After over a year of creating a safe performance space for musicians in Los Angeles, Sunday Best had its last show on Dec. 18.
Sunday Best, created and hosted by Sharon Groom, was a weekly singer-songwriter showcase on Sunday afternoon that typically featured six or seven rising musicians in the Los Angeles area. During its genesis, Groom’s boyfriend, Bill Buffa, ran sound while friend and fellow musician Connor Hanlon ran the door. The showcase started in July 2021, around the time venues were opening again after COVID-19, and was held at the North End in Hollywood.
“So many people were in need of community, human connection, friendship and a place to play music,” Groom said. “I used to run an open mic at the Universal Bar and Grill (UBG) every Wednesday night… and at the time, one of the bartenders at the UBG was actually the manager at the North End and asked me if I would like to do something on Sunday afternoons. I decided it would be a great idea to have a singer-songwriter showcase for these amazing open mic performers to have a place to perform.”
According to Groom, many artists had their first shows in LA, or even their first show ever, on the Sunday Best stage. Audrey Collins, a musician now based in LA that has helped Sharon run door for the showcase, expressed her appreciation for Sharon when she was new to the city.
“It was so exciting to be invited [to play at Sunday Best]. I was new to LA and eager to perform almost anywhere anyone would have me,” Collins said. “Being a part of the showcases has definitely helped me grow my performance and expand my community. I have met music contacts and my best LA friends along the way.”
Collins first met Groom while performing at the UBG and was later invited to perform at the North End Bar. Similar to Collins, Archer Valentine, a local LA musician, met Groom the same way. Valentine played one of the first Sunday Best shows in July 2021 and he believes that playing in the showcase has helped him “overcome [his] fears” of performing.
“I really enjoyed one of my first shows [at Sunday Best]. I had all of my really close friends come and it was the first time I really started feeling like I could go crazy while performing. I had never really performed before and I was really nervous,” Valentine said. “I remember one show I got through like six songs, and there was one song where people were clapping and shouting and this part of me just unleashed. I was just dancing and going crazy and wild. I had never, ever, felt that way before.”
Sunday Best came to an end because Groom struggled to find a balance between finding time to curate herself as a musician and as an event coordinator. Groom was spending more time on the showcase than her own music career.
“I realized I wasn’t playing out anymore because I was working so hard for everyone else. A lot of the performers didn’t even know I was a singer-songwriter or people would ask me why I wasn’t playing the showcase each week myself. It’s really hard to switch gears from running the show to performing in the show,” Groom said. “I have had time to work on my music and rehearse these past few weeks. I love helping others, but I also need to have time to help myself.”
Although Sunday Best has ended, Groom does not plan to stop hosting and creating showcases. She made another showcase called “Thursday Night Spotlight” on the second Thursday of every month at the North End. This showcase highlights singer-songwriters and has an open mic portion.
Groom created a space for musicians that fostered their growth and a supportive community of musicians and music lovers alike.
“The thing about Sunday Best was that it was just such a loving community. I really think that it was just such a beautiful environment,” Valentine said. “I felt like it was a safe space to go and play. That’s the environment and atmosphere that Sharon provided for us and I will always be grateful for that.”