Sarah Sharp - Performing at Borders North; Austin, Texas; May 15, 2004

Sarah Sharp

- On The Cusp Of Stardom! -

by

Paul Johnston

News Story

Sarah Sharp, an enchantingly beautiful lady with a million dollar voice, is poised on brink of a fabulous singing career!  Sarah has prepared her whole life for this moment of truth.  Her dues have been paid by hard work, dedication to the rigors of ballet training at an early age, earning a music degree in only three years from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, performing the live jazz and blues scene in London for two years and now has produced her second album of dynamite music, Fourth Person.

 

Her time is now!  Sarah is not waiting to be discovered.  She is front and center.  She knows the business of music.  She is out on the streets of life knocking on the doors of opportunity.  Some lucky big time record company or music agent is going find a gold mine of talent that sparkles like diamonds when they open their eyes to Sarahís dynamic voice.  It just a matter of time, a very short time!



Your Goal Today

 

Since you have been so gracious to grant us time to visit with you, tell us some your main thoughts that you want your fans to know about you today and for the near future.  In your own words ďPitch yourselfĒ to your audience.

 

Okay, I think, I just want people to know about me (she chuckles) that I exist and that my music exits.  I think I have been working at this for many years.  It is always the beginning of the next thing.  Now, this beginning is the fact I have my first full length album and I am starting to tour more and I am trying to get this album picked up by a record label and get it distributed and reach a larger audience than I ever have.

 

You have the talent and the drive, what else would hold you back?

 

I donít know either!  [Iíll just] keep plugging away!

 

Chronological Timeline

 

Just before we start with the present, the following questions will give us a broad chronological timeline of your life.

 

Where were you born? 

 

Houston, Texas

 

Will you tell us your birthday?

 

January 26, 1976

 

Did you spend most of your life growing up in Houston?

 

Yeah, I spent the first 18 years in Houston.  I have not lived there since.

 

What year did you go to Venezuela and why?

 

That was in high school in í93.  It was for a summer.  I was an exchange student with AFS.  It was just an adventure.  I went there and studied Spanish, lived with a family.  It was great! 

 

Besides learning Spanish, what other things did you learn while you were there?

 

It was such a culture shock when my familyÖthey were very sweet but there were so many things that were really different.  It was hard to get used to some of the brutal honesty of the people of Venezuela like they might see you and say, ďWow!  Youíve really gotten fat!Ē  One of the first things they said when they met me was, ďOh, good!  Weíre so glad we got a pretty one!Ē  Then my host brother said, ďbut you know in your picture you didnít have any acne.Ē  Not like it was bad.

 

I was kind of a typical American, I mean, I was seventeen years oldÖthey drink a lot of Polar beer and I could not hold my beerÖjust kind of naïve in a lot of ways.  It was amazing!  I have always been pretty independent.  

 

 

How long did you stay there?

 

Three months

 

What year did you graduate high school?

 

 In 1994, Lamar High School in Houston.

 

 

What year did you go to Berklee College of Music?

 

In í94, in the Fall.  I went straight through college.

 

 

What year did you graduate from Berklee?  Your major?  Degree, diploma or certificate?

 

In í97.  I did it in three years.  I got a full-blown Bachelors Degree.  Professional music [was my major].  Professional music was the general degree for ÖI really just wanted to be a performer but I wanted rather than a performance degree, I wanted a more rounded professional music degree.  I had a lot of freedom to take a lot of performance classes but I also had to take business, music business, and a lot of career-oriented classes. 

 

 

Berklee is a very prestigious music school.  What is it like to go to school there?

 

Well, coming from Texas, it was a shock!  It was a shock for a couple of reasons.  The first one being I was like the star of the choir and the president of my choir and I was the top in high school music and then I get there I was such a small, small fish in that big pond.  I was a late bloomer.  I was early-on sort of a natural talent.  I didnít really study an instrument.  I didnít read music.  I didnít really have my own record collection.  I listened to whatever my sister had.  When I got there I felt so behind.  I felt so uneducated compared to everyone else Ďcause they would be talking about ĎOh yea, Dizzy GillespieÖBilly Holiday.í  I remember thinking, ďBilly Holiday, whoís he?Ē

 

I would write these names down and go to the library.  They have this music library which I can only imagine how big it is now but at the time it had over 10,000 CDs.  You could search in the database for either an artist or a song and so I would just sit there and study and listen and catch up, figure out who these people are talking about.  Give myself little reminders who was who.

 

Berklee was great.  They would start youÖit was okay for me to show up there with natural talent and not a lot else because they do placement exams.  I was in Ear Training 4 Ďcause I had a great ear but I was in Harmony 1 which is like the theory.  Learning how to tell the difference between what makes something blues, what makes something jazz, what makes it funk.  I didnít know any of that.  I wouldnít have been able to tell youÖ define a style.  It was like a crash course in a whole lot of information that caught me up to speed in a big way, like (she chuckles) being a real musician.

 

So, when you first set foot on campus for the first couple of weeks, it felt very intimidating?

 

Well, it was intimidating because I had never been to Boston.  I didnít get to visit the school before I went.  I had never been anywhere near Boston.  I mean like South Carolina was the nearest I Ďd ever been to anything on the east coast.  I literally showed up the day I had to be there to check into the dorm.  It was cold!  It was September.  Early September is already cold.  That was hard!  Come March it was like, ďOh goody its SpringĒ, then itís May and itís still snowing. 

 

When it really got wintertime there, how did you react to the long cold winter?

 

I was really disillusioned.  I couldnít believeÖI remember the first time the streets had iced over and I was trying to walk to class on ice and just bitching about it.  Why would human being choose to settle here?  I was in complete shock!  We adapt, but it was a complete shock.

 

After Berklee, tell us about the vocal competition you won that provide you money for a trip to London?

 

Even though I had all that time at Berklee and I would perform at school, Iíd still never sung in a club or been in a band.  They have this sort of open mike local competition, course I got everyone I knewÖI went to Houston to drop off all my stuff.  I knew I was going to London and I wasnít sure how.  I found out about this competition.  I got everyone I knew in Houston to come.  It is such a running theme with the years Iíve spent trying to be successful.  There is a good chance that I won just because I had the most people show up to cheer for me. 

 

You were very smart and talented!

 

At that point I could sing.  Iím sure I sounded okay.  That was the beginning experience of, okay, I have to sell beer to be successful.  You know, to make these steps.  They cheered the loudest.  I won.  I think I got $500.00.  I bought a one-way ticket.

 

What month/year was that you won the singing contest?

 

I guess it was in September í97. 

 

 

How did you come to the decision to go to London?

 

In my last semester at Berklee, I only had like six credits to take and it was in the summer. So I decided from the music business classes Iíd taken;  they were really drilling it into us that the songwriting was where the money was.  I hadnít written anything yet.  All I knew is I wanted to be a singer.  I decide in my last semester I ought to take a song-writing course.  I started to accept the inevitable that I was going to have to write. 

 

My songwriting teacher took an interest in me and he asked me to come to his office during his office hour. He asked me a lot of questions.  He said, ďI think you should consider majoring in song writing.Ē  I had six credits left.  I was six weeks away from graduation.  I was 21.  The average age a Berklee is a lot older.  Lot of people are a lot older. 

