The Art of Living
Singer-songwriter Sara Hickman celebrates everyday life Friday at Neighborhood Church
Taking the easy route is not Sara Hickman’s natural MO. Informed she had been chosen to succeed Willie Nelson as State Musician of Texas for 2010-11, she excitedly inquired what her responsibilities would be — only to be told the post was ceremonial. Wrong answer.
“‘You don’t get a tiara, you don’t get any money, you just enjoy it and you’ll be in the history books,’” she recalls of her blasé instructions. Her response: “Oh, no, no, no, I would like to be proactive with this moniker and do something good for the children of Texas.”
The title presented a meaningful opportunity to the enterprising mom of two, who credits her parents with “making me realize that art is something you can be, and not something you have to wait and make time to do.” Under the slogan “Families that create together do great together,” she and her Family Time Rocks band have played festivals and libraries throughout Texas, and are preparing to release a CD of songs and poetry, including that of state Poet Laureate Karla Morton, that Hickman says will be “a free download to the world.”
She’s also overseeing production of “Best of Times,” an anthology of her songs performed by other Texas musicians — including Willie Nelson, Marcia Ball, Shawn Colvin, Edie Brickell, David Garza and Jimmy LaFave — that will benefit two nonprofits that take art programs into schools. “It’s really important that children be able to learn how to express themselves,” she says. “If you don’t learn that in childhood it’s very difficult to feel free to express yourself as an adult.”
Hickman, who writes songs primarily geared toward adults but has also expanded into recording children’s music, expresses herself with charm and humor. Since leaving Elektra in the mid-1990s, she’s become something of a self-sustaining cottage industry, staying active as a public speaker and releasing her music independently — first through Shanachie, and over the past decade through her own Sleeveless label. Her newest album, “Absence of Blame,” is a 13-track examination of sorrow and redemption that looks at “how we judge people.” She’s promoting it with a concert at Neighborhood Church Friday night.
“You know how people say ‘diversify your investments’? I think you should diversify your life and your creativity,” she explains. “The more you diversify and the stronger you grow in different classifications, the more gifts come forward and present themselves to you. But also it strengthens the gifts you already have. Doing speaking engagements has helped me with my live stage performances, and my live stage performances have helped me with my children’s shows, and my children’s shows have helped me when I do music therapy. It’s a big circle.”
Sara Hickman headlines and Dave Morrison opens at Neighborhood Church, 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena, 7:30 p.m. Friday. Admission is $20. For reservations, call (213) 219-2449. sarahickman.com