If you’re in a Columbus band, there’s a good chance you’ve already played alongside Sharon Udoh of Counterfeit Madison.
The serial collaborator, who moved here from Cincinnati in 2009, currently lends her vocal and keyboard talents to no less than five local groups, including The DewDroppers and The Apes, among others. It’s an impressive number, but still a drop-off from her time in The Queen City, where she moonlighted in 14 different bands.
While Udoh has undoubtedly embraced her role as a go-to musical accomplice, she was initially hesitant to step forward as a solo artist, saying, “I was frightened of attention of any kind, and I used being in a band as an excuse to be able to step behind somebody else and let them take charge. I didn’t want to be seen.”
This might surprise anyone who has witnessed Udoh in any of her countless musical guises. Onstage, the performer remains both a fearless and magnetic presence, prone to physical and vocal outbursts that could pass for cut scenes from a documentary on demonic possession.
“[The DewDroppers] played the last This Is My Suitcase show [at Strongwater in December] and I had one of those episodes,” said Udoh, 32. “I remember diving into the audience, and at the end I was facing the stage and had no idea how I got there. A few people were like, ‘I was really worried for you. You looked like you were experiencing some kind of exorcism.’”
With Counterfeit Madison, the musician exorcises demons of another sort. The songs, which encompass emotions as divergent as heartache, joy and regret, are intensely personal, coming on like open letters to friends, lovers, family and even God.
“The last two years of my life have been very challenging, and the reason I’m not a 32-year-old woman in a straightjacket is because I play music,” Udoh said. “I spent a long time in a church that made me uncomfortable in my own body, and I just feel like I’m a little more comfortable now. It’s nice to finally be able to be OK with who I am as a musician and as an artist and as a person.”