"I kind of pick a song that I relate to," says Sharon Clark, whose voice was heard as one of the five gospel-singing Clark Sisters in the early 1970s. The Alexandria-raised Clark sings jazz standards now and will be at the Park Place Cafe Friday and Saturday with pianist Stef Scagiarri.

"Most of the tunes that I pick, they have something to do with me," Clark explains. "A song like 'April in Paris,' now I've never been to Paris, but I have spent an 'Autumn in New York.' Now 'Good Morning Heartache' -- at one point in my life I could relate to that song and I remember the feelings. I would love to sing 'Caribbean Sun,' but I feel like I have to go to the Caribbean and see it. I do 'Moonlight in Vermont,' and I'm justified in that because I did spend some time in Vermont. I can let my imagination run wild, but that doesn't seem as effective as if I've actually lived through something."

The Fort Hunt High School and Boston's Berklee College of Music graduate says, "I don't listen to too many vocalists," but she concedes that a vocalist profits from observing breathing technique: "You can do that with a horn player, which is a lot better because listening to singers, you could find yourself getting into a trap instead of being creative."