Max Sharam

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Max Sharam
Birth name Leanna Maree Sharam
Also known as Max
Born 1969 (age 47–48)
Benalla, Victoria, Australia
Genres Chamber Pop
Occupation(s) artist, singer, songwriter, musician
Instruments voice, electronic organ, guitar
Years active 1990–present
Labels Warner
Associated acts Minx, Fleshworld
Notable instruments
pipe organ, guitar

Max Sharam (born Leanna Maree Sharam, 1969 in Benalla, Victoria) is an Australian interdisciplinary artist and singer-songwriter. In the mid-1990s, Sharam had three top 40 hit singles, "Coma", "Be Firm" and "Lay Down", from her top 10 album, A Million Year Girl (1995). She received eight nominations at the ARIA Music Awards of 1995 and won "Best Cover Art" with Dominic O'Brien for the album.


Leanna Maree "Max" Sharam was born in Benalla, Australia in 1969. She grew up near Beaufort about 160 km west of Melbourne and studied classical singing and the electronic organ from an early age and was one of the four girl sopranos in pink frocks singing in The Sounds of Sunday Massed Choir in Ballarat Uniting Church, conducted by Musical Director W. H. Keith Young (M.B.E), which was recorded and televised weekly for BTV Channel 6. Following her graduation from arts college, with a major in Behavioural Science, she spent several years travelling around Europe where she initially made a living from busking. Sharam while based in Rome, Italy was part of a bohemian community of artists that included Kurt Wenner known for his groundbreaking street art.[1][2] Whilst performing in Florence, Italy, Carlo Picone RAI news journalist and producer invited her to audition for Forza Venite Gente, a popular Italian rock opera, starring Oreste Lionello, for which she landed a lead role.[1] The musical toured across Europe for two years.[1] Other Italian Theatre productions engaged her, including Kolbe directed by Polish film director – Krzysztof Zanussi and Tadeaus Bradecki. She received the Star of the Year award at Genoa's Cole Porter Festival, recorded and released a dance extended play, "I'm Occupied". Her story was documented in an Italian television program, La Ragazza con la Chitarra ("Girl with the Guitar"),[1] shown on RAI TV. Sharam then spent a year in Japan studying Taiko drums[2] and fronting a Japanese band Climax in Hiroshima before returning to Australia where she worked as a stand-up comedian – performing regularly on the Sydney Comedy Circuit with the likes of Adam Hills, Kitty Flanagan, Paul Livingstone (Flacco), Wil Anderson, Mark Trevorrow (Bob Downe), Vince Sorrenti and Judith Lucy.

In 1992, Sharam performed her self-penned song "Coma" on the television talent show New Faces, reaching the finals and attracting the attention of a number of record companies:[3]

I did the TV spot to make a statement, because I thought it was fucking mad – all this mediocre stuff that goes on all over television. I thought, why doesn't anybody get up and represent my generation – that side of Australia that's so readily ignored? That compelled me to get on New Faces. All the phones started ringing after that. I was very lucky.[3]

She sang with a number of small-time Sydney bands including Minx and Fleshworld, as well as performing regular sell-out solo acoustic gigs at Kinselas nightclub in Darlinghurst during 1993 – under the banner of Max Sharam: The Sounds of Sirens.[1]

Sharam subsequently secured a recording contract with Warner Music Australia in 1994, which issued her debut EP, "Coma", in October[4] – produced by Daniel Denholm and Nick Mainsbridge – with the song peaking at No. 14 on the ARIA Singles Chart during February 1995.[5] and was voted the eighth most popular song on radio station, Triple J's Hottest 100 of 1994.[6] Her debut album, A Million Year Girl, was released in 1995 and achieved gold accreditation[7] and reached No. 9 in the ARIA Albums Chart.[5]

At the ARIA Music Awards of 1995 Sharam was nominated in eight categories, losing to Tina Arena and Silverchair, but winning "Best Cover Artwork" for the album with Dominic O'Brien.[8] It provided two more Top 40 singles, "Be Firm" (No. 25 in June) and "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)" (a cover of Melanie Safka's song, which reached No. 36 in November).[5] Her fourth single, "Is It OK If I Call You Mine?", a cover written by Paul McCrane for the film Fame, was released in February 1996 but peaked outside the top 100.[9] After several subsequent sell-out national tours, Sharam disappeared from the Australian mainstream music scene moving to Los Angeles for several years then settling in Manhattan, New York.

