By Kurt Wolff
Kevin Sharp, a country hitmaker from the 1990s who had been battling cancer since he was a teenager, died Saturday night (April 19). He was 43.
According to a message posted on Sharp’s website, he died “due to ongoing complications from past stomach surgeries and digestive issues.”
Sharp was best known for the platinum-selling hit “Nobody Knows.” Originally a song by R&B artist Tony Rich, Sharp’s version reached No. 1 on the country charts in 1997 and helped earn him an ACM Award nomination for Top New Male Vocalist.
The song appeared on Sharp’s debut album Measure of a Man, which also included subsequent hit songs “She’s Sure Taking It Well” and “If You Love Somebody.”
Born in 1970 in Redding, Calif., Sharp grew up in Idaho and California, where he was a high school sports player when he was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer known as Ewing’s sarcoma. Because of this, the Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted him, and his wish was to meet David Foster, producer of the group Chicago. Sharp’s cancer then went into remission, and through Foster, he began to focus on a music career. His debut album, Measure of a Man, was released in 1996.
Sharp also became a spokesperson for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and earned the group’s Wish Granter of the Year award in 1997. He also published a book about his struggles and triumphs called Tragedy’s Gift. And according to his website, in recent years Sharp had also become a motivational speaker.
“My life is performing and speaking, so not only does it keep a roof over my head, it keeps me going emotionally,” Sharp told Country Weekly in 2012, a quote published in today’s obituary for the artist in the Nashville Tennessean. “If I didn’t believe what I try to express and tell others, I wouldn’t be here. Luckily, I believe in what I preach.”