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Country musician Kevin Sharp, who defied the odds in a well-publicized battle with cancer in the 1990s prior to becoming a hit artist on the Billboard country charts, has died at the age of 43.
He passed away Saturday evening (April 19) due to ongoing complications from past stomach surgeries and digestive issues, according to the artist’s website.
Sharp was born in in Redding, Calif., on Dec. 10, 1970. At age 7, he and his family moved to Idaho for before returning to California in the mid-1980s. During high school, Sharp began to flex his creative muscles with appearances in local musicals.
But in 1989, Sharp began to experience excessive dizziness and fatigue. After doctors performed several tests, it was determined that he had Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of blood cancer. He was given slim odds of recovery and went through two years of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, permanently losing his hair as a result.
It was during this time that (with the help of the Make-A-Wish Foundation) he met legendary producer David Foster, with whom he developed a strong friendship. In the mid ’90s, Sharp began work on a demo tape, which he passed on to the producer, who in turn helped him secure a deal with Asylum Records in Nashville.
Sharp’s debut album, Measure Of A Man, was released in November 1996, and was certified Gold for sales in excess of 500,000 copies. Helping to make the album a success was the first single, “Nobody Knows,” a country version of the song made famous by the Tony Rich Project. The song spent four weeks atop the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Tracks chart.
Sharp charted two more top 10 hits in 1997 — “She’s Sure Taking It Well” and “If You Love Somebody.” He released one more album for Asylum, Love Is in 1998, before departing the label. The singer inked a deal with Nashville independent label Cupit in 2005, for which he released the album Make A Wish.
His last single was 2011’s “Let Me Rock You To Sleep.”
Sharp gave back to the Make-A-WIsh Foundation, becoming one of its leading spokespersons, and also toured the United States as a motivational speaker, telling audiences of the struggles he overcame to succeed in the music business.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
This article first appeared on Billboard.com.
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