One week before my release, I did an online radio interview with Jacob Soileau for Bayou Country Music Association. After our interview he invited me to the kickoff party for The Third Street Songwriter’s Festival in Baton Rouge, LA. Lainey Wilson was playing, and I was excited to attend! I went as a spectator, but I dressed myself like I was performing. I mean, decked out.
After the show the producer of the festival was informed that one of the Nashville songwriters had backed out last minute for a writer’s round the following day. They asked me to fill in!
And there goes the story of my first writer’s round.
I showed up the next day decked out because I WAS performing. I played a few songs, gained a few fans, and caught some attention. Mostly, I gained CONFIDENCE.
It felt so good to walk down third street after my performance and be recognized. I got stopped for pictures and autographs. There it was; AFFIRMATION. I was connecting. I love my fans. Love is a beautiful thing.
After my set at Stroubes on 3rdstreet, I went down to talk to a few of the other sognwriters. For just a moment I had the attention of our little circle when I felt a hand stick out for me to shake. It belonged to a fellow that I had been trying to reach for months. I had shown up at his venues, made numerous phone calls, left messages, and sent e-mails all to no avail. He was wearing a shirt advertising one of his establishments. He said “I’m ____ _______”. I shook his hand with a smile and said “I know who the ____ you are. I’ve been trying to get in touch with you for months.” Everyone, including my new acquaintance, busted out laughing. I think this is why they call me “The Pistol”. He must have been impressed because despite my attitude, he invited me to his songwriting festival taking place in May (2018). This was the SOLO Songwriting Festival and I got to be a part of its inaugural year. Grateful.
A piece of advice comes to mind here. That weekend at third street, Clint Daniels told me something that I will never forget. He said, “Every opportunity leads to another opportunity”. In essence, he was encouraging me to just show up. He was right.
Now upon releasing my album, I received a Facebook message from Chris Smith of Country Music People Magazine. He informed me that someone had passed along my record and he was reviewing it for the magazine!
The SOLO Songwriting festival was an absolutely amazing event for me. I wrote incredible songs with phenomenal people. I met my heroes, and new family members. Music does that to people; makes you feel like family. At the grand finale show I debuted a song I had written that week with Paul Sanchez called "Little Orphan Child". After that show, I got offered a Buddy Holly Educational Foundation Scholarship to attend the Chris Difford Songwriting Retread in Somerset, England. A special thanks belongs here, to Kenny Klusman of Acadiana Security Plus. He sponsored my SOLO Scholarship, and has been on my team ever since.
“Every opportunity brings another opportunity”- CD
A couple of days before I departed for England, I got an e-mail from Country Music People Magazine informing me that Chris Smith had given me a favourable review and it would be published in June’s issue of their magazine!
Now coincidently, Trudie Myerscough-Harris, the producer of the SOLO Festival was English and was also producing the CDSR that I was attending. Trudie picked me up from the airport in London, along with Gary Burr. Before heading off to Pennard House, where the retreat was going to be held, we stopped off at Trudie’s home. There I met radio icon and legend, Whispering Bob Harris.
Naturally my first question to him was, “Bob, do you receive Country Music People Magazine?” Haha! He said “Why, yes Sara! I do!” He ran and fetched it for us.
Bob and I sat together reading Chris’s review of my record. I got 3.5 stars out of 5, and he only knocked me in one area: production. That was alright with me because I rookie produced it! Y’all I had written most of this album in high school. I was stoked!
Bob said “Sara! Chris Smith is notoriously harsh. This is a GREAT review! Congratulations! Do you have a copy of the record with you?”. I was so broke that I had not even made hard copies. I explained this to Bob, and he bought it on iTunes! What a man!
Later that week, whilst at dinner (in my best British accent) Bob called Trudie. It was a serendipitous moment as I was seated right next to her and we were at table with many people. Trudie hung up the phone and turned to me:
“Bob loves your record, Sara. He is going to play one of your tracks on his radio show on BBC Radio2 tomorrow night.”