The Music of Shareen TorresShareen began singing at the age of 2 and has not stopped since. As a child she sang in children's Latin choirs, and fell in love with the spiritual uplifting of melodic harmonies. Shareen taught herself to play guitar in Jr. High School and became one of the many folk and pop music enthusiasts of the 60's playing for school assemblies, in small rock bands or at hospitals. While in college, Shareen developed "music therapy practicums" where she could earn college credit and overcome stage fright at the same time. She would sing at hospitals and nursing homes, keeping a journal about what aspect of the music seemed to connect with different groups of people. This experience proved invaluable over the years in teaching Shareen how to connect with diverse groups of people and cultures, through music.
While attending college Shareen worked as a mental health therapist, using music in the therapeutic process. At nights she sang in restaurants and lounges, enjoying the emotional connection and intimacy that is achieved through sharing music with others. Her heart was always first a musician, so in 1978 as a single mother with two small children, she moved to California to try her luck as a fulltime musician. Her big break came while singing in San Francisco, where she was contracted to perform in Japan as a singer-songwriter. This led to a 6 year period of recording original music and performing in Japan. The Japanese people loved Shareen's "clear crystal" voice and the way her music touched their hearts and challenged them to view.
When Shareen was home, she would perform free concerts for special causes such as the Arthritis Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Will Rogers Institute, World Peace Organization, and at children's hospitals and convelscent homes. Shareen has worked musically to raise money for the homeless, for domestic violence programs and for children and adults suffering addictions. She believes strongly in the impact and importance of music in our lives and believes it has the power to heal or hurt. Morally, she refuses to write, sing or perform any music which she believes might have a negative impact on another person. For Shareen it is all about love and healing. When listening to Shareen, you often see tears, but they are the cleansing tears of joy and healing.
In 1984 Shareen was invited by the World Peace Organization, in Tokyo Japan, to write the theme song for their 1984 World Peace conference, and to perform a series of national concerts leading up to the three conferences in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This was the realization of a dream of hers, which began in 1982 when she visited the Hiroshima Peace Museum. She had the honor of being the only American ever asked to participate in that important event in that manner. On August 4th, 1984 Shareen had the humbling experience of singing her original song "Never Again" in the Hiroshima Peace Park before more than 30,000 people. They joined her in shouting throughout the song "Nido to futatabi- Never Again"! As a bonus, she has included that song of peace and empowerment on this CD.
Shareen returned to her home in Ojai, California to find her father diagnosed for the third time with cancer, this time untreatable and unoperable. Shareen decided to cancel her contracts in Japan, and stay home to help care for her father and to provide more stability for her children. Shareen continued to sing for special events, but retired from fulltime professional music and returned to work as a mental health therapist. Her father's death was difficult and traumatic for all, and in November of 1987, Shareen moved herself and her family to Taos, New Mexico. In Taos, Shareen hoped to find emotional healing for herself and her children, and the security and stability of a small town environment. But Shareen still had a promise to fulfill. A deathbed request by her father to write a song about his experience as a Vietnam veteran, his exposure to agent orange, and his subsequent death. It took a few years. The task was a bit overwhelming. But a visit to nearby Angel Fire, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial there, reminded her of a promise unfulfilled.
So in 1988 she wrote the song "Daddy Always Loved To See A Hero". She sang that song for the first time, for veterans and their families, in a special concert that she organized for Memorial Day at the Angel Fire Memorial. The response was tremendous. Veterans approached and began to show her their symptoms and illnesses related to their own Agent Orange exposure. They wanted a copy of the song to take with them, but it was not yet recorded.
In 1990, Shareen recorded the song "Daddy Always Loved to See a Hero". She held onto the recording, hoping to expand it into a full CD. But the time had not yet come. Shareen was invited over the next 10 years on many special occasions to sing at the Angel Fire Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. When they raised the flag for women who served in Vietnam, Shareen was there. When they raised the MIA and POW flags, Shareen was there. When they honored Goldstar Mom's, Shareen was there. Each time, veterans, children of veterans and wives of veterans would approach Shareen, tell them their story and ask her to write a song. Each time she sang, they would ask for a copy, and she would tell them "I really don't have the means to do that right now, but when the time is right I trust I will be able to make them available to you."
In 1998, Shareen and her family moved back to Ojai. If you ask her why?, she will tell you "It just felt right - I was compelled to return". This was the same reason she gave for moving to Taos! Shareen has a strong faith and follows her instincts, knowing the answers to the questions will become clear. Last January, while having dinner with friends, they asked her when she was going to record a CD. She realized that the time had come, and she told them "now".
"TO ANGEL FIRE AND BACK" represents the culmination of 15 years of experiences and relationships with Vietnam Veterans and their families. It begins with the death of her father in California. It takes her to New Mexico and Angel Fire, where it develops and expands. The circle complete, it returns to California, where it all began. To be recorded, produced and offered as a tool for healing and recognition for veterans and their families. It is a labor of love and a promise fulfilled.