By Gabriel Ramirez
Local singer Kelly Jean Sarratt, 44, has been singing professionally since she was in high school. She recently moved to Bakersfield last year and has begun hitting our local restaurants -- you may have seen her most recently at the The Mark. Sarratt, who is often accompanied by her band The Hit Machine, enjoys singing everything from R&B and country to jazz and "old standards" from the 1930s.
Sarratt shared a little more about herself with Bakersfield Life.
Where else have you performed?
Most of the places we perform are private events, like charity fundraisers and corporate parties at country clubs and event centers. In recent years, we have played events for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudy Giuliani, Chuck Norris, Southern California Edison ... and the Ronald Reagan Library. Some of the most fun events are for the fair and festival crowds. I have also performed the national anthem at several sporting events, which is always fun. I'm looking to add Cal State Bakersfield basketball games to that list this year.
How did you get involved with singing?
My favorite childhood memories are of my daddy singing and playing his guitar. As soon as I could speak, he was teaching me to sing his favorite songs with him. I loved to harmonize with him, singing to the radio in the car to the The Beach Boys, The Beatles and Jan and Dean. When I was in junior high school, I founded my first "garage band." When I was 17, in 11th grade, I did my first performance with a real band, "The Bottom Line," in the quad at lunchtime at my high school.
What has been the most challenging aspect of establishing a singing career?
Honestly, it was only challenging when I was young and naive about the music industry, and I was sure I was going to be the next Madonna. As an adult, I let go of my grandiose dreams of being a famous pop star and learned to enjoy singing and performing whenever I could. I have been blessed to be surrounded by a group of brilliant and accomplished musicians who have become my family. They introduced me to a whole different world of music.
The latest "challenge" has been moving here to a new town and trying to find my place among the local Bakersfield music scene.
Who is your favorite singer?
Don't laugh, but my daughter, Karianne, is my favorite singer. She is incredible, so much better than I was at her young age of 21. She has begun what is to be an incredibly bright future in music. Already famous singers I admire are Ella Fitzgerald, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Etta James, Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and that little girl who came in second on "American Idol" last year, Jessica Sanchez. That girl has serious pipes!
Can you tell us about a memorable moment in your singing career?
More recently was the time I saw legendary singer Paul Anka sitting in the front row during a performance at the Sherwood Lake Country Club last year. After the set, I was introduced to him and I said, "Excited to meet you sir, I'm such a fan!" He replied, "Well, now I am a fan of yours as well!"
What is life like off the stage?
In my day job -- as a Placer Title Company sales representative -- I spend my days meeting with the real estate community in Bakersfield, Frazier Park and Pine Mountain Club. In my free time, I enjoy working out at the gym, gardening and hanging out with my family. This summer I married my best friend, Jeff, bought a house and started my new job as a sales rep. I am the mother of two awesome kids, and I also have two fantastic stepchildren.
How would you describe the music scene in Bakersfield?
The music scene in Bakersfield is rich and diverse. It seems like there is always somewhere to find great live music any night of the week. I am excited about the opportunity to work with some new people. I am so glad I moved to a place that has such a sincere appreciation for music.
What are your hopes for the future of your career?
Just to keep on singing. Continue to travel with the band, and work some of the cool venues here in town with the fantastic talent I'm finding in Bakersfield. I would love to play with a band at the (Buck Owens') Crystal Palace someday.
How can people get a chance to hear you?
Most of my upcoming gigs are private events. But, I just had an absolutely fantastic night at The Mark restaurant downtown. I love this venue and hope to be a regular on their calendar. We are also working with the management at Cafe Med and Padre Hotel to book some dates for the band.
Feel free to get in touch with my manager and husband, Jeff Sarratt, for booking availability: firstname.lastname@example.org. And friend me on Facebook, and you can find Hit Machine at Myspace for a few samples.