Wednesday, 31 May 2017


Leanna Maree "Max" Sharam was born in Benalla, Australia in 1969. She grew up near Beaufort about 160 km west of Melbourne and studied classical singing and the electronic organ from an early age and was one of the four girl sopranos in pink frocks singing in The Sounds of Sunday Massed Choir in Ballarat Uniting Church, conducted by Musical Director W. H. Keith Young (M.B.E), which was recorded and televised weekly for BTV Channel 6. Following her graduation from arts college, with a major in Behavioural Science, Max moved to Europe. Max spent several years traveling around Europe where she initially made a living from busking. Sharam while based in Rome, Italy was part of a bohemian community of artists that included Kurt Wenner known for his groundbreaking street art.

Whilst performing in Florence, Italy, Carlo Picone RAI news journalist and producer invited her to audition for Forza Venite Gente, a popular Italian rock opera, starring Oreste Lionello, for which she landed a lead role. The musical toured across Europe for two years. Other Italian Theatre productions engaged her, including Kolbe directed by Polish film director – Krzysztof Zanussi and Tadeaus Bradecki. She received the Star of the Year award at Genoa's Cole Porter Festival, recorded and released a dance extended play, "I'm Occupied". Her story was documented in an Italian television program, La Ragazza con la Chitarra ("Girl with the Guitar"), shown on RAI TV. Sharam spent a year in Japan studying Taiko drums and fronting a Japanese band Climax based in Hiroshima before returning to Australia where she worked as a stand-up comedian – performing regularly on the Sydney Comedy Circuit with the likes of Adam Hills, Kitty Flanagan, Paul Livingstone (Flacco), Wil Anderson, Mark Trevorrow (Bob Downe), Vince Sorrenti and Judith Lucy. She also appeared on Red Faces, Hey Hey it`s Saturday TV.

Max started a number of small-time Sydney bands, Minx and 'Gaudi', and performed regularly in an all electronica outfit, Fleshworld. In 1992, Sharam performed her self-penned song "Coma" on the television talent show New Faces, reaching the finals and attracting the attention of a number of record companies. Soon after, under the banner of Max Sharam: The Sounds of Sirens, she was performing regular sell-out solo acoustic shows at Kinselas nightclub in Darlinghurst. Sharam subsequently secured a recording contract with Warner Music Australia in 1994, which issued her debut EP, "Coma", in October – produced by Daniel Denholm and Nick Mainsbridge – with the song peaking at No. 14 on the ARIA Singles Chart during February 1995 and was voted the eighth most popular song on radio station, Triple J's Hottest 100 of 1994. Her debut album, A Million Year Girl, was released in 1995 and achieved gold accreditation and reached No. 9 in the ARIA Albums Chart

At the ARIA Music Awards of 1995 Sharam was nominated in eight categories, losing to Tina Arena and Silverchair, but winning "Best Cover Artwork" for the album with Dominic O'Brien. It provided two more Top 40 singles, "Be Firm" (No. 25 in June) and "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)" (a cover of Melanie Safka's song, which reached No. 36 in November). Her fourth single, "Is It OK If I Call You Mine?", a cover written by Paul McCrane for the film Fame, was released in February 1996 but peaked outside the top 100. After several subsequent sell-out national tours, Sharam disappeared from the Australian mainstream music scene moving to Los Angeles for several years. Sharam re-appeared in Channel 9's TV documentary Dream Factory, shot in Los Angeles.

In 2000 Max moved to Manhattan, New York where she continued to write. She wrote and staged her first one-woman show, MadmoselleMax, for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. In January 2005, she performed "Butterfly Suicide" at the Hong Kong Fringe Festival. The one-woman P'Opera (a "Virtual Variety/Multi Media Musical") featured the misadventures of "ill Soprano", a highly-strung opera diva who takes to the streets at night singing. Sharam performed and produced the music for 2006 AFI award winning documentary Forbidden Lie$ and in 2007 wrote, performed and produced the closing credit song for Expired, a movie starring Samantha Morton, Jason Patric, Ileana Douglas and Teri Garr. In 2008 Sharam continued to tread new ground and experiment with platforms, creating video performance based art. She was invited to join the New York Foundation for the Arts, a not-for-profit arts organization, panel for Video Art. In February 2009, she returned to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with her show Songs and Stories from My Suitcase and followed it up with another more experimental production ″Bushpygmalian″ which featured Max's animated artworks in a semi-autobiographical tale.

In 2011 Max was named as a finalist in the APRA Professional Development Awards and in 2013 The Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition. Sharam also created the music and sound design for the play Anaconda, which won 'Best Original Play' at Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2012. Sharam was twice recipient of the Ballhausen Pipe Organ Scholarship (2016/17) and commenced work on original compositions for Pipe Organ. She was also selected to participate in a Memoir Writing Mentorship Program through City of Melbourne Library and performed her written word work at the Melbourne Writers Festival. In addition she was invited to join the panel of Creative Victoria in the area of Music Theatre and Performance. In 2012, Sharam launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise funds to record new work with Grammy Award-winning producer Malcolm Burn. The new EP, Hysteria (The Gods Envy) "songs thematically linked – stories of young girls/women crashing through the safety net of society",was scheduled for an independent release in 2014. In 2014 Max supported Cyndi Lauper on Lauper's 'She's So Unusual' 30th Anniversary Tour. In June, 2017 Max's performance art will be part of an exhibit in Fabrik der K√ľnste in Hamburg, Germany.



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