There are singers who have the ability to hit the right notes and convey the emotion of the music. And then there are those for whom singing is more than just a talent they possess, it's more like their very reason for being, a force that drives them, a guiding passion of their lives.
From an early age it was clear that Sara Devine was more than just a woman who could sing. She was a woman who was placed on this earth to do just that. That singing was in her heart, her soul, and that someday her undeniable passion and purpose would bring Sara's brand of R&B to a wider audience and allow her to bless the world with her voice.
You can hear that passion and the unbridled joy on Sara's self-titled Columbia Records debut. "Making this record, being able to work with people I trust, who were supportive made me feel comfortable enough to try things and really express myself. I have good memories of the recording process."
As you'd expect from an album cowritten by the artist herself, the songs on Sara Devine are both personal, yet universal, in delivering messages that speak to everyone. When asked what she wants those who hear her CD to experience, Sara offers, "I hope that people hear someone who is relatable and accessible. I know a lot of people out there who are fans of R&B but who don't relate to the whole bling-bling vibe or the whole 'take someone's man' craziness. There's more to life and to music than just creating these unrealistic overly dramatic scenarios. My music is a reflection of someone who tries to live her life calmly, positively and filled with love."
Those qualities and that integrity is abundantly displayed on the first single, the playful romp "Take Me Home." Cowritten by Sara, Jake and the Fatman and Kelvin Wooten, "Take Me Home" is about that moment when a friendship between a man and a woman reveals the possibility of becoming something much more. As Sara explains, "I'd been asked to contribute to the soundtrack for 'Brown Sugar' and though that didn't work out, the theme of the movie moved me and that turned into 'Take Me Home.'"
Another song that draws its inspiration from matters of the heart is the lilting title track. Cowritten by Sara and Ciro (producer and guitarist for Corey Glover), "Beautiful" celebrates love and commitment as Sara's emotional performance captures the feeling of finally finding someone you can fully trust and love. "It's so rare for young women to find that right man," says Sara, "and 'Beautiful' is about finding that man who is so right that it becomes so much more than just sex. I'm lucky enough to have that experience, so writing this came easily."
Love of a different kind motivates the uptempo testimonial "Special," a song that is close to Sara's heart. "I wrote 'Special' for my girlfriends and all of my sisters (she has five) back home in Arkansas," Sara says. "It's about watching women go through things and having so much love for them and especially sisters who helped raise me. 'Special' is to honor them."
That devotion to her friends and her family is essential to Sara as is conveying a soulful, positive vibe through her music. "I'd like to think of my music as inspirational," she says. "If my mom had her way I'd be singing gospel so my challenge is to make the music that I love but make sure its not dirty or dealing with silly things. I'm just trying to be true to myself and what I believe and give people a sense of my soul."
Sara Devine was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, the second youngest child in a family of ten kids. Her father is a pastor and her mother sings in church and both parents imparted their love of the spirit and of music to their children: all of whom sing and/or play an instrument. It's no wonder that Sara can't remember a time when music wasn't a part of her life; in fact, her debut album opens up with a recording of a three-year Sara vocalizing.
In adherence to her religious beliefs, Sara and her siblings sang in church and were supposed to stay away from worldly music. But, of course, kids being kids, Sara somehow always managed to check out whomever was on the radio. Today, Sara counts Prince and Whitney Houston as among her pop/R&B influences while Christian music greats like Vanessa Bell Armstrong and Commissioned are among her gospel favorites.
A good student, Sara never seriously considered making music her career. "I didn't think it was possible," she confesses. "Growing up in Arkansas, there weren't a lot of people around me who grew up to be singers."
Armed with her dream, but still pragmatic, Sara studied to become a teacher and was certified as a reading specialist. It was while Sara studying that she met her future husband, fell in love and relocated to New York City where she finished up her education. While attending classes, Sara began to seriously think about making music more of a part of her life and started doing background vocals (among her gigs working with Bilal, Mary Mary, and Sandra St. Victor), singing in wedding bands, and cutting demos: in short, Sara did whatever she was called upon to do in order to showcase her talents and make connections. "There was no way that I was going to stop singing, so I did just about everything that was available to me," Sara admits. "Eventually I decided that I wanted to dedicate all of my time to singing instead of splitting it up between teaching and singing. I loved working with my students and mentoring them, but music was really was my passion and as luck would have it, I got enough gigs to make a living at singing. Even the kids I worked with were excited about me singing."
Sara may have been making money but she wasn't fulfilled creatively and she knew that singing other people's songs or backing up other artists wasn't enough. She began writing original songs and soon had enough material to do an acoustic songwriter's showcase at the Cornelia Street Caf