Longtime LGBT Supporter, friend, and advocate, Sara Bareilles has had some significant changes in her life. Two of the most important are moving to New York City and the success of her latest album, “The Blessed Unrest,” in which fans (gay and straight) are encouraged to be “Brave,” be who they are, and stand up for what they believe.
If you’re not following Sara Bareilles on Instagram you are missing a bird’s eye view of what it means to be a singer/songwriter in this day and age. Her unique sense of humor, style, and passion for life shines through in images of random scenery, media appearances, live performances, and daily life.
Recently, her personal coverage of her Grammy nomination for Album of the Year for “The Blessed Unrest” and her performance with the legendary Carole King was enticing. An artist that takes her craft seriously but not herself, Sara has instantly become a fan favorite. Most importantly, through her unabashed sup- port for gay and lesbian rights, Sara has encouraged us to be “Brave,” and we encourage her to never stop shining!
Sara it’s good to have you back on the radio with new material. “Brave” has quite an interesting message. Can you tell us about it?
I wrote this song with a good friend of mine, named Jack Antonoff, from the band Fun. This song was born out of our very first writing session together. I think it was a topical song for me, as well as for Jack. We really connected over our advocacy work for equality and gay rights. He had just launched his nonprofit called The Ally Coalition, which is straight voices speaking up for equality for all. I also was dealing with a very close, personal relationship, a friend of mine was struggling with coming out. This was really a connection for us, to talk about speaking up for something bigger than you, for authenticity and equality. I’m really happy to see that the song is connecting.
You put out a small EP about a year ago, Tell us about your inspiration.
This cross-segment of work is a collection that I wrote over the past year and a half of my life. I did a lot of changing, moving, and letting go of things. I moved from LA to New York, and I experienced a break up of a very long-term relationship. It was a hard year emotionally, but it was a really rich one in terms of what I could use for inspiration for writing. These songs get deeper than the surface, you see the change, the letting go and embrace of what is to come. These songs were a vehicle for me to find my own power. I hadn’t moved in a really long time and it was very challenging. It was exciting and exhilarating in certain ways, but it was really hard to say goodbye to my network of friends and family. In some ways it really ignited the parts in me that needed to feel alive again. It made me feel brave and strong. I’ve been taking away a lot from New York. It’s electric, and I think it shows in the writing. I’m really loving who New York is allowing me to become.
For those who have not been to New York City, describe what makes it exhilarating.
I think there’s something about being around that many people at one time. You’re literally on top of each other and live in close quarters. Everything is packed: buildings, streets, subways. There’s not a ton of space, and there’s something that happens energetically. Unless you are driven and really focused on moving forward you can easily drown in New York. It’s exciting to be around so many people pushing forward and, most times, in an artistic way. New York is very plugged into the arts community. It’s very intellectual and passionate. It’s infectious in a cool way.
Where do you like to vacation when you can slip away?
I’ve started two versions of what I consider a vacation. One is heading to the mountains—I’m a big horse- back-riding fan. There’s a place in Colorado that I love. I went there for the first time by myself, doing yoga and horseback riding. It’s called Hollow Ranch. It’s incredible—it’s a sanctuary. I also love going to Big Sur in California. I like to get into nature. If I’m not in the mountains then I like to hit the beaches. I have a dream of returning to Greece. I went there once in college and loved it.
Is there something you are notorious for leaving behind when you travel?
I’ve traveled so much that I have become so obsessive about making sure that I check, double check, and triple check the room before I leave. I have left behind so many thing before, like a pair of pants hanging in the closet or my phone charger. Most things are replaceable. I just try to remember the most important things. I have a big stuffed teddy bear that I travel with and do not want to leave without it.
One last thing, what key message should we get from “Brave” and your feelings behind the song?
I think we need to look at things as human rights. It’s your right to feel safe and feel protected. When I see how much of ourselves that we still feel the need to hide in order to fit in, or not ruffle feathers, it makes me hope that that will change. I have this optimism that people will create a culture of understanding and acceptance. Taking my friend for example, they felt alone but there was love for them. It makes the difference. Being who you are is important.