 

He took an interest.  ďOh my gosh!  What are you going to do? Whatís youíre plan?  How are you going to develop your craft?Ē  I said, ďWell, I donít know.  I donít have any money.  Iím going to have to get a good job right away.  Iím probably going to have to move back to Houston.  I donít know.  Iím thinking I might have to sell insurance.  A lot of my people in my family sell insurance.  I hope to get in a band and start song writing.  He was like, ďOkay, well listen, I think you should come here once a week and you can bring me examples of stuff but you donít have to.  Donít feel pressured to have something to show me.  I just want you to check in with me once a week.  I want you to tell me what your plan is.  Talk about what you are going to do six weeks from now when you graduate.Ē

 

So, I went there every week.   My plans started to change.  First it was I was going to Honduras.  My dad has this house on a remote island in the Caribbean.  I want to go by myself.  Iím going to take a guitar.  I am going to force myself to learn guitar because Iím not going to have anything else to do.  My teacher was like, ďokayÖĒ.  At some point I went in there and said my aunt who lives in England has offered to fly me to visit her for a graduation gift.  I might end up going to France because sheís got a house in Paris, a house in the French Alps.  Iím not going to stay for too long because I need to get back and get to work.

 

He said,  ďYou know, you should stay in Europe as long as you canĒ I was like, ďNo, I look at people who take their trip to Europe like when they need to find themselves.  I donít need to find myself.  I need to get to work. I need the money.Ē  He just begged me.  He implored me, ď Sarah, you have an aunt in England that you can stay with and she has houses all over the place, and youíre in hurry to get back to Houston to sell insurance?Ē  Heís like, ďGo to Europe!  Theyíre going to love you.  Youíre blonde.  Youíre from Texas.  Where do you think most of your teachers are this summer?  Theyíre making their money.  This is when they make their money at festivals in Europe.Ē  He was impassioned!   ďToday the National Endowment for the Arts is debating whether to completely get rid of itself or to spend x number of dollars getting rid of itself slowly over the next number of years.  Our priorities in this country for the arts are not nearly in your favor if you will just go to Europe and stay as long as you can and sing.Ē

 

That night I called my dad.  Iím moving to London.  I remember he got kind of choked up Ďcause he knew I was not kidding.  At that point I had made up my mind.  I made my declaration.  I had a plan.  Had no idea that I would not be allowed to just go to London and workÖ that as an American you donít just have your right to go live and work wherever you want but I had already made up my mind.  I donít know why?  That was it.  It was this sense of, ĎWell, gosh, I have this really valuable degree and I still havenít even really even sung in a club or been in a band.  Iím going to have to do this thing.  Iím going to have to go become a singer.Ē  The idea of doing it far away, like in London, where nobody could watchÖ where I had this sort of evolving image of myself that I wanted to becomeÖ and looking back on it there were a lot of factors that like if I had been in HoustonÖwhereas in London there was no one saying ĎWell, thatís not you.  This isnít you.  This isnít what you are capable of or this isnít what you do.í  I kind of went there where no one was watching and no one was telling me I couldnít do it and just became this idea of myself that I had.

 

 

Once in London, how did you get started singing jazz and blues?

 

My aunt was bit of a safety net but she was probably 70 miles and an hour and a half journey, costs about forty bucks from London.  It was not like I could live with her.  As soon as I got to England, I spent a little time just hanging out with her.  I made one trip into London to meet a friend of hers who owned a recording studio.  He introduced me to another friend who was a film editor and he needed an assistant.  I lined up a job for cash, for very little cash.  I had no work permit, so he could get away with it.  I was an assistant to a man on an animated film.  It wasnít digital.  It was like cutting film on this big huge old machine.  They were intentionally doing it in a traditional way.  I was cutting and taping film together. 

 

The first day I showed up to do this job, I asked a guy on a coffee break for directions to an audition I had found in the paper.  He told me it was a rough part of town and that I shouldnít go by myself.  I kept shrugging his advice off and he kept saying, ďNo really, you should bring a friend.Ē  I told him, ďI donít have any friends yet

 

As Sarah relates her story, her coworker Joe became her first friend in London.  He convinced Sarah not to go on the audition and took her to a blues jam at The Ainít Nothin But The Blues bar in Soho instead.   She got up and sang the one 12 Bar Blues song that she had sung at Berklee.  Sarah would go home and listen to her CD collection of blues and use her little Casio keyboard to figure out what key a song was in.  Then she would go back the next Monday and tell the band that her song was a 12 bars blues in the key of A and precede to sing what she had learned the previous week.  It was an easy way for her to perform, meet people without knowing a soul.  With blues, everybody speaks the language if they know how the 12 bars blues progresses.  She found blues jams all over London from Sunday through Thursday that she went to every week.

 

 

How did you decide it was time to leave London and come back to Texas?

 

Sarah was in London for almost two years.  She did paid gigs, sang in a jazz band and a cover band.  Singing in a cover band helped her strengthen her voice and project on top of a band.


Buffalo Speedway

Sarah and Buffalo Speedway at Borders North; Austin, Texas; May 15, 2004

 

Heís Buffalo Speedway when heís on stage. Heís Andy Sharp when heís not. Andy is her husband and frequently is Sarahís acoustic guitar player.  Sarah met Andy at a bar in London through mutual friends.  She doesnít exactly remember her initial meeting with him but must have mentioned the blues jam to him because he showed up a couple of days later and ended up getting ďstuckĒ on stage with Sarah.  He started learning songs for Sarah and making the weekly blues jam rounds playing with her. After four months of being friends, Sarah fell in love with Andy. 

 

Sarah had to deal with immigration.  She had to leave the UK every six months and renew her tourist visa.  The last time she tried to come back into the country, she got detained, questioned and barely made it back into the country: so after four months of dating, they eloped.  It was for the right reasons but they did not have the luxury of time. 

 

Then Sarah persuaded Andy to come to the Texas to meet her family.  Andy decided he was willing to live in Austin.  This started the arduous task of getting permission to immigrate to the United States with Sarah.  That having been accomplished, they have been in Austin for approximately four and a half years. 

 

Sarah does not make a big deal out of the fact that she and Andy are married because she does not want the performance to be labeled ďa married act.Ē

 

Andy was born in Manchester, England and raised in Wales.  He is really just in my band to be nice to me Ďcause he would rather be playing in an AC/DC band (Sarah chuckles).  I think he enjoys it but itís not his dream band by any means.  He wants to be doing the screaming guitar solos.  Heís unique!  Everybody loves Andy!  Heís very funny.  He has the ability to be so honest and get away with it in a way that I canít.  Sometimes he will say something to someone to where I think oh god here comes world war three and they just take it because itís the truth and they know that heís coming from an honest place.

 

Give us an idea of what type of screaming guitar solo he would like to play.

 

His dream bandÖhe would like to be in either AC/DC or in Alice Cooperís band.  He was telling me the other day some chord idea, not the exact same thing, but it started in a Metallica song or something.  Of course I had no idea when we wrote it.  A lot of times the stuff we are writing is coming from him jamming out on some of his favorite heavy metal songs and then me making them more jazzy, adding seventh chords to it or putting a tension on it.  Itís a fascinating sort of a juxtaposition of styles.  Itís something where I remain blissfully unaware on purpose.

 

 

Out of Nowhere

In 2002, you produced your first album of music, Out of Nowhere.  How did that come about?

