News Column

Brownsville singer, who led remarkable life, dies in vehicle accident

May 30, 2014

By Monica Vaughan, Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.

May 30--Music was her lifeblood, and love was her beat.

Family and friends are mourning the loss of professional country and blues singer Sharonmarie Fisher-Laughrey, who died Saturday in a single-vehicle collision near her Brownsville home.

In her 63 years, she sang at the Grand Ole Opry, taught students and rock musicians, wrote and recorded many songs and shared the stage with hundreds, including Bonnie Raitt. She's won awards, including from the California Country Music Association, and most recently, the Legendary Female Rock and Soul Vocalist Award at the Yuba Sutter Butte's Music Award Ceremony. But, she was also known as a strong, inspiring and vibrant woman.

"I want to say (she was) larger than life. But she wasn't. Nothing is," said her son, Phil Maldonado, from her home on Wednesday.

Fisher was on her way home to get dressed for a performance at the Dobbins Farmers Market when her Jeep Cherokee steered off Frenchtown Road south of Dry Creek Bridge as she was rounding a curve. The vehicle went off the east shoulder, collided with two trees and came to a rest on the roof, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Dan Yeager. She was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Although she was born in the Bay Area and lived for many years in Moorpark, she lived in Brownsville for the last three years, and "the (Yuba) foothills were her stomping grounds," Maldonado said. "She was in touch with the woods, the nature, the people. She loved the aspect of non-city life."

In the 1970s, she sang with the local Top-40 band Jezzebel Cain in a Marysville bar, according to Appeal-Democrat archives. And more recently, she's played at Feather Falls Casino and the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds.

Inspiring life

When it comes to the music industry, she has been there and done that, according to Maldonado. But, Fisher's passion was more than music. She expressed a desire to inspire and help others who faced the trials and tribulations of life she had come to know.

She used her voice over the last few decades to raise money and awareness for HIV and AIDS. Fisher was diagnosed with HIV in the mid-1980s and came close to death in the advanced stage of AIDS before having a miraculous recovery due to a combination of lifestyle changes and a new drug cocktail. Over the last few decades, her bones became frail and she had a lot of ailments.

When she thought she was nearing the end of her life in 1992, she wrote a song, "Take Me To The Mountain." Maldonado said when he first heard the song, he felt apathy and rage, and honor and disgust, all at the same time.

"You get Sharonmarie 100 percent, whether you like it or not," he said.

She played many benefit concerts, including to raise funds for the Williams fire relief in 1998, and spent much of her time doing benefit performances to raise funds for children with AIDS. She worked to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS through the American Red Cross.

Just a few weeks before her death, Fisher wrote, "God is good. I never thought I would see this day 29 years ago after being diagnosed with HIV. To use my music to educate the uneducated and to share the love is my purpose in life."

"Things that were important to her were love, life and happiness. Music was what she did. It was her busy," Maldonado said. "Her drive for music wasn't always the same. Her drive for happiness and love was always constant and that was her."

"She's gone, but she will most likely not be forgotten for some time," said Maldonado. "She touched a lot of hearts and people are paying their respects in droves."

Maldonado said he is arranging a Northern California memorial for his mother in July.


(c)2014 the Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, Calif.)

Visit the Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, Calif.) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters