Chris Sharp (born 1973 in Asheville, North Carolina, United States) is an American musician, guitarist, singer, and record producer who participated in the Grammy Award-winning soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou. He is considered to be an accomplished guitarist and has taken a special interest in advancing Lester Flatt’s guitar style. Among other accomplishments, Chris has been nominated twice for a Grammy Award as a guitarist and producer and has won once. Bob Piekiel’s seminal banjo instruction book describes Chris as “the finest bluegrass rhythm guitar player in existence today.” Willie Nelson also considers Chris to be among “the cream of the crop.”
Around age 11, Sharp took up the fiddle and banjo. As a teenager he met George Buckner and joined his band, The Tarheel Bluegrass Boys, and in 1995 moved to Nashville with Buckner and Kevin Sluder. After two years, Sharp returned to North Carolina where he started a band called the Tipton Hill Boys.
With John Hartford
In 1997, Sharp landed a job touring with John Hartford and played guitar in the style of Lester Flatt in the John Hartford Stringband. This gig enabled Chris to play the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium numerous times. Chris played guitar and sang on John’s 1999 album Good Old Boys and John’s final album Hamilton Ironworks which was released in 2001. Chris also produced his first solo record Good Fa’air Side which featured musicians such as Earl Scruggs, Kenny Baker, Josh Graves, and John Hartford. During his time with John, Chris participated on the O Brother Where Art Thou? and Down from the Mountain projects; the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou helped Chris to win a Grammy Award. The Down from the Mountain documentary, which was filmed at the Ryman Auditorium, featured Chris playing guitar and singing. Chris was also part of the subsequent Down from the Mountain tour which played such venues as Radio City Music Hall, Constitution Hall, Universal Amphitheatre, and Carnegie Hall.
In 2001, after Hartford died, Sharp moved back to North Carolina. Chris joined Bobby Hicks, J.D. Crowe, and others to record on Josh Graves’s album Memories of Foggy Mountain. He would later form the Chris Sharp and David Long Band. This group released an album entitled One Hand on the Radio which was described as “something timeless—a record that sounds 50 years old and brand-new at the same time.” 2003 saw the release of the Tipton Hill Boys’ album Lucky whose ensemble (featuring drums, pedal steel guitar, and piano in addition to acoustic string instruments) was characterized in No Depression as reminiscent of “1960s Nashville bluegrass.” Chris played guitar and sang on Willie Nelson’s 2010 album Country Music and was featured on an episode of Soundstage as part of Willie’s band. The ensuing tour allowed Chris to make a return performance at the Ryman Auditorium. Also in 2010, Chris produced and performed on the Grammy-nominated recording Memories of John which reunited the John Hartford Stringband after nearly a decade. This album featured such artists as Tim O’Brien, Bela Fleck, Mike Compton, Alison Brown, Bob Carlin, George Buckner, and Alan O’Bryant as well as John Hartford himself (who was present in the form of previously-unreleased recordings).