Sara Hickman describes making music asa weird job because who knows where it comes from? There’s nothing, then: Bam! A song exists. And if it connects with other people, that weirdness blends into blissful camaraderie. Or it pisses people off. But I guess that’s what art/music is supposed to do - cause a reaction. Otherwise, you’re just a feral cat, but you aren’t aware of the fact.
The press clippings go on to remind us that her "music has been critically acclaimed by Rolling Stone and many, many others. But it’s Sara’s statement that gets us and of course, the music, the music that says it all. Her new albumSHINEis just out. It's a stunner with ten new songs developed from poems and visions by Sara and another writer and producer, Jim Jacobsen.
Sara wrote answers to questions we sent her. Wonderful answers.
What inspires you?
Do you mean for songwriting or in life? I'll assume you mean both: My children laughing, painting for hours, uninterrupted: newspapers, cereal boxes, subway ads, poetry, movie scores, mix tapes, letters, books, credits at the end of the film, liner notes, theatre, a kiss in the rain, running, textures, big storms, holding hands, learning something new, narwhales, family history, oddities in junk shoppes, friends, teaching, journaling with friends, God.
What are you most proud of musically?
That I haven't given up, even when I felt like I didn't count or matter. The music leads me on. I don't know I'd say I'm proud of that . . . more so, I'm GRATEFUL to the music inside me for rolling me forward, always. Thank you, music! And thank you to my guitars, each and every one of them. They've been the dearest friends you could wish for. I'm proud of how they hear what I want to share, and that we create together.
What attracted you to Luna guitars?
Their beauty. The first one I saw had the painting a la Mucha on the front, a lovely woman, and I knew: I HAVE to have one of those mystical, magical guitars!
What's something that gets in the way of your creativity and how do you move through it?
Life. I try to flow. If it's laundry, I enjoy the laundry. If it's running up to school to bring a forgotten homework assignment, I end up talking to the woman at the front desk. I think the only thing that gets in the way of my creativity is ME mixed with FEAR. I have to move past ME, my own walls, and just enjoy doing something until I am inspired to create. I also enjoy moving through roadblocks by calling someone and co-creating. I get motivated by motivating myself :)
What role does vulnerability play in your work?
I was quite shy but picked up the guitar at 7. My first time on stage, I won first place in a contest for patriotic poetry and I believe the reason I won was because I wrote a song and my vulnerability was very apparent: I did not know about guitar straps and, awkwardly, held my guitar through the entire song while I sang.
In junior high and high school, teachers were supportive and encouraged me, even though I still performed with my eyes closed. But, in college and onward, I transformed my vulnerability into a strength through humor, storytelling and sharing my emotions instead of hiding behind them. I think allowing myself to be vulnerable and present in a performance is what binds me with an audience. Being vulnerable means creating family through music, instead of my being a "performer" and the audience passive "listeners."
Describe a snapshot of a joyful moment in your life
Singing on the same microphone with John Prine at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas, "Angel from Montgomery." Oh. My. Goodness. That is one sexy dude. Of course, you could ask me this question every day, and I would, always, have a different answer. That one just popped into my mind (in terms of a musical joyful moment.)
Do you have a mantra or manifesto for living and loving with your whole heart?
Gurumayi Chidvilasananda told me, "Feel better now." At first, after I had cried with her about a break-up, I heard her words as a question: "Feel better now?" But, later, I realized she was hipping me to the fact I can choose to feel better right now! I have a card from her that reads, "It's alright; It's ok." I wrote a song for my first daughter based on that mantra. And it is Jesus who has taught me to love with my whole heart, and has shown me to go where it is darkest and bring hope, bring love. Even when I'm not sure what the heck I'm doing, I've always listened to the voice (God) that says, "Go here . . . " and "Do this . . . " and I try to follow the path of action and kindness. I'm imperfect, but that's ok. I'm trying to listen and give the best of myself.
Thank you, Sara!