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With the release of her first CD, Sharòn Clark has come a long way since her teenage years, when she crooned Diana Ross songs with her twin sister. The pair performed all over the D.C. area until 1984, when Clark snagged her first solo gig at Kate’s, a now-defunct Alexandria jazz joint. She was too bashful to address the crowd, except in song. A friend, Steph Scargiarri, led her to the stage. “I didn’t even talk for myself,” Clark recalls. “Steph did all the talking. I did my thing and said thank you.”

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Since then, Clark has made solo stops all along the local jazz circuit, commanding stages at Blues Alley, Takoma Station, and Twins. But Clark never recorded an album until this year. “The last 15 years have been a spiritually growing period for me,” says Clark, now 35. “My steps are led by God. I wanted to do a CD before, but I wasn’t ready. But now I’ve matured in my spirit.” Union Records released 1,000 copies of the CD, aptly titled Finally, which is available at Tower Records.

Recording the album was an adjustment for someone used to working responsive nightclub crowds. “I was so nervous in the studio, because I’m not used to microphones hanging in my face,” Clark says. She and her band ended up doing a live studio album, consisting mostly of standards such as “Send in the Clowns,” “Girl Talk,” and “Lullaby of Birdland.” The singer says the majority of her next CD will be original material.

Clark was raised on jazz by her father, who forced her to listen to the music on long car rides. And she refuses to sing anything else. “I am a specialist in jazz,” Clark asserts. “If you have heart problems, who are you going to see? A cardiologist. If you want jazz, call me.”—Natalie Hopkinson

Clark plays Blues Alley Wednesday, Nov. 12.