Sharny Russell

Sharny Russell is a seasoned and respected Australian jazz singer, pianist, composer and
teacher of unique abilities. Her list of experience and achievements is difficult to categorize.
After completing her studies at Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 1976, studying
classical piano with the renowned Nancy Weir, Sharny moved to Adelaide where she sang on
ABC radio children’s programs, directed two Yamaha Foundation music schools, trained new
teachers, performed jazz and worked piano bars regularly, and co-opened a jazz venue
where national and international artists performed. She also lead the contemporary worship
music at her city church and was constantly writing new music for those services, eventually
contributing to a series of modern church song books and the Australian hymn book. She
played piano for various musical theatre shows, and for the Channel 9 children’s television
production, Here’s Humphrey. Sustaining major cranio-facial injuries from a life-changing car
accident failed to slow Sharny down. She and her family moved to Sydney where she was
performing almost immediately at its major jazz venues, including the iconic Basement, with a
21 year old James Morrison in her band. Family issues brought her back to her home town of
Toowoomba, where she continued to teach piano and Yamaha music classes (at her
mother’s music school), sang the flute part of the Brandenburg No. 6 duet concerto with the
Toowoomba Sinfonia, and wrote her first two commissioned Christian school musicals.
Eventually moving to Brisbane and still raising four children, she wrote, arranged and
recorded her first gospel album of originals, a kids’ album, was rehearsal pianist for the Rocky
Horror Show at QPAC, and taught at the summer jazz clinics at Queensland Conservatorium.
As a performing artist, Sharny has recorded on the ABC Classics label and won an APRA
Award, recorded two albums with the iconic guitarist George Golla, plus two gospel albums.
In 2017 Sharny released and toured her latest jazz originals album “Comes A Time” in every
Australian capital city, which included the Melbourne Women’s international Jazz Festival.
Sharny has performed at the National Chamber Festival, and at many jazz festivals around
the country, toured with Grace Knight and the Central Qld jazz orchestra for the ABC,
recorded guest piano or voice for other’s projects, and shared the stage with many of the
who’s-who of Australian music, including James Morrison, Darren Percival, Vince Jones,
British guitar virtuoso Martin Taylor, The Idea of North and Katie Noonan.
Sharny is a recognised educator in the Australian jazz community. Over the period of some
challenging family years, she was asked twice to become the vocal teacher for the newly
birthed jazz department at Qld Con, but she declined both times. After moving to Byron Bay
in 2000 she finally accepted the teaching appointment and taught alongside voice guru Dr
Irene Bartlett for twelve years, and also at the Jazz Music Institute for a further ten years.
Award winning singers such as Kristin Berardi, Megan Washington, Elly Hoyt, Eurovision
runner up Dami Im, and The Fearless Singer creator Mel Lathouras, have all been Sharny’s
students. Sharny is grateful to have performed with many of Australia’s and USA’s top jazz
musicians and educators during those years. She has been invited to present at several local,
national and international conferences, including the International Jazz Vocal Conference in
Helsinki in 2019. Apart from presenting on voice and improvisation, her favourite topic is
contemporary piano accompaniment. Sharny has long been mentored by the extraordinary
Australian pianist and cross-genre composer and jazz educator Judy Bailey, who only
stopped teaching at Sydney Conservatorium at the age of 84 due to a fall.
As a composer, arranger and producer, Sharny has written a broad body of work spanning

many genres and ensembles, including music for small instrumental trios, chamber orchestra,
and a cappella groups. Her piece “Gratitude” for Jazz Voice, Chamber Orchestra and Harp
was premiered by the Gold Coast Chamber Orchestra in November 2020. She has arranged
and produced albums for herself and others, written four short musicals, composed songs
and instrumental pieces for large events, and written commissioned school anthems for six
Australian schools. She is known for her fresh approach to jazz composition, and a Sydney
Eisteddfod senior adjudicator has urged Sharny to publish her children’s gospel songs “as
there is not much music of this quality left, once we have used all of Miriam Hyde’s (iconic
Australian composer).”
As a producer and director, Sharny has produced several albums for other artists, and was
the artistic and musical director of Carols By The Sea for 14 years – a significantly large event
on the Byron Bay community calendar.
Sharny has recently moved to Armidale, NSW and is excited to be performing a little jazz here
and there, and to join the staff at the New England Conservatorium of Music and The
Armidale School.
Sharny has written a song to address global violence against women entitled “Crossing The
Line and a stunning lyric video was commissioned for this, viewable on (filmed and created by original The Idea of North founder Andrew

“ … the relaxed, attractive and secure vocal talents of Sharny Russell …extreme class. You
know you’re in good hands.” Shane Nichols, Financial Review.
“… Sharny is unique in Australian jazz… she could be one of the world’s most important scat
singers.”   Eric Myers, veteran jazz critic for The Australian.   
“…. standards alongside superbly written originals, all voiced by a superior singer.” Barry
O’Sullivan, Jazz Australia