Dallas Musicians Sing About Their Breakups for Mental Health

Sarah Johnson is releasing an EP on the same day day of her event Heartbreak Heroes.
Sarah Johnson is releasing an EP on the same day day of her event Heartbreak Heroes. Jessica Waffles
A group of Dallas musicians is using heartbreak to help others. This Wednesday, Nov. 9, Sarah Johnson will spearhead Heartbreak Heroes, during which she and several other local artists will perform their breakup songs at Adair’s Saloon.

Proceeds from the concert will benefit Porter’s Call, an organization committed to providing mental health care and resources specifically to musicians.

“I know I'm not the only one that's written a song or two about heartbreak, so I figured everyone would at least have that in their repertoire,” says Johnson. “Adding the element of supporting Porter’s Call and to do it for good cause — raising awareness for mental health for musicians and the resources that are out there to help them — I felt like this would be a good idea.”

The concert comes in tandem with Johnson’s new EP, Stages, which will be released on the same day. The EP’s three tracks tell the story of a breakup Johnson went through recently. While she's been writing and recording several songs over the past two years, Johnson wanted these songs to have a home of their own so she could release the energy before finishing her next project.

“I wanted to have a fresh start with my debut album,” Johnson says of her upcoming release, due early next year, “but also honor the songs that I wrote that could possibly help or relate to other people. I guess just with the songs being of the same topic, I'm kind of owning it and saying, ‘Hey, these are my breakup songs. They're all on one project. And I'm moving on.’”

Ahead of the EP, she has released “Highway Robbery,” which has already received much radio play on KXT 91.7. On the country-influenced, guitar-driven cut, Johnson expresses the sorrow of feeling betrayed by a man.

“This is highway robbery, what you did to me," she sings. "You took my love, you took my time so carelessly. Like a thief in the night, you disappeared without a fight, only left me with broken memories."

According to Johnson, this song is “the best one to jam to” of the three, as the other two are more forlorn in nature.

“You might not even realize it. ‘Highway Robbery’ is a bit of a sad song because it has such a fun beat,” Johnson says.

When planning the lineup for the concert, Johnson reached out to several musicians, and she says nearly all of them said yes.

“It's really just a reflection of the D/FW community and music scene just supporting each other and coming out and being a part of our whole music movement," Johnson says.

“It's really just a reflection of the DFW community and music scene just supporting each other and coming out and being a part of our whole music movement." – Sarah Johnson

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Joining Johnson at Heartbreak Heroes is Jenna Clark, who immediately signed on to perform at the concert when Johnson shared the details of her EP.

“The cause was just a bonus,” Clark says.

Johnson first heard of Porter’s Call as she was living between Nashville and Dallas. She says she has utilized the nonprofit's services in the past and is grateful that the organization understands the mental health needs of musicians.

Also on the Heartbreak Heroes roster is country artist Cory Cross, who says he was drawn to perform on the bill given Johnson’s songwriting, but was further intrigued after learning more about Porter’s Call.

“Personally, I’ve had struggles with addiction and mental health issues as a full-time musician and having access to professional treatment was crucial,” says Cross. “Thankfully, I had access to this on my own, but I know there are others in music that might think it isn’t possible without money or insurance, so thank God for groups like Porter’s Call.”

Dev Wulf, who will also be performing at Heartbreak Heroes, praises Johnson for her initiative and for raising awareness about the mental health of musicians.

“It’s encouraging to know there’s someone who’s taken it upon themselves to help a community where mental health is easily masked and overlooked,” says Wulf.

Heartbreak Heroes starts at 7:30 p.m on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at Adair's Saloon, 2624 Commerce St. Tickets are $10 at the door.
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Alex Gonzalez has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2018. He is a Dallas native whose work has appeared in Local Profile, MTV News and the Austin American-Statesman. He has eclectic taste in music and enjoys writing about art, food and culture.
Contact: Alex Gonzalez

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