This week the Southern Gospel Picnic kicks-off at Silver Dollar City on Thursday, Aug. 25, with 11 days and nights of concerts featuring performers from across the country.
One of the handful of performers helping to usher in the 2022 Southern Gospel Picnic this season is Inspiration Singer, Speaker and Author Sherry Anne, who was born with a bilateral hearing and speech impairment. Sherry Anne will be singing and sharing her unique journey with audiences on Thursday, inside the Riverfront Playhouse.
“You wouldn’t necessarily think that a person who had to overcome those challenges would then pursue speaking and singing. I was 5-years old before it was actually detected that I have hearing loss,” Sherry Anne said. “I went off to school and basically they thought that I was just a problem child because I wasn’t paying attention in class. I wasn’t following instructions and I went on to face a lot of disciplinary action. I was even bullied and picked on, because I spoke differently and talked differently, so my self-esteem plummeted very early on at just 5-years of age.”
Luckily for Sherry Anne, the school nurse was conducting physicals that year, which led to the discovery of her impaired hearing.
“I wasn’t a problem child, I was a child with a problem, which is a big difference. Thankfully it was determined that the cause of my misbehavior was because I couldn’t hear the teacher to follow instructions,” Sherry Anne said. “Once that was discovered they gave me my first hearing aid and my grades began to improve quite a bit, so then they gave me a second hearing aid and my grades just catapulted and really began to take off.”
Once she was equipped with both hearing aids, Sherry Anne said she went from underachieving to overachieving at everything she could.
“I wanted to overcompensate for that disability or challenge or difficulty. So, for the next 12 years of my academic career I got involved in everything I could get involved in. I got involved in sports, music, drama, acting and I was very, very successful. I ended up graduating high school a year early,” Sherry Anne said. “I was accelerated, I had top honors and then I had a four year scholarship to college. Then from there I went on to get my doctorate degree, because I was on a roll at this point.”
After she received her doctorate degree and had accomplished so much by the age of 24, Sherry Anne shared everything changed for her.
“By the age of 25 I actually got to a point where I wanted to throw the towel in and actually wanted to end it all, because of the fact that I was driving myself so much to prove and to overcome and to overcompensate that…I drove myself right into a nervous breakdown, but I will say that it was a perfection overdose,” Sherry Anne said. “It was just trying to do so much and prove a point to so many people that I could do this. No matter how much I did, it just didn’t feel like it was enough.”
Sherry Anne explained it was when she reached the lowest point in her life and had burned out trying to please everyone, she experienced a revelation.
“I just had this epiphany in my life of this vision of Christ who I believe revealed to me that I am enough in him, he loves me and he has a plan for me and that his life was given to give me life. He paid a price with his life for my life, so that I could live and have a purpose and have hope and that I could go on and face another day. That really helped to change the trajectory of my life. Instead of trying to please everyone else, from that point on I realized that if God is pleased with me and God is happy with me and God loves me and God chose me and God died for me and paid the price for my sins and my imperfections,” Sherry Anne said. “At that moment, it was no longer about me and what I could do, it was more about what can I do for people and to help to bless other people to show them God’s love, to show them God’s forgiveness, to show them God’s grace, because that’s what he showed me.”
With a doctorate degree in chiropractic healthcare and medicine, Sherry Anne shared the journey she took from her health practice to where she is today.
“My first choice was singing. My mom was a single mom at this time, so she didn’t think that a hearing and speech impaired girl could make a living as a speaker and a singer, so she said I had to get a real job,” Sherry Anne said. “It wasn’t my first love, but because of that degree, I met a lot of people in the gospel industry. Namely I met a lot of the Gaithers and the Gaither Homecoming family. They were just thrilled to meet a chiropractor. With all that time traveling not he road, a lot of them liked chiropractors and they would say, ‘Oh would you work on me?,”
As payment for providing her chiropractic care to the folks in the music industry, Sherry Anne would ask them to pay her with their CD’s.
“I have this wonderful music collection and after a couple of years, I decided to take my love of music, with all of the music I’ve since learned from their collection and make my first CD. I made my very first CD at Gaither Studios in Indiana. I’ve had eight projects that have come out since that time,” Sherry Anne said. “I had continued to put out this music while working as a chiropractor and then three years ago, I completely retired from my practice. I felt called and led by God to retire from my practice and do this exclusively full time.”
As for her performance at Silver Dollar City, Sherry Anne’s performance on Thursday will mark her debut at the theme park. Sherry Anne will be performing at 11:15 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.
“I’ll have three shows of 30 minutes each where I’ll be singing…a blend of classic and contemporary and traditional. I grew up with so many musical influences. My parents were both ballroom dance teachers when I was a young girl,” Sherry Anne said. “I grew up with a lot of different music influences, even though it is a gospel themed message, you may hear a lot of influences. I’ll share a bit of my story of what it was like growing up being hearing impaired and overcoming those challenges and what it was like to be bullied.”
Following her performances at SDC, Sherry Anne will also be performing at churches in both Springfield and Calico Rock, Arkansas. She’ll also be performing for a taping on The Place with Emmy Award-Winning Host Michael Gibson.
“I have a little bit of something for everybody,” Sherry Anne said. “I hope that families will come, children will come, anybody facing any challenge or obstacle will come and hear an encouraging, uplifting message."
Other performers joining Sherry Anne on Thursday for the opening day of the Southern Gospel Picnic at SDC include Day 4, Dixie Melody Boys, Farm Road 1100, Master’s Trio, and The Hyssongs. The Southern Gospel Nights Concert at the Echo Hollow Amphitheater will feature Ernie Haase & Signature Sound.
For the full line-up of performers coming to SDC and other activities planned for the Southern Gospel Picnic, visit silverdollarcity.com.
To learn more about Sherry Anne and her story, visit sherryanne.com.