Isaac Sharp has been playing music for as long as he can remember. But there’s one musical memory that sticks out: One of the first opportunities he had to perform in front of an audience was at a rescue mission. It was there, performing for people in the shelter, that Sharp began to understand the power of music.
“[So often, we make] music with the sole purpose of giving people something to dance to and forget about what was going on, to forget about the sorrow,” Sharp says. “That’s been the connecting point for me — [the answer to] why [I make music]. As I’ve gone about writing my record, it’s always been central to me: how can I give people for three minutes, an hour, an evening, a break to take their mind off their struggles.”
Sharp, who grew up in West Virginia and has been living in Nashville for the past five years, works behind the scenes in the music industry at a recording studio. Over the holiday season, he stepped up to the mic — and behind the drums, the bass and the electric guitar — to make more than just music. Sharp recorded and released his single, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," on his website, and listeners were able to purchase the song for any donation amount. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefited the Bridge Ministry’s Bridge to Christmas program, which provides gifts to local children who otherwise might not have any. Sharp announced his plan and in mid-November. One month later, he was under the Jefferson Street Bridge helping other volunteers hand out Christmas gifts to 1,300 children.
Shelia Weathers, volunteer coordinator for the Bridge Ministry, which works to feed the hungry and aid the homeless in Nashville, said that Sharp came to the ministry after being pointed that way by the pastor of his church. “He was given our ministry to ponder from a friend of his, his pastor. His pastor is dear friends with our founder and heard his heart and thought the Bridge was a good fit. We hand out toys every year to the least of these, and he seemed so eager to do something special,” she said.
Sharp wasn’t sure how much money he would be able to raise, but Weathers said he came to the warehouse toting four large bags of toys. “My goal was to get to the point of getting a few hundred bucks to buy presents for about 15 kids,” Sharp said. “It went really, really well. People started donating, and I think at the end, there were about 180 donors. We were able to go to Target a few different times to buy presents.”
Sharp wanted to buy meaningful gifts, so rather than stocking up on inexpensive toys, he bought crafting supplies, sketchbooks and notebooks in which he jotted encouraging notes for the kids. He has plans to extend the giving season into the New Year.
“I had no idea it was going to be as big of a deal as it was. I just really wanted to do something with the song to give back to Nashville,” Sharp said. “I’m going to turn around another song to have something like this happening consistently. I am in the process of looking for other charities to work with, and I’m hoping to find more organizations to connect with.” To find the single, visit iamisaacsharp.com.