While Shari Bales is a veteran musical performer, having won the talent competition of the Miss Arkansas Pageant twice in the late '90s, her professional singing career is hitting a new gear with the recent signing of her first recording contract.
The Hot Springs native, one of the many acts featured at this year's SouthArk Outdoor Expo on Sept. 14 at the El Dorado Conference Center, brings her Southern rock stylings to independent E-Mic Records. She inked the deal over the summer, the result of what she said was "a longtime goal."
"Signing with the label will facilitate the making of a complete album along with promoting my music career," she said.
She has built a following through playing regional venues and by effective use of social media, with an active Twitter feed, Facebook Page and YouTube Channel to go along with her own website. She's also a familiar voice on Reverb Nation, Twit Music and other music-sharing sites, where she has grown in popularity with country-rock fans. This will be Bales' first show in El Dorado.
Standing out in a crowd is nothing new for Bales, who is one of nine children in her family.
"I have two half siblings who grew up in California and six full siblings who grew up in the same household with me," she said, adding that her house had three bathrooms. "Because of my having grown up in such a large family, I have learned to be quite frugal and highly considerate to those around me. I wouldn't trade my family for the world."
Bales often uses her big voice to take on rock classics like Heart's "Barracuda" and Alannah Myles' "Black Velvet," but says that her musical influences range from Beverly Sills to Reba McEntire—even Frank Sinatra.
"As far as my favorite song of all time, I would be extremely hard-pressed to narrow it down to a single composition," she said. "Both men and women have influenced my musical preferences. I enjoy many types of music and continually find myself 'loving' new songs and rediscovering ones I had forgotten."