Meeting Sara Hickman
by Jimmy Patterson
SAN ANGELO — Shortly after I met my wife, she told me stories of how she and her sister had grown up in Southwest Houston with a girl who she said was far more creative than the other kids on the block. The girl, Karen told me, had gone on to achieve a modest amount of pop star success. I admit I hadn’t heard of the woman at that point in my life, but would come to know her, as would others, in the 1980s.
Her name was (and still is, actually) Sara Hickman. Sara didn’t achieve the mega-stardom that would properly justify her considerable talent as a song-smith, vocalist extraordinaire and performer, but you get the impression when talking to her that didn’t put the skids on what is obviously a joy-filled life. Sara’s voice is exquisite, capable of acting alone, carrying a church sanctuary or a concert hall without aid of instrumentation. With the best of them she can bend all the right notes at all the right times, wrapping her nimble cords around melodies in a wide array of octaves. Her range is impressive, her passion for her craft infectious. If we can make superstars out of the likes of some of the people we have crowned in the last 20 years while talents like Sara Hickman are left behind, relatively speaking, we should seriously reconsider what we fancy entertainment.
It’s not as if Sara has had zero recognition. She toured with the late Dan Fogelberg and rode a brief wave of media attention with her still memorable, hummable, “I Couldn’t Help Myself.” She’s had some fine albums, “Shortstop” “Equal Scary People” and 2006’s “Motherlode” among them. Based in Austin today, Sara has a new passion: she is in the middle of a 12-month tour of Texas to join with others in a dialogue about capital punishment. With the help of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Dealth Penalty and its founder, Bob Van Steenburg, the two will bring the year-long tour to a close in Austin in October. Their appearances are a time of peaceful, open and frank conversation and song, bringing awareness to Texas’ rampant penchant for execution. I recently commented to Bob how massive an undertaking he and the others in the tour had undertaken. “Yes,” he said. “But I’m right!”
Sara and Bob, along with talented San Angelo-based singer-songwriter Cindy Jordan, brought the tour to San Angelo Wednesday night
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Sara. Or hugging her about four times (Sara’s a hugger). She painted revealing word pictures through her song and voice, and shared with the 200 or so in attendance her intimate emotive expressions on love, life and death through lyric.
Sara’s most poignant moment came during a song she wrote called “The One,” a heart-wrenching story told through the eyes of the mother of the Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho. Almost three hours after opening the evening with her beautiful a cappella, “It’s OK,” Sara closed with “We Are Each Other’s Angels,” one of the most uplifting and hope-filled songs I’ve had the pleasure to clap along with recently.
(Watch Sara singing both “The One” and “Each Other’s Angels.” last night in San Angelo.)
Thanks, Sara, for sharing your talent with West Texas.