Published: 2:26 pm, Sun. Apr. 22nd, 2018Updated: 2:14 pm
Sweeten’s journey in the performing arts began at the age of 6 in both music and ballet in Westfield, N.J. She received a Hammond organ for Christmas that year after showing interest in keyboards and was soon to master it – though the first year, she had to stand to reach the pedals.
For her ninth Christmas, Sweeten received a Baldwin piano and soon began intensive study with Russian-born concert pianist David Sokoloff. Under his tutelage, she learned to play the music of the great masters. She sites Sokoloff as her greatest mentor, whose influence in developing her technique and encouraging her musicality was paramount.
During these years, Sweeten was also dancing classic ballets such as “Swan Lake,” “Les Sylphides” and “Sleeping Beauty” with a regional ballet company in New Jersey. A Dean’s List scholar throughout academia, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in foreign language from Smith College, graduating Cum Laude, and continued study in Paris and, later, the Boston Conservatory.
Sweeten did a brief two-year stint as female vocalist and lyricist for pop/rock band FALLOUT before appearing on cruise ships and in cabaret clubs and resorts, playing and singing a wide range of material including jazz, pop, folk, new age and Broadway music.
Sweeten began composing around 1989 in the midst of her musical theatre career, starring in such roles as Aldonza (“Man of La Mancha”), Sister Amnesia (“Nunsense”), Miss Mona (“Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”) and Velma Kelly (“Chicago”). When she started introducing her own original material to her setlists, the response was overwhelming.
In 1997, Sweeten released her debut album, “Prism.” By her third album, “Reflections” (2000), her music was selling weekly on listening stations at major record chains by the hundreds. Fans began to write in depth of the effect of Sweeten’s music on their lives, speaking of the music as hopeful, giving them the power of healing or a way of finding peace.
“The fact that my music touches people so strongly is the greatest reward I receive from my music, and I have been moved to tears by the personal stories people have shared with me,” Sweeten says.
Having written more than 100 musical scores to date, Sweeten is also author of all of her albums’ liner notes and a poet in her own right. In 2008, Steinway and Sons welcomed Sweeten into its prestigious international roster of Steinway Artists, touting her a true Renaissance woman.
Tickets to her Tuesday performance are $20 each and may be purchased online at www.artesiaartscouncil.com or by calling the OPAC box office at 746-4212.