 

This was a natural progression of things a performer would do.  After having performed for a while, putting out an EP, an abbreviated music album, was something to show for Sarahís efforts and would be something she could sell at her performances.  Her drummer had a Pro Tools setup in a garage rehearsal area in which the album was recorded.  When it came time to mix the album, she called a friend of her father, Dan Workman, to ask who in Austin might be able to mix these five songs.  Dan had a gap in his schedule where he was able to do it the next week.  He spent the two days mixing the songs with Sarah.  While doing this, Dan became buddies with Sarah and suggested that sometime in the future that she allow him to record her work.  This friendship developed over the next two years. 

 

Were you pleased with the result of that album?

 

Yes, but it is hard for me to listen to it now. 

 

As time has passed, her voice became stronger and the band a more cohesive band.  Sarahís song writing has improved since that time and it is a good feeling for her now to have a new album, Fourth Person, to show for herself.  Nevertheless, she is proud of her first work.

 

 

Are there particular songs in that album that you particularly like?

 

Sarah still plays all the songs on her first album.  After Youíre Gone is a song she wrote with guitar player Jacob Wise.  After writing this song, she felt like she could really write music.

 

 

 

 

Lyrics - After You're Gone

©2002 I DON'T Mind Publishing

After you have gone, I will shine again
Friends will recognize my face again
And after you're gone
It may take some polishing
But I will be myself again
After you're gone

You will shake the demons out of me
Someday, you will finally shake me free
And after you're gone
It may take some polishing
But I will be myself again
After you're gone

And if you don't leave
Eventually, I will

After you're gone
It may take some polishing
But I will find my grace again
And I won't make the same mistakes
And I'll believe in love again
And I'll be proud of who I am
And I will be myself again
After you're gone

 

 

 ďMoms High Iím real proud of.  Itís so zany; all came out in one go.  Itís still exciting to play.  My mom loves it!Ē

 

Lyrics - Mom's High

 

©2003 I DON'T Mind Publishing

Mom's High
Hanging out in the sky
I saw her floating by
I don't ask why mom's high
But it's about time
And I just pray
That it don't go away
Keep mom high!

Hanging out with god
Cruising the sky
Floating above
She's flying high

She's like Mary Poppins
All eyes may be popping
But she feels perfect in every way
As she floats by I wave
I'll be the last one to weigh her down
No frowns no frowns

When you're hanging out with god
Cruising the sky
Floating above
She's flying high

Screw all you who can choose not to be blue
This doesn't concern you
It may be true or drug induced
But she has earned her doses of roses
Put down your noses and go back inside

Cuz Mom's high
Hanging out with god
Cruising the sky
Floating above
She's flying high

Hi mom
Sweet as apple pie mom
So glad you're still alive mom

 

 

The song, Momís High, did you solely write that?

 

I wrote it with Buffalo Speedway.

 

Of the five songs on Out of Nowhere, which ones did you write by yourself?

 

Just one of them, Out of Nowhere.

   

Tell us the background behind that song Momís High?

 

My mom is bipolar.  Medication regulates her mood.  She has a very severe case.  When I wrote that song, I had this conversation with my mom when she was manic.  She was bouncing off the wallsÖ. It was all this creative energy that ironically, I am always trying to strive for.  She was happy.  I remember thinking she was manic but why canít we keep her a little manic?  Is there anything wrong with keeping her on the high side of the pendulum?  At that time I had this dream.  I literally had a dream where my mom was floating in the sky.  People on the ground were looking at each other.  My sister and brother were rolling their eyes embarrassed.  It was kind of like a Mary Poppins thing were everyone was watching her float by.  I just decided to smile and wave and not be embarrassed and not weigh her down. 

 

Eventually, if she is manic for too long, she will crash and then she canít function and canít work.  Itís a constant monitoring of her medicines.  Itís not that simple.  In fact, sheís no longer able to work.   She hasnít been able to work for years.  Itís not just about my mom getting stoned.

 

In your song, Magician, you have a play on words in the spelling of ďsleight of hand.Ē  Was that intentional?

 

Yes

 

 Her use of  ďslightĒ in the lyrics brings a subtle nuance to the song.  It is something picked up by actually reading the lyrics versus hearing them.  It is a brilliant play on words!

  Lyrics - Magician

©2003 I DON'T Mind Publishing

Mr. Magician worked his way into life with my best friend
It was like magic, his sudden status of day out and day in

He liked to levitate her
Whirlwind romance
We watched him elevate her with the slight of his hand

Boy she was dazzled by the magic of his sweet embrace
Then, for his final trick, he disappeared without a trace

Off into thin air
He didn't last
It was more than she could bear
He sawed her in half

Ladies and gentlemen
For my final trick, I will vanish before your very eyes

He liked to levitate her
Whirlwind romance
We watched him elevate her with the slight of his
hand 

 

 

What you have just told us brings us close to the present. 

 

The Present

 

Now that we have a broad time line on your life tell us where are you presently in your lifeís plans?

 

Well, the plan is to sell lots of records and tour hard.  As much as I possibly can, I would not mind playing six nights a week for the next couple of years to build a foundation.  I want to reach more people.  I want to make a living.  I want this to actually be profitable at some point.  I want to go beyond hoping to break even on the money and time Iíve put into this.  Whatever Iíve got to do to keep earning the right to actually make a living as a musician the next few yearsÖhoping for some help. 

 

So far everything Iíve done has been as if no one is ever going to help me.  Iím continuing to be the person that does all of my booking, promotion and updating my website, networking, writing the business plan to get the money to the album made and all of it, all the business!  I feel like I am at a point whereÖyou just canít call the booking agent and say you should be my booking agent.  They tend to find you when youíre at the point where you have something to offer them.  Same thing with the manager.  Same thing with the record label.  Not that Iím not reaching out and trying to make people aware of what I am doing.  Those people tend to let you know when youíre ready.  I think I am. 

 

I do not know what else I can do other than keep doing what Iím doing.  Trying to get it out there.  Trying to get radio play.  Trying to get record tours.  Trying to actually make money.  Then at the same time trying to stop and just be real and be present in the performance and turn off all that noise when I am actually on stage.  Trying to shift balance from business woman to creative is a challenge. 

 

Lately, Iíve really wanted to finish some songs and write new material.  Itís just so hard to turn off the chatter and the running to do lists that never stops when Iím doing it all myself. 

 

If you were successful with your goals as you now envision them, where would you wish your life lead you?

 

I want to be able to tour and have a music career forever!  I want to be able to tour outside of the U.S. too a lot, to travel and tour and play.  I want to get to the point where I can become a mom and it wonít get in the way [Sarah bursts out in laughter], wonít ruin my career.  At this point when Buffalo and I toured the UK last summer, two of the nights we slept in the car.  Itís not the kind of thing you can do with a baby.  Iím all for strapping them on and bringing them along, but Iím not there yet.  Iím not ready to give up.  Some people find the balance.  I donít think it would be wise for me to have a child anytime soon.  I think it will be an amazing accomplishment when I get to the point where thatís okay. 

 

Do you think within your career that marriage; children or a life partner could fit into your plans somewhere down the line?

 

Iíve got my partner.  We are the happiest couple anybody knows.  I donít know how I got so lucky because my parents werenít happy.  I didnít have a lot of examples.  I lucked out! 

 

Tell us about your first full-length album, Fourth Person?  How did it come about?

