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Sheryl began piano lessons at age 5, and growing up on the music of artists such as Christine McVie, Elton John, and Bob Dylan, she composed her first song at age 13. She went on to major in music at the University of Missouri in Columbia, and while there, she became part of a rock cover band named Cashmere. After graduating, Sheryl taught music to autistic children for two years at a St. Louis elementary school, and has since been an advocate of Save the Music, a program that supports the teaching of music in schools.
Sheryl’s career as a professional singer/songwriter has its roots in hard work and perseverance. She began by moving to Los Angeles in 1986, where she worked as a waitress and searched for music gigs in her free time. Eventually, she managed to get work singing for several commercial spots, including a McDonald’s jingle. Around this time, she auditioned as a backup singer for Michael Jackson, and impressed his camp enough to be accepted onto the two year Bad world tour.
Following the end of Jackson’s tour in 1989, Sheryl suffered a six month bout with depression. Her music career managed to survive through this tumultuous time, and she got more work doing backup vocals for Sting, Foreigner, Stevie Wonder, and Rod Stewart, as well as for Don Henley on the End of the Innocence tour.
Meanwhile, she continued to write songs, some of which were recorded by the likes of Celine Dion, Wynonna Judd, and Eric Clapton. Sheryl’s debut album Tuesday Night Music Club was released in the fall of 1993. In early 1994, it began climbing the charts, fueled by the success of the single “Leaving Las Vegas.” The infectious pop-single All I Wanna Do, the work on Tuesday Night Music Club earned Sheryl a slew of awards.
At the 37th Annual Grammy Awards in 1995, “All I Wanna Do” won Record of the Year, the first time the award had been scooped up by a newcomer in years. Sheryl also won Best Female Pop Vocal for the song, as well as Best New Artist. The album has sold over 6 million copies.