Sharam re-appeared in Channel 9's TV documentary Dream Factory, shot in Los Angeles. In 2000 she wrote and staged her first one-woman show, MadmoselleMax, for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. In January 2005, she performed "Butterfly Suicide" at the Hong Kong Fringe Festival. The one-woman P'Opera (a "Virtual Variety/Multi Media Musical") featured the misadventures of "ill Soprano", a highly-strung opera diva who takes to the streets at night singing.

Sharam performed and produced the music for 2006 AFI award winning documentary Forbidden Lie$ and in 2007 wrote, performed and produced the closing credit song for Expired, a movie starring Samantha Morton, Jason Patric, Ileana Douglas and Teri Garr. In 2008 Sharam joined the Video Art selection panel of New York Foundation for the Arts – a not-for-profit arts organisation.

In February 2009, she returned to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with her show Songs and Stories from My Suitcase.[10] and followed it up with another more experimental production ″Bushpygmalian″ which featured Max's animated artworks in a semi-autobiographical tale. In 2011 Max was named as a finalist in the APRA Professional Development Awards[11] and in 2013 The Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition.[12] Sharam also created the music and sound design for the play Anaconda, which won 'Best Original Play' at Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2012.

In 2012, Sharam launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise funds to record a new body of work with Grammy Award-winning producer Malcolm Burn. The new recording, "a concept album of songs thematically linked – stories of young girls/women crashing through the safety net of society",[citation needed] is scheduled for an independent release in 2014 with a sampler EP, Hysteria (The Gods Envy), released on 29 August 2013 to coincide with her support role on Cyndi Lauper's 'She's So Unusual' Anniversary Tour.

In 2016 Sharam was the recipient of the Ballhausen Pipe Organ Scholarship and commenced work on original compositions for Pipe Organ. She was also selected to participate in a Memoir Writing Mentorship Program through City of Melbourne Library and performed her written word work at the Melbourne Writers Festival. In addition she was invited to join the panel of Creative Victoria in the area of Music Theatre and Performance.

In June, 2017 Max's performance art will be part of a large exhibit in Fabrik der Künste in Hamburg, Germany.



  • I'm Occupied – Notte Antica (1984) released under the artist name, Mex
  • Coma – Warner Australia (1994)
  • The Gods Envy – Purple Flower Music Australia (2014)

Studio albums[edit]


Year Title Peak chart positions Album
Hottest 100
1994 "Coma" 14 8 'Non-album EP'
1995 "Be Firm" 25 A Million Year Girl
"Lay Down" 36
1996 "Is It OK If I Call You Mine?" 108
2013 "Hysteria (The Gods Envy)" 'Non-album EP'
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that country.


  1. ^ a b c d e McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'Max Sharam'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 30 September 2004. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Zuel, Bernard (18 June 2006). "How Max got her sparkle back". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Horan, Anthony (June 1994). "An Aquatic Interview with Max Sharam". Retrieved 4 February 2009. 
  4. ^ "New Release Summary – Product Available from: 24/10/94 (from The ARIA Report Issue No. 245)". Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Discography Max Sharam". Australian Charts Portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  6. ^ "Hottest 100 – 1994". Triple J. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. 
  8. ^ "ARIA Awards – Max Sharam". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 3 February 2009. 
  9. ^ a b "Is It OK If I Call You Mine?" Australian (ARIA) singles chart peak: "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received 15 July 2015". Retrieved 28 August 2015. 
  10. ^ Mangan, John (25 January 2009). "The Art of a Cheap Night Out". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 23 September 2011. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  11. ^ "2011 APRA Professional Development Awards: Film & TV Finalists". APRA/AMCOS. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  12. ^ "Finalists Announce For Vanda And Young Songwriting Competition". Street Press Australia Pty Ltd. 6 August 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 

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