 

There is this sense of urgency for me.  I know what I want, really.  I want a platinum album.  I want to win a Grammy.  I want to tour the world.  Whether its healthy or not, there is this constant feeling I had since taking my business classes at Berklee at age 21 ofÖIím going to be 30Öthis idea of getting as much accomplished as you can in your twenties in order to be marketable in order to be successful.  When I look at people that are 10 years younger than me doing what I want to do already, itís like, gosh, okay, keep working, keep working. With this album, I decided it was time to make a full-length album.  Iíve been writing songs for years.  Iíve been doing this for years.  I donít want this to be another baby stepping stone.  I want this to be the album that takes me through the next level, a big level, to get picked up by a record label.  I want to sell a million copies of this album. I donít want it to be another, just another step, another link in the chain where everyone says, well, good job, pat on the back, and maybe with the next album blah, blah, blah. 

 

So, I decided I wanted to do it right.  I wanted to make a finished product that was good enough to be picked up by a label.  The labels werenít exactly beating down my door with offers to sign me and give me a record deal.  I did not have time to wait.  I see that the industry is changing.  There is not necessarily any benefit to being for instance on a big label where you get lost and borrow tons of money; so, I wrote a business plan and I raised $35,000.  The plan included all the recording costs.  It included replicating the CD.  It included the mastering, the graphic design, the layout, the bonus film on the CD, a little P.R., everything needed to get the initial productÖ to get it out as much as I can and to search for distribution and to market and promote it. 

 

I had help from Dan Workman, the producer who pulled in Kevin Ryan, the co producer.  Kevin did all the arrangements.  We all had the same thing in mind when we made this album, finished product to be huge. 

 

Letís say that you were not as big as a success as you had dreamed for.  Assume you were in the business and you could make it financially and so forth, but you never obtained maybe star status, something like that, could you be happy if that were the end results?

 

Yeah!  Iím happy right now.  I do not know what else to do with myself other than to aim high and keep trying.

 

 

How did you come up with the name for the album Fourth Person?

 

At the last minute, we were playing with some album titles.  Iíd really trusted Dan Workman and Kevin Ryan on every step of the way.  They had a lot of titles in mind and strong opinions.  I was sort of settling for one Kevin had chosen but it didnít feel quite right.  I was at the gym.  I was thinking about the album.  I was thinking about the fact that there are eleven songs on this album and ten of them are in first person.  I got hit like a train with this wave of insecurity, embarrassment that this idea my album being a big me me me me!  I started thinking who else writes in the first person, trying to console myself, trying to compare myself to other people.  Whoís cool that writes in the first person?  I started thinking first person, second person, third person and then my mind kind of wandered this idea fourth person and thinking what does that mean?  Maybe it means the person thatís watching the first person; second person, third person or it means nothing at all.  The more I thought about it, it just grew on me.  I can think about fourth person the fact that there was me and Buffalo and then I found Dan and Dan found Kevin and the four of us are really what gave this album life.  There were other players, but I donít know.  The more I thought about it ÖI could think of a dozen meanings for fourth person but I also like the fact that somebody didnít necessarily have to think about it too hard. 

 

Of the songs on this new album, which songs did you write solely?

 

I wrote Itís Too Late.  I tend to write the melodies and lyrics and I get the ideas for the chords with sitting down with Andy, I mean Buffalo and Sam who used to be my bass player.  For the most part, I would sit Sam down and have my mini disk recorder and he would play ideas.

 

If I needed to sit down and read music and take my time, I could spell out chords.  It is so much easier for me to collaborate with people.  Also, I find it more interesting because I donít edit as much.  If I sit down at the keyboard and I am trying to come up with an interesting chord progression, I will say that is too simple or complicated.  Whereas I donít have to pay attention or know what key we are in when I am co writing.  There are some songs I look backÖwhere on earth did that come from? Just weird, but I like it.  Or, oh my gosh, itís so simpleÖI think if I had realized how simple it was I wouldnít have allowed it to be born because I would have edited it right awayÖto react and be intuitive about chord progressions instead of think them through

 

Is there a general theme to these songs in the Fourth Person album?

 

Dan Workman, my producer, pointed something out.  There is a lot that has to do with time.  You can hear it in my EP too, like the very first line says, ďAre you wasting my time?Ē  Then in Buzz Factor it talks about Iím no waste of time.  This was something totally subconscious.  You can tell there is this sense of urgency that runs throughout my songwriting that I was not aware until Dan pointed it out.  It has to do with:  I am going to be thirty.  I want to be successful.  I want a career.  I want to tour.  I want the record deal.  So, thatís a theme, not intentionally.  Itís embarrassing to admit it but thatís the only obvious theme Iíve seen.  Itís all love, relationships and lossÖ not all about love actually.

 

What I noticed about your songs is that they may say the relationship is over, but after all is said and done, I will be okay.

 

Even though I was insecure about the idea about a lot of these songs, like me, me, me, me, at least they are not woe is me, woe is me...ícause that drives me nuts!  My take on a lot of stuff is coming out on the other side of all that.  Iíve been there.  Iíve had my heart totally, totally, totally broken, once.  Iíve had a lot of disappointments in my life.  Of course there is going to be more, but I think Iíve got the tools.

 

 

 

The Past - Your Beginnings

 

 

Letís talk about your growing up years.  In a BBC interview, if I have this correct, you mentioned your younger years were not stable and you did lots of crazy things. Tell us a little about each of your parents and what they were like as you were growing up?

 

My dad is an attorney.  He grew up very, very, very poor as one of six kids.  His dad died when he was twelve, so he has always worked.  He built an amazing life for himself and for us.  He not only put my brother and sister and me through college but he ended up putting my stepsisters and stepbrother through college too.

 

 Lately Iím just so fed up with being an adultÖit makes it that much moreÖlike it really hits home when I realize what my dad did for all of us Ďcause I grew up with this sense of Öyou go to high school, you go to college, like it was a given.  He did not have to pay for all of Berklee.  I did it in 3 years.  I got a partial scholarship.  He provided a lot for us.  Thatís what he prides himself on. 

 

He is a recovered alcoholic.  He didnít drink every day, but he would have binges.  I suppose thatís how he dealt with the pressure. He hasnít had a drink in ten years. 

 

What kind of law did he practice?

 

Civil trial.

 

Tell us about your mom, about what she was like as you were growing up?

 

Sheís brilliant.  She would read like a book a day.  She went back and got her Bachelors while I was in elementary school, as a classical pianist so she has a music degree as well.  She used to be a very accomplished pianist. 

 

I guess when I was twelve is when they first diagnosed her as being bipolar.  She spent many, many years being a guinea pig to every new antidepressant that came out.  When it first happened, lithium was the only thing we would have used.  Then they started having all these other drugs to try on her because lithium didnít work.  Like I said, her case was severe.  They actually ended up resorting to electroshock therapy.  Thatís kind of a last resort thing that gave her temporary relief that of course wiped out her memory to where she would not remember trips we had been on or major stuff.  Itís something sheís been able to slowly piece back together, but there are many holes.  Itís complicated and itís sad.  She does the best she can.  Sheís an amazing part of my life, but itís a big challenge lot of times.  Itís really complicated.  Sheís suffered tremendously. 

 

 

Where your grandparents around when you were growing up?  If so, what influences did they have on you?

 

My grandfathers both died before I was born.  My grandmothers, one is still alive and one died in í96.  My dadís mom died in í96.  My family is very tight.  Theyíre all in Houston.  Theyíre all Catholic and there are a lot of them.  My mom is one of eight and my dad is one of six.  They have all totally molded me and influenced me.  My momís mother is also a pianist, classical pianist.  All of my momís siblings are musicians, not professionally.  Our family gatherings were sitting around with guitars and pianos and singing four-part harmony on songs I had only heard through my family.  My dadís mom was a very strong woman who raised six kids on her own because her husband died young.  She was amazing. 

