Taking her background as a classically trained cellist and flipping the script a bit, Sarah Clanton brings an infectious energy rarely seen by typical singer-songwriters. Wielding a cello and a sultry voice, Clanton delivers poetic gems to an ever growing audience. The summer of 2015 marks the release of a stripped down collection of original songs. This self titled EP follows her debut full-length album in 2013 with Grammy nominated producer and Americana livewire, David Mayfield, that resulted in a gorgeous collection of full band Americana-tinged songs that touch on pop, jazz, rock, and folk influences that many draw similarities to the stylings of artists such as Rickie Lee Jones, Norah Jones, Regina Spektor, Frank Zappa and Lady Gaga.
Sarah Clanton also spent time (2008-2011) producing and booking the solar powered festival Music in the Woods at Paris Mountain State Park in Greenville, South Carolina for the non profit Dryridge Productions. When she's not touring Clanton spends her time teaching cello and songwriting as a private instructor and through presenting in schools.
JL: What is the story behind your song "Tequila"?
SC: Through a good friend, Tom Bettencourt, in Greenville, South Carolina, where I moved to Nashville from, I met Richard Leigh. I had met Richard a few times on my adventures with Tom to Nashville and Richard had become a fast friend. So in September of 2013 Tom threw us a house concert. It was a magical evening full of good people and just an incredible night of music with the King of Cry. The next day the three of us got together again on the back porch at Tom's house to write a song. Since I am gluten intolerant, we sipped on Tequila out of wine glasses over the course of the afternoon, talking about life. After some sips, there was laughter, the sharing of embarrassing moments, of heart ache and adventure. I remember blurting something out to Tom and Richard and then apologizing for my absurdity by saying "Don't listen to me its just the tequila talking..." And there it was. Richard stopped me in my tracks and said, "There's our title, lets write that." That was a day I will never forget, getting to write with Richard. That man has a gift, songs flow from him like chocolate out of a fountain. Like water over Niagara falls. Everyday since then I continue to gain appreciation for this experience. Today, Tequila is still one of my most beloved songs and even earned a spot on NSAI's top 40 this quarter. You can take a listen and give it a vote through the end of April 2016. If you are in Nashville, you can hear me playing cello with Richard at Douglas Corner on June 10th.
JL: Why do you write music?
SC: I was born with a passion that I can only describe as inescapable. Music has always led me, as if there is nothing else I am supposed to do. I write because I love to sing, I love to make sounds, I love the way the cello makes me feel when I pull the bow across the strings. That is how it started, when I was young. Music has always been a constant in my life, it has always been a part of who I am. Today, and in my career, I write because I want to pass on the feels that music has given to me. Music makes memories, it is therapeutic, it is inspiring. Music brings people together and creates communities. I write as a way to give back to all it has done for me.
JL: What are your fondest musical memories?
SC: This question could be a novel! Playing in a classical ensemble until I was 24, getting to stand on stage with Sandi Patti when I was 4 years old and dance my little brain out, touring Europe with an orchestra in high school, playing the first song I had ever written on cello to sing with at the Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, NC for an auditorium full of people that gave me a standing ovation (I cried afterwards I was so inspired!), playing the Bluegrass Underground with the David Mayfield Parade, all the festivals I have played, writing with Richard Leigh, getting to tour across the country in a 12 passenger van that leaked power steering fluid, with 6 people, then in contrast, touring alone in my toaster (Scion XB) for 4 years,...the list goes on and on. That does not even begin to scratch the surface or include mentioning all the amazing souls I have met along the way! There are countless memories, people, places and tales that I will never forget that have molded me into who I am today. Every time I play a show, attend a show or go to a conference or workshop, I grow, I learn and continue to become.
JL: If you could open a set for anyone, who would it be?
SC: Grace Potter, Norah Jones, Laura Marling.
JL: Why is independent music important to you?
SC: Independent music is important because it provides a platform for experimentation and growth. Because of independent music we are able to see and hear an infinite variety of talent. We can make a living how we want to, creatively and through many avenues. Being an independent musician is a never ending adventure and learning experience. Being an independent musician forces me to learn the business, forces me to keep learning my craft so that no matter the goal, I can be achieve it because I have had to do it all DIY first.
JL: What is your advice to fellow independent artists?
SC: Just keep on. Keep practicing, keep playing, keep doing...this is not a sprint to the finish line.
JL: You are releasing an album soon, right?
SC: Yes, a full length album in 2017
JL: Have anything else you want to say?
SC: This is a great way to introduce people to new independent music and I’m very happy to be a part of it, thanks for having me.
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