Photo: Daniel Prakopcyk
A native Chicagoan, Isaiah Sharkey comes from a musical household and was introduced to music at the age of four. He learned about different musical genres/styles from gospel music, which came from growing up in the church, to jazz, R&B, blues, rock and funk music. It wasn't long after that Isaiah would become noticed by other musicians in the Chicago area for being a young, new talent. Soon after, he started doing concerts in the church as well as sitting in local jazz club jams.
In addition to being named one of the "50 Most Exciting Young Guitarists in the World" by Guitar.com, Isaiah has worked, recorded, and toured with several world-renowned and Grammy award winning artists including John Mayer, Patti Labelle, Christopher Martin of Coldplay, Paul Simon, Corrine Bailey Rae, Mike Posner, Keith Urban, Brian Mcknight, Boyz II Men, Lalah Hathaway, Raphael Saadiq, Chris Dave and the Drumhedz, Regina Bell, Ruben Studdard, Lupe Fiasco, Kelly Price, Faith Evans, Rance Allen, the Winans, The Clark sisters and many others.
PRS: While settling into your current gig as John Mayer’s touring guitarist, did you find that you had to make any significant adjustments to your technique or approach?
IS: Playing with John Mayer made me become that much more detailed in guitar parts in songs. I’ve always been pretty thorough with details, but his music has a lot of intricate parts that make the songs move along. Performing songs live with John and David Ryan Harris requires discipline and using your ears to stay out of the way and in a certain space in the music.
PRS: Growing up in a musical household, who would you say were the most important artists you were exposed to at a young age?
IS: Growing up my most important artists I was exposed to were, George Benson, Wes Montgomery, Keith Jarrett, Jimi Hendrix, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye to name a few.
PRS: What are you listening for when shaping your own guitar tone, whose tone do you admire?
IS: I really admire Spanky Alford, Larry Carlton and so many others. So it’s really more so a collection of everything I love all compiled into one big gumbo.
PRS: At a relatively young age you’ve already amassed quite an impressive resume, what are some of the items left on your musical “bucket list”?
IS: I would love to work with Steely Dan, Toto, Stevie Wonder and quite a few others!!
PRS: Who are you favorite up and coming guitarists on the scene right now?
IS: I love to hear Rob Gueringer and Justus West’s playing.
PRS: You recently released “Love is the Key”, do you see yourself ultimately transitioning into an exclusively solo career in the future?
IS: It would be great to see what it’s like to have an exclusive solo career at some point down the line. I definitely want to share my music with the world. So yes, definitely a goal of mine.
PRS: You have a few PRS guitars and amps in your arsenal.. do you have a favorite go to and why?
IS: My favorite PRS guitars to use are the Silver Sky and the DGT models. I love that the Silver Sky masters the single coil world. It sounds and plays like an old guitar but yet looks very modern. The DGT to me does the same but within the humbucker world. So, they absolutely give me the best of both worlds.