 

Your web site uses these words, ďHaving grown up in a musically gifted family, her voice became her identity and music her destiny.Ē  In what way was your family musically gifted?

 

My momís whole family, all eight canÖmy grandmothers children can sing.  [They] have the natural ability to sing, to harmonize.  My uncle is a very accomplished guitar player.  When he was in college, he toured around and playing.  My mom has a degree in music.  Couple other uncles play guitar.  My aunt is in musical theater.  She has a lead in a play in Houston right now, a musical.  It was just natural.

 

 Something that got me excited about singing was in high school when I joined the choir.  That was the first time I realized that not everybody could sing.  I had never thought about it.  I thought that you opened your mouth and used your voice.  I remember being in choir and standing next to people who werenít in tune and being completely confused as to why they werenít doing it right. 

 

At the time I spent seven, eight years in ballet and was very serious about ballet and did not have much of a social life.  Then suddenly Iím a freshman in high school trying to decide if I am going to be a ballerina Ďcause it was time to commit myself 100% or move on.  It was too rigorous and expensive to do as a hobby.

 

Suddenly, there was this thing about me that I could sing and it was so much easier.  It was a vehicle for being a performer.  I got the lust for it from an early age from being in ballet and being on the stage, major productions for the Houston Ballet which is one of the biggest in the country at the Wortham Center at the Jones Hall, getting parts in the Nutcracker when they gave parts to the children.  Doing that in the fifth grade, sixth grade when every one else is doing their homework, Iíd be on the stage.  The huge stage and amazing bright lights, couldnít see a single face in the audience, this huge black hole with thousands of people and I was hooked. 

 

Did you have some brothers and sisters?  If so, what was it like growing up with them?

 

I have a brother and a sister.  Iím the middle child.  I have two stepsisters and a stepbrother.  I was an adult when my dad remarried.  I was seventeen and all my stepsiblings are older.  I didnít grow up in a house with six kids.  We are very close.  In fact my sister is going through a divorce so she and her fifteen-month-old baby live at my house.  So, Iím a full time aunt. 

 

As a child up to the age of 10, what were you like?  What kind of things did you enjoy doing?  What subjects in school did you enjoy the most?  Which subjects in school did you dislike?

 

At eight to ten, I started paying attention to what I was wearing and not wear my hair in a ponytail everyday.  I started to have popular friends.  That was like when I emerged out of [this] total geek world.  Not total geek, but when that stuff started to matter.  I caught the wave.  I had cool friends, slumber parties and all that stuff.  I was very involved in ballet.  My dad had a sailboat and we would sail every weekend down in Clear Lake, near Houston.  Thatís what pops into my mind.

 

As a teenager, what were you like?  What kinds of hobbies and interests did you have as a teenager?

 

The choir is where I excelled.  I was taking voice lessons.  I was competing inÖin high schoolÖas a sophomore I made it all the way to state in competition for UIL as a soloist.  Nobody had any idea that I was going to do that.  I donít think I had any idea I was going to make it to state.  I was involved with church groups. 

 

I had my best friend Dina.  We started to get wild within reason.  I was a good girl. 

 

Tell us about wild or nutty things you might have done in high school?

 

When I was fifteen, my friend Dina turned sixteen, she got her license and we were driving around listening to NirvanaÖit was the first night out with the car and she wrecked it.  She ran a red light and totaled her motherís Lincoln Town Car with me in it on our very first night. 

 

I really was a good kid.  I never was grounded.  Part of that was that my parents were lenient.  I sort of got lucky.  I went through a Holy Roller stage in high school, which served me well because I chose not to do any drugs.  I grew out of that but it was timely.  I could have probably ended up doing any number of things I glad I didnít do, especially now.  Iím a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Austin.  I look at my fifteen-year-old little sister and Iím just so glad that Iím not in high school.  It was easier.  It was easier ten years ago. 

 

We were more crazy.  We were always going to parties and we always hanging out with people in grades above us, getting invited to the dances and stuff even though we were freshmen.  Oh gosh, this is something!  In Houston, there was this place called the Bagel Manufacturer right in The Village. You know kids use to wrap houses [in toilet paper], Dina and I came up with this idea one night to pull up behind this dumpster behind the Bagel Manufacturer and actually climb in and pull out trash bags full of day old bagels or two day old bagels.  We would drive around Houston bageling peopleís houses instead of wrapping them with toilet paper.  They would wake up with a yard full of bagels.  We would stack them up on their antennas; on their windshield wipers and that became quite a trend.  Then everybody did it!  I havenít thought about it in years.

 

 

 

As you were going through your teen years, what do you remember as being difficult to deal with if anything?

 

I think I had it easy compared to a lot of people.  I had good friends.  I had real people that were my friends.  My best friend from high school is still my best friend.  Sheís the last person on earth that would do anything to stab me in the back or that awful mean stuff that people do to each other in high school.  We leaned on each other heavily. 

 

It was tough having an alcoholic dad and a bipolar mother trying to get through high school but it wasnít awful.  It was what it was.  I donít think I would have anything to write about if, you knowÖ.

 

 

 

 

I understand that you studied ballet for a number of years?  How did that come about?

 

I started when I was seven.  When I was little, I was taking ballet, piano, and softball.  My mom said Iím not driving your butt all over town youíve got to pick one.  I picked ballet.  I kind of wish I had picked piano. [Sarah chuckles] Oh well!

 

There was definitely a lot of discipline instilled [in me].  I was in one of the premier ballet schools in the country.  You did not go there to have fun.  You went there to get your butt kicked, to get screamed at if there was a piece of hair that wasnít totally slicked back on your head or if your leotard wasnít the exact right color of blue.  In the summers I would go five days a week, five of six hours a day. 

 

 

What did you like about ballet?

 

I donít know.  It came to a point where I had to let it go.  I didnít love it enough to make the sacrifice to kill myself the way I would have to, to be a professional but I just love to dance.  I still love dance even after I quit ballet I did modern and street dancing in high school. 

 

Do you still practice your ballet routines?

 

No, but I do lot of yoga now, so there is still a lot of body awareness and alignment, flexibility and strength. 

 

Besides yoga, are there other types of exercising that is part of your life?

 

Andy and I hike a lot.  We hiked for two hours on Sunday on the green belt.  Thatís our time to, you knowÖHi, remember me!  Iím your wife!  He runs his own company and we both work fifteen, sixteen hours a day.  Sometimes I work to four thirty in the morning, kind of keep crazy hours.   Middle of the night is often my most productive.

 

What kind of work does he do?

 

Andy does IT consulting, web development, data base programming, graphic design, sort of web based solutions.

 

Is he the one that does your web page?

 

Yes.

 

 

Tell us how you first became interested in music?

 

My mom was practicing four hours a day when I was in elementary school.  We use to complain about itÖget woken up from the piano.  It is amazing when I think about it now she can still sort of play with all of her journey.  She went through many years of losing her fine motor skills.  Her motor skills are not what they use to be, so I miss it terribly.  So, my mom was constantly playing the piano.  My family got together every possible reason and every time the family got together guitars came out and harmonyÖand the first time I made up a little song when I was in the second grade when my momís best friend committed suicide.  Itís interesting when I think that was kind of a trauma and my reaction was to sit on swing set and make up a little song.

 

 

Where does and how much of a role has composing music for plays fit into your career?

