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Rising Stars: Meet Sarah J

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah J.

Hi Sarah, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I started my musical journey when I was about 9 years old, although much of my family says I was singing before I could even talk. I started singing and dancing in musicals and it just naturally progressed and flowed into what I do today. I am classically trained, vocally, and had the same vocal instructor for about ten years.

She really is more like family now. I have always been intensely passionate about music and I think growing up watching my dad sing in a local band in my hometown of Huntsville, AL really magnified that passion even more. I started playing guitar around the age of eleven and piano around twelve. I always loved playing guitar, albeit difficult to learn in the beginning stages. However, when I started playing around on the piano I instantly fell in love. I was hooked for life and really never looked back. I taught myself in the beginning and then eventually started taking lessons to progress my skills.

The week before I turned eighteen I played my first contemporary live show in Huntsville, AL. I had absolutely no idea that night would change everything for me. I went into that show thinking it would be an amazing hobby because I love to play my instruments and sing, but I realized that I could possibly expand this into a career after getting an amazing reaction from the crowd. Soon after my first show, I began to book monthly, then weekly, in Huntsville playing at local fine-dining restaurants, casual restaurants, breweries, and doing private events.

My original music is a mix of neo-soul/pop and alternative and my cover music genres range widely so I am able to match the atmosphere of a venue by playing anything from Sam Cooke to Coldplay. After about a year of being in the Huntsville music scene and winning “Best Musician of the Year, 2021,” I knew that I would be moving to Nashville soon to attend Belmont University, on a fast-track undergraduate program in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Occupational Therapy, so I began to pursue new avenues in the Nashville area. I was fortunate enough to connect with some amazing people and quickly started booking private events here in the city.

I now do mostly fine-dining shows, private events, and weddings and I absolutely love my job. I never in a million years would have thought that one night back when I was seventeen would have led me to be a musician in Music City at nineteen years old. I have residencies here in Nashville and travel back to Huntsville for shows about once a month. It is challenging being a full-time student and working as a musician, but I would never wish for anything else.

I have already met some amazing people since I moved here in August of 2021 and am very excited to see what the future has in store.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The biggest challenge for me was getting my foot in the door, especially in the Nashville scene.

Because of my young age, most places and management overlooked my emails and resumes in the beginning. However, a few people hired me as a musician after listening to my music and everything has really been expanding ever since.

Other than my age sometimes being an obstacle, I spent much of my senior year in high school playing shows and working on music. So, I sacrificed a lot of my “high school experience” and social time with friends in order to grow in my career.

However, I think that it was well worth it and my high school was always very supportive of me along the way.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am most proud of my work ethic, drive, and independence. Many people my age do not know quite yet what they want to pursue in the future, and that is absolutely okay. However, I was lucky enough to find my niche early in my life, and though it may look effortless, colorful, and energetic on the stage it takes an immense amount of hard work to make it to that stage.

The show is really just the tip of an enormous iceberg and I am very proud of myself for putting in the hard work and creating a solid ground for my career to launch off of. I do all of the promotion, management, booking, and social networking on my own and it really takes a great deal of effort, motivation, time, and maturity to do so. My mother sets a great example for me on the business aspects of things. I believe that you, as an artist, are a business first and then a creative.

Therefore, if you do not have the business skills and work ethic it is much more challenging to be a successful independent artist. I think that this is what sets me apart from others and I mean that in the most modest way possible. I admire all of the artists that I am surrounded by and am inspired every day by them, however, I do think that my dynamic communication in business and my work ethic have helped me tremendously in the success of my career.

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
Before life got busy with my music and my brother’s athletic programs, we used to go camping on the lake almost every weekend. We would ride jet skis and boats and camp in RVs.

Our family friends went with us almost every time and we are still best friends to this day. It was really just the best time.

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1 Comment

  1. Kim

    March 15, 2022 at 6:30 am

    Beautiful Sarah!!!

    I was one of the lucky ones to have seen your first performances as a little girl and to work w you in Music Mania. Every year you grew and continued to wow us all. Every year a star!
    So proud of you sweet girl! We need to meet for coffee when I return from Italy!

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