After three years of creative darkness, singer Sheila Spargur has re-lit her torch. With a new career, the chance to host a weekly performance event and the rejuvenation of her band, Spargur is back, burning brighter than ever.
Since moving to Milwaukee from Green Bay in 1986, Spargur has been the sultry-voiced chanteuse of bands such as Fliphouse, The Prevailing Westerlies and most recently, Sunny Gets Blue, a classy four-person collective performing jazz songs from the '40s and '50s.
Deeply inspired by Billie Holiday and Claire Morkin of Milwaukee's John Schneider Orchestra, Spargur became smitten by Depression-era songs in the early '90s, after years of voice lessons and performing in choruses, swing choirs and madrigal groups.
"This music was created to keep people's spirits up, and it works," says the soft spoken, green-eyed soprano. "The music gives feelings of emotion and joy. It's escapism for me."
Spargur was also the host of Poet's Monday and Tuesday's Troubador at the now defunct Café Melange, and is currently the emcee for a new music/poetry/performance open mic, called "Elephant," at the Zodiac Luxury Lounge on Thursday evenings.
With such a lust for the arts, it's hard to believe Spargur retreated from the creative world for a few years, but a bad breakup sent her reeling into another reality.
"I used to use creativity to get through these kinds of things, but for some reason this particular relationship shut it all off," says Spargur, who claims she "hid at Sendik's" for three years, working in the bakery department. During this time, Spargur also attended massage school and now massages at Linear Salon in Bay View.
"All of my creative energy went into school and choosing bakery for the store," she says. "It was healing, just in a different way."
But Spargur couldn't hide from her music and poetry for very long. Eventually, it found her in the form of a phone call from Tom Miller, owner of Beauty Salon and mastermind behind the Beauty Benefit held annually at Turner Hall. Miller asked her to organize poetry readings for his successful art extravaganza and invited Sunny Gets Blue to perform.
"It was perfect timing," says Spargur. "It's what brought us back out."
The exposure landed numerous gigs for the retro quartet, and although she's never performed for the money, Spargur is happy her band is finally receiving recognition.
Sunny Gets Blue features a host of acclaimed Milwaukee musicians -- including Salt Creek's Guy Fiorentini and Paul Jonas and Matt Liban of Hudson -- but Spargur is clearly the focal point, not only because of her easy-on-the-ears voice and sexy attire, but because she defuses an air of joy mixed with sadness that's as sweet smelling as the flower tucked behind her ear.
"Yes, there's a lot of struggle in my background, but I've enjoyed it, and now things are happening ... naturally," she says.
Sunny Gets Blue will perform at a post-Gallery Night party at Turner Hall on Fri., July 25 and at the Zodiac Luxury Lounge on Fri., Aug. 1.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.