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Sarah Louise: the UK Country singer-songwriter that just wants you to believe in yourself
This interview originally appeared in Mindful Melody Issue 9, which you can purchase here.
Hi Sarah, thanks so much for taking the time out to answer these questions! You recently released the inspirational ‘Sunflower EP’, which opens with the powerful track, ‘True to Me’. It sounds defiant without being vindictive, which gives the song an overwhelmingly uplifting and positive feeling. How important was this to you when writing this song?
Thank you! I am so pleased you got that feel from the track, I wanted it to come across as a liberating feeling to finally take back control of a situation, and it was important to me because I know a lot of people who can relate to the chorus especially.
One of my favourite things about Country music is the harmonies - yours are beautiful and very distinctive. Who would you say your main musical influences are?
I love creating harmonies that’s one of the reasons I love country too. My main influences are Shania Twain, The Chicks, The Shires and Ward Thomas, but I also love Jo Dee Messina, Lauren Alaina and Taylor Swift.
‘Can’t Stop Me Now’ covers your use of affirmations to help boost self-esteem, with mantras such as “I am enough”. How have you found that mantras have helped you, either in terms of your personal wellbeing or your creative process?
Creating my own affirmations that I actually believe in has been a hard process, as I used to talk to myself in the mirror and feel silly. But now I feel silly if I don’t do it, and I really notice if I miss a day. I think it is so important to speak kindly to yourself daily, there is always something nice you can say to yourself. I also like to help my singing students with this process.
I previously wrote an article on how we could use song lyrics as daily affirmations. If you had to choose a particular line from a song that you feel conveys a really important message and would make a great mantra, which lyric would you pick?
Wow, good question! I love George Benson's song, ‘Greatest Love Of All’, and used to listen to Whitney Houston’s version. It was my go to song when I was growing up. “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way, show them all the beauty they possess inside.” I think children are a precious gift. and if we don’t show them from an early age what they have, it will take them longer to believe in themselves.
I really love the title-track, ‘Sunflower’, where you encourage the person you’re singing about to fully appreciate and realise their worth. What’s the meaning behind the line “The only thing stopping you is me”?
I was going to see how long it would be until I had to explain that part, as I really wanted the listener to use the lyrics for their own interpretation. It is actually a song about me talking to my conscience, and the response back. Sometimes we listen to the negative voices more than the positive ones, and I am trying to get across in the song they we will always find a way out of sadness or unhappy thoughts.
You include some really moving voice-notes from Lottie Wickenden on ‘Sunflower’ - what inspired you to introduce these into the song?
Lottie has always been my little best mate, since she has been growing up she has always been involved with me making songs with her Daddy - Mark Wickenden, my producer - in the studio. She asked me what my song was about, I said it was a sunflower, and she said, “They are the most beautiful flowers of all, as they love you just the way you are.” I was so taken aback, I posted a video of this in my group and a friend suggested I used her voice in the song. I asked her and she was so excited to be included, and she completely made the song so special as that’s what it was about - being completely happy with who you are.
"I lost my friend to cancer in May 2021, and she said to me, 'Sarah, if you don’t make it work as a singer-songwriter you will be doing the world a disservice.' That has stuck with me and always will."
I’m a huge Country fan, and it’s exciting to see how quickly the UK Country scene is growing. What drew you to Country music in particular?
My Dad always used to play Don Williams, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, and I also was in a country band when I was a young teenager. I loved how the artists wear their hearts on their sleeve and speak so much truth in their songs. I found a new love, but tried to hide it as none of my friends really showed an interest in it, until I auditioned for The Voice and the judges said I had a beautiful natural country twang and should concentrate on this genre. From then on, I created a whole album of my favourite country songs and I knew then I was “home”.
You’ve spoken before on social media about the difficulties of being an independent artist, and all the added pressure, stress and work that goes into each release. What advice would you have for other independent artists that might be struggling with this?
Giving up my steady job is one of the hardest decisions I have made, but I knew I wanted to grow as an artist, and to be able to do this I needed to put all of my energy, heart and soul into it without any distractions. I would tell everyone who wanted to release their own music to definitely do it now whilst they have the chance and never look back. Even if people think you are crazy, just know what you want and don’t give up.
I lost my friend to cancer in May 2021, and she said to me, “Sarah, if you don’t make it work as a singer-songwriter you will be doing the world a disservice.” That has stuck with me and always will. My friend Carly and my daughter Francesca are my “why” - the reason that I am so driven and determined.
Finally, we ask all our interviewees to name their favourite three songs that have a theme of mental health. What would be your three choices?
1. Man in the Mirror - Michael Jackson
2. Greatest Love Of All - Whitney Houston
3. Getting Good - Lauren Alaina
Sarah Louise's Sunflower EP is out now on all platforms!
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