Local singer Sarah Sellers first came to my attention via Dallas jazz institution Damon K. Clark. But beyond that shining recommendation, I had no idea she'd been a contestant on American Idol, or that she had a pretty hefty series of YouTube song covers out there, reinterpreting Adele and Lana Del Rey. Or that she's a prolific food blogger. Or that she has a killer voice.
Sellers opens for R&B singer Monica tomorrow night, September 29, at House of Blues, so I asked her a bit about her trajectory, and what's next for her.
I learned of your name from a piece we did on Damon K. Clark, but I wasn't sure if you considered yourself part of the jazz scene in Dallas. How long have you been living here? I love Damon. He's one of those rare talents that is so refreshing and a pleasant surprise to discover. We had actually been friends for quite a while before I heard him sing and when I did, I was absolutely floored. I wouldn't label myself as a jazz artist, but over the last few years I've had some amazing opportunities to connect with the local music scene and meet some incredible musicians from all types of genres. This spring it will be 10 years that I've lived here and I just now feel like I'm starting to scratch the surface.
Can you tell me a bit about your experience on American Idol? Why did you decide to do it, and how many hoops do you really have to jump through? I guess you could say Idol was the start of a new discovery phase for me as an artist. I've always been a singer first and songwriter second, and it seemed easier to just audition for Idol and jump start my career from there. Well, I can definitely say it's not easy by any means but I'm really thankful for the experience.
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I auditioned four times before I finally made it to Hollywood in season 10. On TV, you see one audition in front of the judges then straight to Hollywood. You actually have to endure a massive cattle call with 10,000 of your closest musician friends followed by a second audition in front of the production staff, then a third round in front of the executive producers of the show. On the fourth round, I finally saw the judges, then on to Hollywood. It was long, emotional, draining, and an experience I'll never take back. It really opened my eyes to the type of artist I'm not and who I actually want to be. It opened doors that I wouldn't have had without Idol and I'm grateful for that. The biggest thing I can take away from it is a motivation to keep doing what I love, no matter what.
Are you recording an album right now? Yes, I'm currently co-writing with Josh Goode, who has turned out to be the missing piece in my creative journey up to this point. Not only is he such an incredible musician, but he can take my ideas and my words and make something really beautiful. He'll be playing with me when I open for Monica at the House of Blues this Saturday and we're really excited to debut six new songs we've been working on. This will be the first project I've worked on that's completely mine and I can't wait to share it with everyone.
You blog about food and music - what parallels do you see between the two? Food and music are two completely different and satisfying creative outlets for me. I've always loved food but it hasn't been until the last 10 years that I've developed my appreciation and respect for cooking. There is so much amazing food in this city it's hard to not fall in love with it. Food and music both bring out such passion and emotion out of people. Whether it's writing a song that touches a particular chord in someone, or taking that first bite of a dish that absolutely takes your breath away, the creative possibilities are endless.
Whether I'm locked in my music room or cooking something for my husband, I feel the most at peace when I'm exploring both sides of me. It's hard for me to just sit down and relax but once I start creating a new recipe or writing a new song I feel like I'm discovering different parts of myself all over again. It's been a journey up to this point and I'm loving every minute of it!