A mother's kisses

Sara Hickman doesn't need to please anyone anymore

After her experiences with major labels, Hickman has a strong, slightly barbed view of the industry. She mentions an encounter with her songwriting friend Pierce Pettis, who shared a word of personal wisdom with her one evening several years ago.

"He said, 'You know, I quit the music business,'" Hickman recalls. "And we were sitting on stage when he said that, but I knew what he meant. It wasn't so much that he cared what anyone thought about him, or him trying to write a song to please the label. He just gave it up, and all he did was write for himself, and the minute he said that, I started carrying it in my heart. I was like, I quit the music business. I realized you just get caught up in the whole thing. I just want to go and put my music out, and I don't care if only 10 people buy it."

So far, it's too early to gauge how well Two Kinds of Laughter will do; with the late-March release date, the label won't have accurate figures for at least two months, if then. But regardless of what the numbers might say in eight weeks or eight years, Hickman says she is pleased with the scope of the new album and is already working on the next one, which will further explore her use of voicings and chord arrangements, as well as continue her more personal, introverted songwriting. Numbers and awards are not the way she measures success anymore. She has learned to look inward for that.

"I think there's always been a little silent pocket in my heart that's very quiet, and it's the consistent thing that keeps me going," Hickman says. "It's this little voice that, when I'm really down, it's there, and it goes, It's OK, you're doing OK, you're doing what you need to do. I think that for a long time it was hard, because I think people value, or they look at success as, you know, winning a Grammy and living in these stellar homes, and blahblahblah. And to me success is knowing that the next time I see Carl, he's going to nod his head and have that grin, and I know that he's saying, Oh, yeah, you're doing it. I want the success that comes with my peers who look at me and go, Man, you rock.

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