Kirk: Hi Sari and thanks for taking the time to speak with me this evening. You were inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame back in 2015 and are enjoying well-earned success. What was the journey like for you leading up to that?
Sari: I would say that the journey had been slow and steady. The thing that kept me going was that I never lost sight of my appreciation of music and it was that love of music and that love of singing that sustained me through all the ups and downs. There are a lot of hard times when you decide to dedicate your life to making music but I never allowed myself to do anything else. I think it is every unhealthy to be motivated by money and fame. Just take it day by day and appreciate what a privilege it is to be able to make music professionally, whether it is for one person, or a thousand people. I remember having a five-piece band and there were nights when the band outnumbered the audience. I can still remember those nights. I worked with a saxophone player at that time and I remember asking him “How is it that you can deliver 150% every show?” and he replied “Because I am never above the music.”
Kirk: You come across as a spiritual person. You mentioned at one point that the experience of working with Mike Vernon “saved you”. When you look at the probability of Mike Vernon coming out of retirement to work with anyone again was extremely low. Do you believe in fate or a “guiding hand”?
Sari: I really do think that fate played a hand in that. I think that we can generate a certain amount of luck for ourselves by being open to new experiences and being open to the unexpected things that come into our lives. As we travel through life I believe we should take comfort that there is a certain amount of fate the will protect us but we have to be open to allow it to come into our lives. Meeting Mike Vernon was one of the most incredibly lucky coincidences in my life but there was a certain amount of control that I had to take. I was told not to go the event where Mike would be by a very jaded business executive in the music industry who was managing me. He’d said that I did not belong at that event and that I was a nobody.
My immediate reaction was to believe him but then I asked myself why I was doing all of this? After touring with Joe Louis Walker I knew that there would be a lot of friends at the event. I woke up that morning and went straight out and bought a ticket and flew out that day, thereby allowing fate and good luck to find me. You have to put yourself out there and trust your intuition.
Kirk: The album is called “Force of Nature”. Who have been the forces of nature that have inspired you?
Sari: My parents. My Dad was a real force of nature. He was a jet fighter pilot in the Air Force. He was dynamic, passionate and had a huge love of music, so from a very young age I was exposed to a lot of different kinds of music. Blues, Jazz & Soul.
My Mother was a fashion model and she was the most gentle woman I have ever met and she taught me compassion and love. She is truly a Saint but also my best friend. I lost my Dad on Christmas Day many years ago but I try to hold on to those 2 qualities of my parents: my Father’s passion and my Mother’s compassion. I try very hard to incorporate both of those qualities into my life and my performances.
Kirk: One my passions is to meet people and listen to their stories. You seem to be driven by story telling in your music. You write stories of your own life but also write songs about other people’s lives and sing other artist’s songs which contain stories. An example of what I am referring to is the song you wrote about Mike Vernon’s wife after seeing a photograph of her and also your cover of the Walter Trout song “Work No More”.
Sari: I first started as a singer but then wanted to communicate more by writing but it wasn’t a comfortable experience for me at first. I was uncomfortable about pulling the veil back and letting people in to the most private and most sensitive parts of myself. When I overcame the fear, and realised that my stories are merely about “the human experience” and that they are nothing special. I am just one spiritual being having the human experience just like every other soul on the planet and we are all experiencing these same joys and fears. When I started to feel this connection, I wasn’t afraid anymore. I started thinking that maybe my songs could be healing, and a celebration of who we are.
Kirk: There seems to be 2 very different Sari Schorr’s on this planet. One is sitting here talking to me right now and is calm and serene. The other Sari gets on stage you and almost seem possessed at times, it’s fantastic! Is there an alter ego that comes out or are you just really enjoying yourself?
Sari: It’s an interesting question. I know a lot of musicians that I have worked with that have a very hard time transitioning from off-stage to on-stage but I find it very easy. When I am on stage I am “The Story-teller”. My body and my voice are the vehicle for the story. The more transparent I make myself the more believable it is for the audience. I serve the song.
Kirk: As part of that performance you put your voice through a lot. How do you manage to keep going for a whole tour without wearing it out?
Sari: I’m very lucky to be honest. Part of my opera training helps I think. I have tremendous control over my voice and I know how far I can push it. But after a long run of shows I am physically tired and when I’m physically tired my voice does feel tired, but I am really lucky and I thank God that I have never had a problem.
Kirk: You have a break in the tour from May to July. Wayne Proctor is producing the new album, will you get a chance to work on this over that time?
Sari: These are really challenging times trying to finish this album but we have made great progress and are more than half way through it and we will be going into the studio with the band to do some live recording so hopefully by May, June, we may be mixing the album. Then, when we are done I may be able to go back to New York for a couple of weeks.
Kirk: I’ve always wanted to go to New York and all being well will be able to spend some time there later in the year on a long weekend of Blues and Photography. Where do you recommend?
Sari: I would go to BB Kings and also you should check out The Iridium. Those are the 2 best clubs for Blues. You may also want to check out Terrablues. That’s quite a small and intimate club.
Kirk: Sari, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you. I’m really looking forward to the gig. Thanks once again.
Sari: Thanks for the great questions. It’s felt more like a conversation than an interview. It’s been a pleasure, like I was talking to a friend.
Kirk: Wow, that's quite a compliment. Thanks and good luck with the rest of the tour and the new album.
Location: The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
the voodoo rooms, edinburgh