This Mississippi gal has been rocking our world as the Co-Director for the Live at the Garden concert series for years now. Since 2000, Sherry Misner has played an integral role in the development of this most-popular and ever-expanding Memphis attraction and we’re thrilled to feature her as one of our FACES of Memphis.
The lovely Botanic Gardens becomes the perfect picturesque venue for Seal this Friday evening. Lawn tickets for Seal are still available via ticketmaster.
Tell us a little about your background and what led you to the Gardens.
I was actually in the travel business for 13 years. When things started changing in the mid 90’s in that industry, I went to work for Beale Street as Director of Marketing and Development. I had a great time there for 5 years and learned a lot about the music, entertainment and attractions business. Then in 2000, I left and became part of a focus group put together by the Memphis Botanic Garden Board to see if the idea of concerts at the Garden might be a profitable venture.
Have you been with Live in the Garden since its inception?
Yes, originally as part of the group that formatted the model for Live, then as Director of Sponsorships in 2001, and in 2003, I became Co-Director of the series. It’s like one of my children.
How have you seen the series grow?
I stood on the stage at the kick-off show for this season in June, the sold-out Chicago concert, and it literally almost took my breath away to see about 7,500 people. We started out on the upper lawn in 2001; our first act was Memphis’ own Isaac Hayes. At that point, we were thrilled to draw approximately 3,000 people per show. We moved to our current location in 2003 and each year, it has been our goal to attract and afford bigger names. Twelve years later, I’m so proud of what Live at the Garden has become. It’s not just a concert, it’s a Memphis event!
Live at the Garden is consistently ranked one of the best attractions in Memphis and it’s only seasonal! Are there any plans to expand the season?
This year, we did expand the season into October with the Bonnie Raitt show. We have had so many people ask if we will ever add more concerts. Right now, with no permanent facility, we will stick to the 5 concerts in the Live series. However, we are working on plans for a permanent amphitheater, and if things go as planned, it will be ready for the 2014 season. That will give us the opportunity to do more concerts, special events and partner with other arts organizations.
How do you select the talent showcased each year?
We start in the fall of each season with our “wish list.” We really try each season to have a good mix of genres of music. From there, we find out who’s touring and who’s not. Then routing comes into play. If we can pick up someone coming or going to Atlanta, Birmingham or Cincinnati, that helps a lot. We’ve learned over the years that people just love the bands or artists who were popular in the 80’s or 90’s that have a ton of hits. People can remember where in their lives when they were when they first heard the songs and can sing every word.
What has been one of your most favorite concerts and why?
That is so hard! It’s like asking someone which child is their favorite! I have several that stand out over the past 12 years though. Michael Buble was an amazing show. We were able to book him before his career exploded. Heart was a personal favorite; I grew up listening to their music so that was pretty cool. And Joe Cocker! He was incredible and having someone on the Live stage that played at Woodstock was pretty awesome.
Which one are you most looking forward to this year?
I honestly love every one this year! I’m so excited to have Seal back this year and I have to admit that I’m still trying to wrap my head around seeing Simon Le Bon and Duran Duran performing on the Live stage!
Do the entertainers get time to enjoy Memphis while they are here? Where do they like to go?
Unfortunately, most of our artists are on tour, so it’s usually in and out on the tour bus. But if they do have some spare time, it’s usually Graceland or St. Jude. But they love Memphis BBQ in the catering tent backstage!
What are some of their odd/diva-like green room requests?
One wanted all white furniture, another only certain color M&Ms’s, another you couldn’t touch, another you couldn’t look directly in the eyes (no, I’m not naming names!). For the most part though, everyone has been really great to work with and very complimentary of Live at the Garden.
You’re a fashionable gal, so what are your recommendations on what to wear to the concerts this summer?
Lightweight fabrics are key and I’m a fool for the patio dress! Dress it up with a great necklace or some killer earrings. And cute flats are a must; you don’t want to wear heels to Live at the Garden! (StyleBlueprint note: What Sherry has on for this photo shoot is perfect for the concert series.)
What are some of your favorite Memphis attractions?
Well, of course I’m partial to the Botanic Garden. Also the Rock and Soul Museum and Sun Studio.
What inspires you?
Strong, graceful women that have a classic sense of style have always been an inspiration to me.
What are your hobbies and how do you unwind?
Obviously, music and concerts. I love most genres of music, but I am a country girl at heart! And the gym, that’s where I can go and turn on my iPod and just check out for about an hour.
What are your favorite vacation spot(s)?
This one is hard. Because I was a travel agent for 13 years, I have been fortunate enough to get to travel all over the world. If I had to pick just a few, I would say southern Italy, Napa Valley and just about anywhere with a beach chair and umbrella will make me happy.
Taco Bell crunch wrap supreme, Bee Gee’s music, Big Bang Theory marathons.
Favorite meal in Memphis?
Sea bass and shrimp risotto at Elfo’s
What one word best describes you?
My Tory Burch silver and gold sandals (they go with everything!) from Joseph’s; Citizen of Humanity skinny jeans from Isabella; a light-weight white shrug from Southern Couture; Brave necklaces from James Davis; and patio dresses from anywhere.
Assuming you ever have a spare moment to read, what books can be found on your bedside table?
I’m not really into fiction. I love anything that is autobiographical or about self-improvement. I have to read People weekly! And there is a stack of beauty and fashion magazines I won’t throw away until I have read every single one of them!
What are three things you can’t live without (excluding friends, family and God):
- My Louis Vuitton purse!
The lovely shots of Sherry today were done by the talented Christen (Jones) Morrison. Check out Christen’s website here: www.christenjones.com