Photo by Todd V Wolfson
Sara Hickman describes making music as a 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 album SHINE is 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 are some of your other passions?
Spending time with my children, my family. My kids think I want
to spend toooooo much time with them, but I love hearing what
they know and think about, I love watching them create. They are
beyond gifted! Just brilliant people! And my husband - he makes
me laugh so hard. He's patient and talented and a good, good man.
Um. Besides that, reading, painting, writing letters, and I'd love
to ride a horse every week. OH! And I REALLY like buying Groupons
and trying new things: I've tried trapeze, I got my concealed handgun license (I just wanted to understand the law and learn how to shoot a gun), and I want to learn how to fly a helicopter, next.
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
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
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
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!