Seth Sharp, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, has traveled the world singing since he was a teenager. Some of his most notable performances have been for: President Clinton and Family at the White House Christmas Gala; Mother Teresa, at the Ministries of Charity in Calcutta, India; The BBC Jazz Club in London; Carnegie Hall in New York; and the National Theater of Iceland. After having a successful career in the United States as an award-winning actor and director, Sharp moved to Iceland to pursue a career in music.
It was in Iceland, that Seth started the hot new band, Black Clock. Sharp has appeared on more than a dozen television programs in Iceland and has had more than thirty articles written about him in Icelandic newspapers and magazines.
Black Clock started in 2005, when Seth Sharp was playing some gigs at Hresso (in Reykjavik) with a group of musicians and many people asked what the name of this hot new band was. Well, at the time, we were not really a band; we were just a group of musicians who were doing gigs together. So we thought we did not have a reason to have a name for ourselves. Khalif Woodard came to one of our first gigs and recorded the whole thing and eventually, Seth invited him up to sing some songs with us. That night, Seth went home and had a dream about playing in the Hartford Civic Center, where he grew up and everyone in the audience was screaming, Black Clock, Black Clock (for real!).
The next day, Seth came to the group of musicians and said what if we call ourselves, Black Clock, when we play together? Everyone seemed to like it and Khalif became a permanent member of the band. Then there was the Prince Tribute Concert series. This was a hugely popular event at Gaukur a Stöng in downtown Reykjavik. During that period, we added the lovely Deandra as a dancer and she became a member of Black Clock.
But, we had a dilemma about what to call ourselves, so we performed as both the Prince Tribute Band and Black Clock. To make matters more confusing, the band members changed over time because the base closed down. See, Khalif and Deandra were stationed in Iceland with the military and they were sent to other countries. The only permanent members of Black Clock were really Khalif, Deandra and Seth because the musicians always changed depending upon the gig. Seth and Khalif just called themselves Black Clock every time they did a gig.
Fast forward a month, Seth was asked to do a benefit concert at a coffee shop in down town Reykjavik. The organizer of the event found Seth a guitar player and a drummer. The guitar player was Steindor and the drummer was Valtyr. These guys played together several times at some clubs in Reykjavik and had a blast until Steindor moved to London. Oh well. Soon it became Seth, Valtyr and Khalif as the permanent members of the band with guest musicians when we had a gig.
Fast forward a couple of months. Seth sang at a big concert in Langholtskirkja with the Gospel Sisters of Reykjavik. Seth teaches singing to some of the women with the choir and periodically, he is a guest soloist and helps conduct the choir in performances. At this particular performance, one of the young girls in the choir had a brother who really enjoyed Seth's singing. In this particular performance, Seth sang "Purple Rain" and had everyone standing up and clapping and singing along. Everyone who knows Iceland knows that this is a commanding feat to get Icelanders up on their feet singing and clapping on a sunny afternoon.
Seth was introduced to Jon, who noted that "Purple Rain" was one of his favorite songs. Seth was looking for a pianist for the upcoming Prince Tribute Concert and for the band, Black Clock, so he heard Jon play the piano and was blown away and asked Jon to join the band. With three full-time members, Seth wanted a regular gig where the fellas could always perform and try out new music. Seth put out a call to several people and one of his students at Domus Vox, the choir school, offered to let the boys sing at her father's restaurant, Hornid, in down town Reykjavik. This became a bi-weekly tradition on Thursdays.
Hornid is cited as being a birthplace of live jazz in Iceland. Its basement club, djupid is said to be one of the first places to have live jazz in Reykjavik, but the club had not been playing jazz for some time. When Black Clock started playing there, it became a jazz revival.
After playing at Hornid and then getting a grant from the US Embassy to do a big show at Hotel Borg with Vedis Hervor, the boys started enjoying more popularity. Seth invited many of his former and current students to sing at Hornid. Gudbjorg Elisa has become a mainstay at Hornid with the Black Clock band. She has also done several Prince Tribute concerts with Seth and Jon.
Jon mentioned that his friend, Hallgrimur was an amazing cello player and that he really enjoyed Black Clock's music. Seth invited Hallgrimur to play at Hornid one Thursday and Hallgrimur took the concert to another level. The most impressive thing we heard was Hallgrimur playing the Purple Rain solo on a cello and just as fast as Prince. From that day on, Black Clock became officially, Seth Sharp, vocalist; Jon Elisson, piano; Valtyr Sigurdsson, drums; and Hallgrimur Jonas Jensson on the cello. Khalif and Deandra are still honorary members and Gudbjorg sings with the guys as often as she can. In fact, the band had a wildly popular gig at Pravda (downtown Reykjavik) during Menningarnott (Culture Night) and were seen by a full audience inside the club as well as thousands of passersby, who stopped to hear the mellifluous sounds coming from the open windows and doors at Pravda.
Black Clock is excited to release its first CD of standards and popular songs. Black Clock is known for its clever arrangements that have arisen out of the creativity and diversity of its members. Seth and Hallgrimur are both classically-trained and Jon and Valtyr are self-taught and the combination of improv and tradition creates a unique sound that audiences have come to anticipate when they come to see a Black Clock show.
Many people have asked about the name Black Clock. Is it some kind of cultural statement? In the US, African-Americans have something called, bp time (or black people) which means that they are often late. So many people have asked if that's what Black Clock stands for, like a clock for African-Americans.
Is it a political statement? Some people want to know if the name Black Clock comes from having a black lead singer in an Icelandic band.
Is it a play on words even? Well...not intentionally.
Because the name came to Seth in a dream, it's just a name that came in a dream and in Reykjavik, Black Clock is becoming to mean a band that gives incredible live shows and now is coming out with an album. So, our question is: what's next?