 

Itís huge!  Everybody can sing.  So many people can sing.  Nobody cares if you can sing.  Very few people get to be just a singer, which is all I ever wanted to be when I was first at Berklee.  Iíve forced myself to write songs so that I that I could make people to listen to me sing.  Those are the things that carried me.  A good song that sticks with someone, that moves them, that makes them buy the CD, that makes them play it for their friends, that makes them come out when I perform, thatís what itís all about.  It feels great!  It feels great to be a songwriter.  I never would have imagined it six, seven years ago that I would have all these songs written that I would like them. 

 

 

What musical instruments do you play?

 

I barely play the piano, just enough to feel my way throughÖthatís what I visualize when Iím thinking of music theory, but I really donít play.  The songs Iíve written by myself are based on a really simple bass line or progression.

 

Late Nights and Coffee Shops

 

 

Where do your ideas come from when it comes to song writing?

 

For me the hard work is the lyrics.  When I need to buckle down and get some stuff written that means I need to spend some uninterrupted hours in the coffee shop with my journal.  There is like a process when I write and I write and I write and I write and I empty out all the noise in my brain onto the paper that I finally get through to a point of clarity to where it starts to be details and creative and intuitive and themes sort of recycles themselves and keep coming up and saying that there is something on my mind that I would have never realized on my mind or I start to draw conclusions and Öso the effort is in the lyrics.  The melodies come easily and the chord ideas come easily from whomever I chose to collaborate with.  Just a matter of hearing something and going ďWow, I like that. Okay, what if we did this?  Okay.  I really like this!Ē and start making something up and then itís like ďHey, what does this want to be about?Ē  I will go searching through my journal for something that I kind of thought about and had written out and make it fit. 

 

As you sit there at the coffee shop, are you writing notes or words?

 

Iím not usually hearing notes.  Iím just thinking about words and themes and ideas and images.  Sometimes a song will get written on the spot.  Thirty minutes we had absolutely nothing and thirty minutes later we have a whole song.  Sometimes it takes forever.  Iíll put it away and come back to it a year later.  So, in the coffee shop, itís not melodies.  Itís kind of being prepared for when inspiration strikes to have some raw material. 

 

You get your words written first and then the music comes later?

 

Yeah, but it might be like only be one really great line, no general idea of what I want the song to be about when it gets written, but I donít know what itís going to sound like and I donít know whatís going to happen.  There are  a lot of those out there that will get written at some point.

 

What is the process of writing the music to the words?

 

Unless it just happens on the spot like I just sit down with AndyÖHey, letís write a song.  Thereís a song I am trying to finish with my friend Sam who wrote some of the songs on the album.  We started it last week.  Weíve got our first verse and its like he sat down and played the first verse and I liked it and I said, ďGosh, that reminds me of this thing Iíve been working onĒ.  I read him all of my brainstorming themes having to do with falling in love with the person on stage.   When you are so moved by somebodyís experience, you feel love for them.  Itís like making fun of myself.  So we have the first verse.  I have to go away and figure out how to finish the song, find more words, finish telling the story, figure out a bridge.  I donít think about melodies at all.  They just happen.

 

What role does caffeine play in this writing process?

 

Yeah, it plays a role, for sure.  Iím not like a caffeine junkie.  Something Iím more likely to do is go to like Mojoís [Mojoís Daily Grind] thatís open all  night get a glass of wine and just be kind of delirious because itís late and have one glass of wine.  Relax, itís something you have to relax into.  Any one of my journals, you turn to the back page and the back few pages are just ďto doĒ listsÖícause Iíll get distracted.  Iíll think, ďOh god, I didnít call so-in-so backĒ.  So, I will write it on the back page and Iíll write a little bit more and Iíll be like, ďOh darn it, I need to mail that packageĒ and Iíll just make myself a note on the back of the book.  I have to keep doing that until my mind filters through all that noise and craziness. 

 

So, caffeine is not necessarily what I need Ďcause Iím actually trying to chill.

 

Is Mojoís your coffee shop of preference?

 

I would hate to say oneÖI spend a lot of time at The Flight Path.  I spend a lot of time at Mojoís Ďcause theyíre just kind of the closest to me. Sometimes Iíll drive to Buoldin Creek or Flipnotics.  Sometimes, I hate to admit I will go to Starbucks because they have those big armchairs.  Any coffee shop that I write in, I have to be able to sit Indian style in a cushy chair for hours at a time.  I not going to do it like sitting at a desk. 

 

So, you have your legs crossed?

 

I tend to sit Indian style with my journal in my lap.

 

And thatís comfortable for you?

 

Un-huh.

 

What times do you go to these coffee shops?

 

All different times.  Iím always struggling with time.  Sometimes I just go in the middle of the night because nobodyís going to call me.  If you read the lyrics and listen to Coffee Shop song, thereís a lot about that.  Thatís where that came from.  There are four different characters in that song and theyíre real.  The people who Iíve observed or approached meÖlot of times I will go to Mojoís in the middle of the night, every time I go to Mojoís in the middle of the night, somebody, some stranger sits down at my table and starts talking to me.  Itís just such a fascinating group of people and I consider myself compared to most people thereÖAndy does a lot of sales and has to have a nice car.  Iíll show up in his nice car.  We own our house.  Iím not a student anymore but I like being there among these people who are freer and itís the middle of the night and always somebody will sit down and just start talking to me. Iím like, ďI hope you donít mind.  I came here to write.  Iím going to just keep writing.Ē  I have pages of writing down what someone said to me one night.  Iíve never seen them again. 

 

These people that come up to you, are they generally male or female?

 

Both!  Mojoís is just one of those hippie groovy places where everyone is like, ď Hi,Ē the boundaries are different.  Itís so Austin!  If I was in New York, I would probably be intimidated if there was some dude trying to talk to me in the middle of the night.  Youíre never going to feel unsafe there. 

 

 

I understand that you have kept a journal or a diary for a number of years? How did that come about?

 

The first time I started keeping a journal was with my first heartbreak, actually, in like sixth grade.  Not like real heartbreakÖthe first little boy I really had feelings for, breaking up with me type thing.  I told you once before that I was really in love and had my heart totally broken, you know my high school sweetheart and also through the first couple of years of college.  When I was going through that breakup, two of my girlfriends brought me a journal and they were checking on me daily in the dorm.  I was a total basket case.  They just encouraged me to write so that really kicked in and that was before I tried to write songs so it was really just sort of processing my insane heartbreak but then it became more of a vehicleÖI donít sit there in my journal and go (Sarah alters her voice to a higher pitch), ďToday, I had coffee with so-in-soĒ.  Itís not like a chronicle of what I do.  Itís more a stream of consciousness. 

 

If one were to open up your journal and read it, what type of things would one find in it?

 

Iím writing in the first person and itís not me.  I would hate for somebody to get a hold of one of my journals.  I am happily married stable person but in order to have something to write about, a lot of times I go down these paths of imagining other realities or putting myself in someone elseís shoes writing about the affair one of my friends had.  The fact she is juggling three different men at the same time.  Itís not about me.  Iím absorbing whatís going on around me and the people that Iím close to and their experiences.  These themes that repeat themselves when I help my girlfriends through their heartbreaks, it so universal.  Itís never anything new.  Itís age-old ways human beings interact.  I donít know. 

 

It might be writing down a dream.  It might be writingÖyeah, I donít know.

 

 

 

If you did not keep a journal, what would you miss in life by not doing it?

