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At 65, the power of musician Sheri Nadelman continues to rise

Sheri Nadelman performed with SoulRCoaster St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's 2022 Foodlosophy event.
Sheri Nadelman performed with SoulRCoaster St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's 2022 Foodlosophy event.
Photo by Harry Sayer
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Sheri Nadelman used to call herself “a has-been who never was.”

These days, though, she is singing a different tune.

At 65, Nadelman has become one of the most sought-after acts on the local music scene, regularly being booked into public and private events.

She graces stages at Waterside Place in Lakewood Ranch, Van Wezel’s Friday Fest, or with her band, SoulRcoaster, at venues such as Woody's River Roo on the Manatee River or The Ringling.

Christina Fraser is the former events director at The Ringling and was the first person at the museum to hear Nadelman’s music. 

“She was very proactive and brought some samples," Fraser said. "It was such high-energy, we decided to give her a shot. She became so well-loved that we just always brought her into our scheduling.” 

Sheri Nadelman performs at the Seafood Festival.
Courtesy photo

Her energy has been building a long time.

At 19 years old, Nadelman was offered a record contract, and it appeared she was on her way.

However, the financing fell through and the record was nixed, so Nadelman thought she was done with the music business, and she gave up singing professionally.

Twenty five years passed before she stepped back on stage at an open mic night at JR’s Old Packinghouse Cafe in Sarasota and decided it was time to build the life she wanted. 

“More than anything, my whole life, I just wanted to be a singer from the time I was a little kid, and now, I am,” she said. 

Nadelman lives in East County with her husband, Art, a bassoonist and medical industry executive who has been so supportive of her career that he became a sound engineer.

The couple also shares a love of photography as her Facebook page is riddled with wildlife photos in between performance videos. Also a writer, Sheri Nadelman tries to live her best life immersed in art. 

“I am old enough to know better, and yet too old to remember what it is that I’m old enough to do,” Nadelman said when asked about her age. “I’m 65 and proud of it. I don’t like to say it out loud, but the older I get, the more I’m learning to embrace it.” 

In 2012, Nadelman received a second chance to record an album. It’s the story of her life and aptly titled, “Fate Steps In.” It was recorded at Spirit Ranch Studios in Sarasota. 

Her inspiration

All of the album’s songs are inspired by Nadelman’s life as “Fate Steps In” retells her stories, including one about meeting up with an old neighbor she hadn’t seen since she was a teenager living in Brooklyn. The woman — Anita Reifler — lost her 18-year-old daughter in a car accident, and her marriage didn’t survive the tragedy.

About 20 years after that tragedy, Nadelman had moved to New Jersey from Hawaii with her first husband, an Army doctor. Her husband had come home from work and told her that a doctor in the next office was Anita's new husband.

The two women met at a coffee shop, talked about the earlier tragedy, and cried. They also chatted about Nadelman's late mother, Irene Seigerman, who died when Nadelman was pregnant with her daughter, Ilana Kunis.  

“You’re mama would have been so proud, if she could have seen you now," her former neighbor told her.

"But that was never meant to be, and this is my reality.” Nadelman sings about the meetup in “Fate Steps In.”

Whether performing her own music or covers, the singer is dynamic on stage, vibrant and full of energy. She can be serious, or she can weave through the crowd, making sure everyone is having a good time.

Sheri Nadelman performs at Ringling by the Bay.
Courtesy photo

That is Nadelman’s love for performing shining through, but it’s not a reflection of an easy life. She talks of her life as being "shrouded in loss.” 

That night at JR’s Old Packinghouse Cafe, when she returned to pursuing music as a profession, Nadelman had experienced substantial loss. She was newly divorced, and her brother, Michael Seigerman, had recently died after having gastric bypass surgery.

Her father, Norman Seigerman, died two years before Michael.

“My family never got to see me as the person I hoped to be,” Nadelman said. ”My dad, especially, would’ve flipped out.” 

Fate stepped in again when two years after her divorce, Nadelman went looking for a band and found Art instead. Art helped her build “Sheri and the Vision,” with that band's breakup leading her to a role in 2010 of the Acid Queen in “The Who’s Tommy” at the Players Theater. 

Her future SoulRCoaster band member Tony Rizzo was in the show as well.


A new presence

After starting over, Nadelman’s sense of purpose and new-found confidence developed into an energetic and powerful stage presence. She was born with a gift for music and was playing the guitar by age 12, but the performance side took time. 

Sheri Nadelman in her signature light-up sneakers.
Courtesy photo

“Crazy me, I would play for like five hours for literally no money just to get the experience. I’m very proud of how hard I worked to make it happen,” Nadelman said of her return to the professional music world. “I played at a gourmet hotdog place in Sarasota. I used to take my guitar into biker bars. I’m not that person, but I had no fear because I felt like my guitar was my protection.” 

She didn't have that same confidence as a teenager and needed a friend's encouragements to walk into Marty Lawrence’s studio at 19 years old to audition for that first record contract. Lawrence and his son, Don, were acclaimed vocal coaches, who have worked with stars from Mick Jagger to Lady Gaga. 

“I said, ‘I can’t do this, I cannot do this.’ And (my friend) said, ‘You need to do this,” Nadelman recalled. “I sang for (Lawrence), and he said to me, ‘I think you have something. I’d like to work with you.’ To me, I often compare that to Simon Cowell telling you, ‘You’re going to Hollywood.”   

After that, Nadelman would pass Gloria Gaynor on her way into vocal lessons with Lawrence. They had back-to-back lessons. But there was no social media or “American Idol” in 1977, so Nadelman thought that was it for a professional music career when the record fell through. 

She became content raising her daughter and singing, for fun, for anyone who would listen. She volunteered and threw parties just to sing. She sang to children while working at Ilana’s preschool. Nadelman brags that she can still sing a mean “Wheels on the Bus.” 

Attitudes change over time. The change in Nadelman's can be heard in “One Fell Swoop” when she belts, “I told myself, ‘You’re not too old to be a singer in a rock and roll band.'” 



Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

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