LOS ANGELES (Top40 Charts/ Capitol Records) - Every once in a while an American Idol contestant touches the hearts of viewers in a very special way. The latest contestant to pull off such a feat was none other than sixty-four year old Sherman Pore. Even though Sherman was thirty-six years over the American Idol age limit twenty-eight, he showed up at the auditions with a petition to be an American Idol contestant. Sherman then told a touching story of losing his "lady love" of twenty years to ovarian cancer.
A year later, Pore has recorded amazing standards CD entitled For My Lady Love, set for release on Z-Entertainment on May 22, 2007. Part of the proceeds from every CD will go to City of Hope's programs in cancer research, treatment and education, Pore has also been named as an ambassador for the organization.
For My Lady Love is a collection of classic love songs, from "You Belong to Me" to "Unforgettable" (the latter made famous by Sherman's own real life American idol, the velvet-voiced Nat King Cole). The CD was recorded in Capitol Records Studio B, once home to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and now completed, the album is not only a weapon in the fight against cancer, but also a solemn promise kept and the ultimate tribute to Sherman's lady love.
"As far back as I can remember, people have been telling me I should do something with my singing," says Sherman Pore, a Los Angeles maintenance mechanic whose successful petition drive to allow him to audition for "American Idol" despite being 36 years past the show's age limit propelled him to national renown. "But there is no way - no way on earth - I could have done it if it weren't for Melissa. She convinced me I was good enough."
Four years earlier, he'd tried to audition for the inaugural season of "American Idol" but had been turned away because of the age limit. Once the show became a phenomenon, people who heard him sing - in line at the post office, at the hardware store, at the local pizza joint - would say, "You should be on 'American Idol.'" The response he got when he informed these folks of the age restriction was always the same: "Well, that's not fair." So he and Melissa hatched the petition scheme. Now, when people said, "You should be on 'American Idol,'" he responded with, "Would you like to put that in writing?" "Our excitement about the petition kept Melissa positive," he says. "I think it made what she was going through a little easier to take." After a crushing, months-long struggle with ovarian cancer, she succumbed two days before Sherman overcame a lifelong drought of self-confidence and headed off to audition for the biggest test of vocal skill ever devised.
"A few months before she died, even before we knew she was seriously ill, Melissa said to me, 'I've never accomplished anything in my life,' which was nonsense, of course," Sherman relates. "But I'll tell you something. My appearance on 'American Idol,' this album, and all the money it will raise for City of Hope to fight cancer - these are all Melissa's accomplishments."
"When Melissa passed, on Aug. 4, 2006, at age 54, Sherman "dumped a couple buckets of tears," finding solace in cards they'd exchanged during their two decades together, which Melissa had saved. One, of a little girl taking the hand of a little boy as if to guide him, bolstered his resolve to go through with the audition.
After six hours in line, nearly 350 signatures were enough to get him to an audition supervisor, who made a one-time exception to let him try out. Needless to say, Paula Abdul was reduced to tears by Sherman's performance, but Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and guest judge Olivia Newton-John were also visibly moved. Cowell went so far as to declare, "You're a class act, Sherman."
After his American Idol performance, Pore appeared on the Larry King show and was approached about making an album which he said he would, in fact, be very interested in doing. This led to a call the next day from Steven Zap, who would become his manager and whose Z Entertainment would become his record label. Says Zap, a marketing executive for Azoffmusic Management: "I was in the hospital with my wife, who was getting ready to give birth to our twins, and she's watching 'American Idol' and crying because she's so moved by Sherman's performance. Then my mother calls crying. It wasn't hard to see the tremendous emotional impact Sherman has on people. I've been working in the music industry for many years and had always wanted to make a record. Once I saw Sherman, I knew I'd found the record I needed to make."
Zap next hired David Hodge, a commercial producer known for his facility with big bands, to produce For My Lady Love. Hodge also crafted new arrangements of the material Sherman had submitted to Zap, a list he and Melissa had compiled as possibilities for Sherman's "AI" audition and which Zap whittled down to 10, including timeless numbers like "The Very Thought of You," "The Way You Look Tonight," "Dream a Little Dream," "When I Fall in Love" and "Someone to Watch Over Me."
Says Sherman with characteristic modesty: "My part in this album has been very small. The credit goes to Steven and David - I just did what I love to do and they were the ones who pulled it all together." He notes that David helped him enormously with tempo and timing in the studio but also reveals, "I had the feeling that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, and in many ways it felt very natural."
Melissa, meanwhile, continues to "pull the strings" as Sherman puts it. "I'm not sure where this journey will lead, but I know Melissa will take me there. She's running the show," he insists. "I'm just going to hang on and ride."