 

Thatís a great question!  What kind of got me sold on the journal thing was after I initially started keeping one and then I started trying to write songs, I decided to go back read through my old journals.  What I was fascinated to discover was that I had all the answers.  All this time when I was breaking up with my first loveÖI deserve better than this.  I shouldnít have to put up with thisÖI nah-nah-nah-nah-nah.  I had all the answers!  I was telling myself, but I wasnít listening. 

 

I just brought a journal for my little sister [Big Sisters].  Sheís fifteen.  I bought her one with a lock on it cause she has three brothers because I think it is such an important part of figuring things out.  Just like I was earlier saying I had a pretty good skill set when it comes to coping with just about anything.  That comes from figuring it out, cause and effect and where this stuff comes from.  When someone is mean to you, are they really a mean person or are they Öeven if it hurts it might feel better to understand where itís coming from? 

 

Songwriting

 


How do you know that it is time to write a song?

 

Well, sometimes it just happens but a lot of times I have to force myself to do it because I have to force myself to slow down.  Itís this sense of wellÖa lot of times it like my career is starting to feel a little bit stagnant.  I need something to boostÖand anytime when in doubt just keep writing long term.  Thatís going to serve me even if I am never hugely famous and touring the world.  Iím still going to have these songs written and maybe someone else will record them. 

 

Once you start composing a song, does the writing process come quickly or does the song writing process occur over a period of time?

 

It goes in batches.  I am the very beginning of a batch of songs that are coming out.  I havenít finished any songs in a really long time.  Over the last year, I been such a businessperson, writing this business plan, getting an album made, working so I have kept a journal but havenít really tried to finish anything Ďcause I havenít been able to make space for it.  Iíve got a week coming up at the end of June where Iím playing the Cactus Café in Austin, Poor Davidís Pub in Dallas and the Mucky Duck in Houston.  Those are three venues that are premier songwriter venues on a national circuit where national songwriters tour and play.  Itís a big step for me.  Thatís a reason for me so thatís a reason for me to be like, ďOkay Sarah, better have something new, something new and fabulousÖto hook people withĒ. 

 


You have composed songs in collaboration with other artists on your Fourth Person album.  How does that come about working with strangers?

 

Well, I donít really work with strangers.  The only other personÖhave a couple of songs from our old guitar player Jacob Wise and then Sam Arnold, who was our bass player, is a very good friend of ours.  He came to our show on Monday and I go to hear his band play.  We just kind of had a really great writing session and decided to keep doing it.  We make appointments. Tuesday at one oíclock heíll come to my house and weíll drink tea and put the mini disk recorder out and run through some old ideas that did not get finished or record some new ones.  Usually I will take his rough chords and idea and go away and finish something and then say, ďHey, guess what Sam?  We wrote this song.  Want to hear itĒ?

 

I havenít written with very many people.  Written one song with my friend Michael Ramos.  I have tried to write with other people but it doesnít always work.

 

 

What was your thought process in deciding that you were going to be a performing singer/songwriter/musician?

 

I think I always wanted to be a performer from the time I got the itch as a ballet dancer.  Then I decided I wanted to be a singer when I figured out that was something special about me and how much easier it was than dancing.  Then I figured out all I want to do is make a living as a singer.  I did that in London but I was in a cover band.  It quickly became apparent that singing Sheryl Crow cover tunes, top 40 cover tunes, for my supper was not going to be fulfilling forever.  Thatís when I made myself write. 

 

Was the process of deciding to become a singer/songwriter one that took a long time or did the decision to start down this path come in a relative short period of time?

 

I made myself write my first song, I guess, six years ago.  Theyíve come in batches.  The more that these batches add up makes you more truly a songwriter.  I have felt truly a songwriter in the last year or two instead of somebody whoís written a couple of songs.   That make sense?

   

 

Travel

 

Do you like the travel part of your endeavor?

 

Yes, for sure!  My dad has a house in Honduras.  Iíve lived in Venezuela.  I speak pretty good Spanish.  I use to be fluent in Spanish.  Iíve lived in Europe.  Iíve lived in Boston.  I love to travel.  It is a big part of what drives me. 

 

Andy and I got to go Chile because my brother was living there.  It was everythingÖdiscovering new geography, the way it all fits together, the food, the wine, the mountains, the cultureÖIíve never traveled with any luxury what so ever, generally with a back pack

 

Nothing fills up my creative well more than travel.   Being in a country or a road trip, taking a break from my routine and obligations, experiencing new things, hearing other languages, trying new foodÖWe did a horse back riding trip in the Andes just for the day.  It was amazing!

 

Performing

 

After you give a good performance, what are some of the gratifications you get from performing?

 

Itís not after.  Itís during.  Itís when you can feel the audience responding when they get it.  When you see somebody smirk or laugh, nod their head in acknowledgement of a lyric, when you can hear a pin drop because they are really paying attention, thatís the gratification.  

 

In general, as you are performing, what is going through your mind?

 

It is totally dependent on the scenario.  It is a skill that I hope will get better and better because I know I have got a lot of room to grow in as much as being able to control an audience.  The word ďcontrolĒ does not seem appropriate.  Some people have it down.  Theyíve just got it totally down and I donít. A lot of the times Iím thinking ďSay something SarahĒ and I canít think of anything to say.  I just want to move on to the next song Ďcause Iím blanking and donít want to say anything stupid.  Iím not scared to sing but I get stressed out about having something to say.  Itís gotten a lot easier.  Itís easy if I play at Flipnotics.  People are totally paying attentions as compared to like if I am playing with the band at a big wild venue where the sound isnít that great or whatever. 

 

Will you tell us about one or two of your best performance experiences?

 

Sometimes the whole nightís great or sometimes there are certain things that were great like the band was really tight or I was pleased with my connection with the audience.  Itís great when a lot of people show up.  Thatís when itís really fun!  Playing in front of a couple hundred people instead of twenty people is always really nice.  Itís so easy to do a good job when there are a bunch of people there.  Itís harder to do it right when there are twenty people there or when there are five people there. 

 

There are certain people that I really admire who are so selfless, have no ego and do music for the purist reasons but they are going to give the same performance for five people there or for five thousand people there.  Thatís what I try to remember.  Thatís what I strive for.

 

What are some of the names of performers you really admire?

 

An example is my friend Glenna Bell.  She is not known but sheís just finished an album.  Itís going to be amazing.  Sheís in Houston.  I think she teaches college English.  Sheís not doing it for the glory.  Sheís just got an amazing voice and sheís an unbelievable songwriter.  Sheís so present in the moment that itís glorious.  It doesnít matter if there are five people there. 

 

Tell us what you recall as one of your worst performance experiences?

 

When I first moved to Austin and one of the first shows I ever did original music with the band, it was at Babeís on Sixth Street.  I was just overcome with nerves because it was so bad.  The band was so loose.  My drummer had sprained his ankle and was trying to play through it.  We just did not have it together.  Itís okay to get out there and do it when itís not together Ďcause youíve got to do it.  It just happened to be in front of people who do have it together who I knew from the few months Iíd been in Austin hearing them perform and they happened to be there.  They left after the first song.  Thatís rejection.

 

Weíve gone through a lot of evolving the way we play with the band.  Like I was saying earlier, Andy would really rather be in an AC/DC type band.  When we first tried to play our own music, he was trying to do those big loud screaming guitar solos with his electric guitarÖplay really loud and I was having to scream on top of it.  It just wasnít right.  It was just totally humiliating. 

