing, shag, country and Broadway show tunes and always welcomes audience requests. Her most frequently requested songs include "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," and "Crazy," but she plays plenty of music by Johnny Mercer and George Gershwin as well.
"I love audience participation," she says. "I love the immediate reaction between the audience and myself."
When couples take to the dance floor, which they do quite often, Christine is thrilled to see people having a good time and enjoying her music. During her cabaret-style show, this talented performer typically plays melody on the piano with her right hand and bass on a synthesizer with her left hand. Saxophone player Steve Rich usually joins her onstage at Jenny's on Friday evenings, much to the delight of local music fans.
Christine's audience is generally over the age of 50, but she describes them as a remarkably hip crowd. "They're not waiting for the world to end," she says. "They're very energetic. Hilton Head is always a fun crowd."
This versatile singer and pianist lives in Grahamville, S.C., but her music has, quite literally, taken her all over the world. Shegot her first singing job more than 20 years ago in White Bear Lake, Minn., and went on the headline several European tours between 1984 and 1990, performing her original compositions in Scandinavia, Austria, Greece, Italy, Turkey and Switzerland. Over the years, she has always been a popular performer at resorts like The Breakers in Palm Springs, Fla., and the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. On Hilton Head Island, locals and visitors alike have heard her tickle the ivories at Reilley's, Crazy Crab and Kingfisher Restaurant.
Christine first discovered South Carolina in 1986, when her agent booked her to play on Hilton Head Island for one month immediately after her return from a tour of Sweden. Soon after arriving in the Palmetto State, she found herself unexpectedly smitten by her new surroundings. "I love the beach and the beauty and the nature," she says. "I love the small-town atmosphere."
She briefly co-owned The Casablanca Piano Bar before opening Cheryl's Le Cabaret Piano Bar on Hilton Head Island in 1991, which proved to be a popular nightspot for 10 years.
"It was so homey," she recalls. "People really felt comfortable there."
Over the years, she has won a number of songwriting competitions, signed a recording contract with Comstock Records and been awarded a Hilton Head Grammy Award. She has studied film and video production at the Savannah College of Art and Design and even recorded country music in Nashville, Tenn.
Today, she works part-time as a producer and director at WHHI on Hilton Head Island, volunteering at the Jasper County Animal Shelter in Ridgeland in her spare time. She is currently working on a CD of meditative music to promote healing in cancer patients. A breast cancer survivor herself, Christine understands that music can promote physical and psychological healing.
Her interest in music therapy, she says, began when she created relaxing soundtracks for animals, to help reduce separation anxiety in high-strung pets. By combining cricket chirps, bird sounds, flute and piano, she created soothing music for cats and dogs.
She also enjoys performing occasionally with the Fred Nimmer Swingtime Orchestra, a high-energy 16-piece orchestra that performs at charity balls, weddings and special events from Charleston to Savannah. With her versatile soprano, she brings swing favorites to life.
Christine says that blues and ballads are her two favorite musical styles but admits, "I like the polka once in a while, too!"
The piano has been a dominant force in her life since she was a young girl. When she takes the stage, seated at her piano, there's no place in the world she'd rather be. "It's a beautiful instrument," she says with a smile. "It's versatile and it's what I know how to do."
Reprinted with permission by Coastal Senior.
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