By Suzy Kridner
For Hometown News
Sheri McHenry doesn't look, act or sound like a grandmother.
The folk singer is a grandmother of 19, but she has a new album, "Songs from The Basilica," that she has recorded to benefit the preservation fund for the Basilica of St. Paul in Daytona Beach.
"I've been singing all my life," said Ms. McHenry, who also sings alto in St. Paul's Choir.
The New Smyrna Beach resident said she started working on the album last summer and released it in December.
It contains many of her original compositions said the singer/songwriter who is happy to be reviving her musical career.
"I'm so excited to be back in the musical world again after running a business for a couple of decades. I've always loved to sing and write songs and have done a lot of just that over the years," Ms. McHenry said.
She had a business in Ellensburg, Wash., employing 175 people at one time. While on a trip to a trade show she met her husband, Randy McHenry, who was also exhibiting products from his company.
He also sings in the Basilica choir.
Meeting her one day at the Basilica for an interview, Ms. McHenry was working on the music for "The Legend of Myrna the Mermaid from New Smyrna Beach." She wrote it several years ago to commemorate New Smyrna Beach. She was using the keyboard she and her husband, Randy, donated to the Basilica.
Her dream is to include the recording in a children's book she'd like to write about mermaids and have available for sale in area shops.
Ms. McHenry also is involved in the new Hampton Inn on Flagler Avenue in New Smyrna Beach.
"It's our area hotel and won't be a cookie cutter of other hotels," she said.
She selected two pieces of art by Florida artists at the recent IMAGES: The Festival of the Arts that will hang in the Hampton Inn lobby.
At the hotel's opening party, Ms. McHenry was selling her recent compact disc, hoping to raise more funds for the Basilica.
Alice Mikolajewski, a concert pianist and choir director at the Basilica, is featured along with others on "Songs from the Basilica."
One of the songs, "Inspiration," was written by Ms. Mikolajewski, who moved to Florida after 15 years in Washington, D.C. as "I wanted to slow down a little."
"I've worked with Sheri a good two years," she said of her choir member, who also is a cantor at the church.
"Both Randy and Sheri sing in the choir. They've been wonderful, donating their time and their talents to the church. They have a passion to make sure the church is doing well."
She said Mr. McHenry and his wife came to the Basilica because they felt the church needed them.
"We have very good musical experiences," the choir director said. "I work with both of them and try to help improve their singing."
"Sheri made an album with all of proceeds going to restoring our Basilica," Ms. Mikolajewski said. "It covers maintenance of the church and is a very generous offer."
"Sheri took a lot of time to learn all equipment, recorded at home and at St. Paul's using an electronic key board they loaned to St. Paul's," she said. "They also bought an Apple laptop with the programs on it."
Ms. McHenry said she's been singing all her life, "ever since I discovered harmony at the age of eight. I marched into the adult choir and said I sang alto and they let me stay."
She said she also had much appreciated help from many other professionals who volunteered their time or greatly reduced their fees to participate.
"I wanted to share my music, and at the same time, benefit this beautiful iconic edifice which has served many souls for the better part of a century," Ms. McHenry said. "Just like people, lovely buildings require a little more maintenance as they age, but they're worth it."
"Songs from the Basilica" is available at several area churches for $10 each or three for $20 or by calling Ms. McHenry at (386) 402-8159 or e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.