 

Do you foresee any circumstances that would change your goal of becoming a musical performer?  If so, what might that be?

 

No, Iím going to always want to perform.  I canít imagine not performing.  I wouldnít mind being wildly successful picking and choosing the choicest gigs ( she chuckles), but I canít imagine ever stopping. 

 

For aspiring performers that might want to try doing what you have accomplished so far, what words of advice would you give them to help them along the way?

 

I think itís great if youíre talented.  Some people that are not that talented work hard and get where they want to be.  This whole American Idol mentality is such a disservice to young people because there is not someone that is going to scoop you up and give you a record deal and make you a star.  It might happen but if you plan for itÖitís such a silly waste of effort.  The only way I know about going about things is as if no one is ever going to help me.  I met with a young girl recently who can sing and is cute.  She had it all planned out her idea of herself but she was not taking any action.  Sheís not playing out loud.  Sheís not playing with other people but she knows when someone gives her a record deal and she gets it all, she going to be great. I couldnít think of a way to tell her that sheís got it all wrong.  Youíve got to earn it!  Some people donít.  They are the exceptions.  I am far less inclined to help someone who doesnít get it, Ďcause I donít want to perpetuate the myth all youíve got to do is be confident and how fabulous you are and everything will come your way.  For instance, my friend Glenna, Iíd do anything to help her because she deserves it.  I would love to see someone like her get plucked up and turned into a big successful person Ďcause she is doing it for what I see as good reasons as opposed to someone thinks theyíre cute and thinks they have a pretty voice, thinks they would make a really great teen poster icon as soon as someone turns them into a super star.  I would have given anything when I was twenty one and I was graduating from Berklee for somebody to write songs for me, give me a record deal and do it all for me but I am glad that didnít happen Ďcause I would have never written any songs and I would have never gotten the steps of fulfillment from having had to do it myself. 

 

Now, I want help.  Iíve worked hard for what seems like a long time and in reality Iím going to keep doing it, but it sure would be nice at this point to have the support of a record label, a good booking agent and that kind of stuff.

 

Letís assume that through your hard work and talent that you have been able to attain success in your musical endeavors.  Given that, describe what you envision this success to be, say in five or ten years from now?

 

I want to be like Patti Griffin.  I want to tour.  Sheís got the respect of so many people who are musicians.  Sheís inspired so many other songwriters.  Thatís somebody I admire.  Sheís pretty darn cool to me!  She not out touring every night, puts out an album she does a tour.  Sheís not playing three hundred shows a year although in the short term I do want to do that, not forever. 

 

When you have a chance to relax, what do you enjoy doing?  What types of hobbies or outside interests do you have?

 

Andy and I go hiking.  I go out a lot to hear music, which is also kind of work, networking, staying part of the music community.  I am out three, four nights a week in Austin hearing other bands play. My big indulgence is doing crossword puzzles!  The New York Times or the L.A. Times.  [I] stay up too late doing it.  Thatís the way I kind of put myself to sleep.

 

In your hiking, where are some your favorite places to go hiking?

 

Locally we hike on the green belt a lot.  We climbed Mount Snowden in Wales, which is near where Andy grew up.  Thatís probably the best hike I have ever done.  We have been to Big Bend.  I want to go to the Grand Canyon.  I am hoping we do some kind of tour where we drive near the Grand Canyon and we add a couple of days in some hiking.  Andy and I also climbed a glacier in the Alps where my aunt has her apartment.  One summer she paid for us to have a guide take us to the top, in the Alps.  You hike for a day, get to the base camp, spend the night at the base camp, wake up at three in the morning, have breakfast and climb to the top of the mountain, have to jump across crevasses, get back down what seems like the end of the day but its 11 AM in the morning and hike all the way back home. 

 

If for some reason you were not able to continue to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter, do you have an idea of what alternative career you might choose to pursue?

 

Gosh, I donít want to let myself think about it!  I really donít know.

 

Tidbits - Closing Questions

 

 

Not Scared

©2003 I DON'T Mind Publishing

I'm not scared of you
What's the worst you could do
It's been done
What's the most it could hurt
Not as much as the first one

 

Can you tell us a little background on your reference to the ďfirst oneĒ and going a little nuts afterwards?

 

I went totally nuts.  The lyrics for Finally, same breakup.  All that crazy stuff that I think everybody does at least once but hopefully you do it once and you learn from it and you donít turn into some like a crazy stalking psycho woman who puts all their happiness in somebody elseís hands.  I look back on it and laugh at myself.  I had put all of my happiness in somebody elseís shoulders.  Itís just something immature and needy.  A lot of people do it especially the first time you fall in love with someone, youíre not disillusioned yet.  You donít know better.  [You] give yourself to someone on a platter and know that itís going to be forever, Amen, and then itís not.  I learned how to be a little bit more prepared to not have all of your happiness based on having one person in your life. 

 

Tell us about the musical competition in Austin, stretching and outdoing ones self?

 

I havenít been embraced in Austin with open arms.  A couple of little darlings have gotten to show up, be the hottest new thing, over night success, but not really.  Even those are not as over night as it might seem.  There is this element that everyone does not want to miss out on what they are suppose to be aware of.  Early on, I was doing my best but it wasnít getting anyoneís attention, so I tried harder.  Iím still trying harder and harder.  Some of what I have done has gotten some peopleís attention, but not everybodyís. 

 

Iíve never been written about in the [Austin] Chronicle or Xlent [Austin American Statesman].  I used to listen to KGSR and KLBJ in the morning.  I spent two years visualizing myself on that show and knowing some day I would be on there.  They would love it!  Now I call up and I have been on that show more than I could count.  On Monday, June 28 when I play Cactus Café, Iíve already lined up guest spots to play live and promote my show on KLBJ, KGSR and KUT during the day.  From building relationships and showing up and being on time, being kind and writing a thank you note and also not sucking on the airÖ it is perfectly good what I doÖnobodyís telling me I canít sing or ďWho are you foolingĒ.  Itís just what have you done lately to raise your profile or get some more attention or get some moreÖIt all comes down on the local level what am I going to do to inspire people to get off the couch and come out and see me and maybe even pay a cover at the door tonight?  If they are off the couch, to come see me instead of the other thirty options they have tonight. 

 

                          

 

 

 

You mentioned that you grew up in a Catholic household.  I was wondering what impact that made on your life growing up and what influence does it have on your life presently, if any?

 

Iím kind of thankful for the Catholic upbringing, being forced to go to Sunday school and knowing what to say when I am in church.  I canít imagine how I am going to handle that when I have kids because I do not want them to totally miss out on that aspect of our culture but I am not a real believer. Iím spiritual and I talk to god a lot.  When I go to sleep at night, when I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is make the sign of the cross and talk to god, but itís not bloody Jesus on the cross that I am talking to.  I donít feel it.  Itís more of a universal spirituality.  This god is a higher power whatever form you use to interpret it.  I think itís all the same God.  So, its just part of who I am.  My husband is not religious at all but he knows that I pray a lot.  Ah, I donít know.  Itís really a personal thing. Itís hard to take a stance like, ďIím no longer a CatholicĒ.  Oh god, my grandmother is going to cry herself to sleep when she reads that. 

Sara with an

Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your life with us!



Sarah Sharp's Web Page



Photography by Paul Johnston

Interview Conducted May 19, 2004; 10:30 AM



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© 2004 by Paul Johnston - News Story