“I hope I get to do this as long as I want to. As long as I still enjoy it and as long as it brings me as much joy as it does, I hope that this is always an option for me,” Sara Bareilles says as she chuckles.
Based on the huge smile across her face, chances are Bareilles will be singing and performing for a long while.
Bareilles always liked being on stage; she took after her mother and sister who were big in community theater. So when she was in elementary school, she started singing and playing piano as a little girl growing up in Southern California. She sang in choirs throughout her childhood and continued to pursue singing even in college.
She spent her college years at UCLA where she majored in communications—a subject that she mostly enjoyed.
Bareilles recalls prerequisites like economics and statistics as being the worst parts of her time in college. She found college to be too heavily based on memorization and busy work, but she generally loved her experience. But that can mostly be attributed to her time with her a capella group, Awaken.
“I remember I wrote a diary entry after I got into Awaken and I literally was like, ‘Oh, I found my home here,’” Bareilles says. “It was like meeting my tribe, people that could understand me and could understand that need to perform and be silly and kind of had a flair for drama. I felt like I really found people that understood me to my core.”
During her junior year of college, Bareilles traveled to Italy where she studied for the entire year. It was during this year she realized that music was no longer just a hobby, but something she needed to survive.
Bareilles finished college in five years; she took her father’s advice to avoid aiming for four and rushing into anything. She appreciated college for being a time when everything was brand new.
“It was the first time you didn’t have parents watching you, so you kind of got to see yourself run wild a little bit; and then you start to see how to be in charge of yourself for the first time and that’s really exciting!” she says.
She spent the first few years after college waitressing and living in Santa Monica where she frequently performed at open mic nights. Bareilles played hundreds of shows, anywhere and everywhere. Some were good and some were awful. She describes the experience as being all about getting her hands dirty.
Then in 2007, “Love Song” dropped as the free iTunes single of the week and everything changed. People started downloading her song like crazy, she was asked to travel the world and everyone started recognizing her. But nothing seemed to hit Bareilles until that same song was on a Rhapsody commercial.
“A lot of experiences that came along with that first year of really going to work was very surreal,” she says.
Since that first year, Bareilles has been touring and writing new music. She says that writing music can sometimes be a challenging process, but ultimately it is rewarding and she feels the need to do it.
Bareilles just finished touring with Lilith Fair, where she performed alongside musical veterans like the Indigo Girls, Mary J. Blige and Sarah McLachlan, and she is ready to keep things moving as she anxiously awaits the release of her new album, Kaleidoscope Heart, and her headlining tour. She says she is very excited for people to hear the new songs and come to the concerts.
For all the aspiring college singers out there, Bareilles says focusing on the art of performing is the most important thing you can do.
“I think sometimes people get ahead of themselves because they really want to be on TV or they really want to be famous or go on tour. But I think that if the music isn’t there, that stuff eventually gets weeded out,” Bareilles says. “I think that if people are really serious about it they should focus on the craft. That will make you a better everything.”
Image courtesy of Sara Bareilles.