Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
When we wake up to a beautiful day with the sun shining, it’s easier to focus on the positive things in our lives. “You have the option to look at your life and see the good,” says Sara Haze, explaining the title to her new album My Personal Sky. The line comes from her song “Beautiful Day” in which she states she’s “already been through the rain” and now there’s “not a cloud” in her “personal sky.” While that’s where she may have ended up, this sun-bleached blonde Southern California girl explores the whole journey through her music.
Releasing her first major album at the age of 19 has been a long time coming for this songstress, writing fan favorites like “Lovely” and “My Own Hands To Hold” years earlier. Wise beyond her age, Sara writes about growing up in the modern teenage world in a way that connects. “When one of my songs touches someone it means the world to me,” exclaims Sara who’s had over 30 songs placed in films and television shows.
Wanting to be just like her vocalist mother, Sara was singing for crowds by age five. Her self-proclaimed big break came at the young age of 12 when she answered an ad to cut vocals for a song that needed “a girl with soul.” Expecting an adult to match the voice, industry veteran Dave Woeckener was shocked when the 12-year-old arrived at his beachfront studio proudly dressed to the nines with her parents in tow.
Nailing the vocals in only 30 minutes, Sara made an impression. “I was floored,” says Woeckener. The song was used in television placements 20 times in four years including The Young and the Restless. Woeckener hired Sara for more demos and, at the age of 15, signed her to a management contract. “Many of my colleagues looked at me strangely,” Woeckener says of signing the young talent. “We did a showcase and when Sara sang the whole room went silent. Nobody looked at me strangely anymore.”
Sara impressed industry executives everywhere she went including PEN Music Group President Michael Eames, APA Executive Vice President Troy Blakely and former ASCAP Senior Vice President of Creative John Alexander who invited her to perform at Canadian Music Week (CMW). “Sara came to my office and I asked her why she was there,” Alexander describes. “She closed the door and sang a couple of songs. Then I knew why she was there and that I wanted to be involved with this talented songwriter/artist.” At CMW, Sara was joined on-stage by GRAMMY® Award Winning Producer Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews, No Doubt) who performed one of her songs with her.
More invitations came taking Sara to South By Southwest (SXSW) as a headlining act and the international music festival Popkomm in Berlin. Quickly she caught the attention of Ted Cohen, considered one of the foremost authorities on entertainment and technology and a 30 year music industry veteran. In his early career, Cohen developed artists including Prince, Van Halen, Fleetwood Mac and Al Jarreau. “Working with another artist is the last thing I thought I’d do until I saw Sara,” says Cohen. “She is not only really talented, she is dedicated.”
Although Sara is surrounded by industry giants with everyone from Randy Jackson to Gene Simmons consulting on her music, it’s Sara herself running the show. Most notably, Sara is writing the music. Collaborating with Nashville songwriter James T. Slater (“In My Daughter’s Eyes” for Martina McBride), Canadian writer/producer Justin Gray and writer/producer Eric Fraley, Sara’s album has a personal touch that makes the listener wonder if Sara hasn’t written the songs just for them.
In the rock anthem “Melt Into You” Sara describes an emotional reunion with her boyfriend after being apart for three weeks. “I ran outside and gave him the biggest hug. The best hug I’ve ever had,” says Sara. “I started crying and we just held each other. That moment only lasted for five minutes, but I will always remember it.”
Fans of MTV’s reality phenomenon The Hills responded en masse with over 300,000 hits on Sara’s MySpace page when her song “My Own Hands To Hold” was used to illustrate a scene depicting a rocky relationship. Sara sings “you’re bringing me down” in the chorus, describing a relationship gone bad. With piano-driven chords and a haunting melody line, this song speaks to anyone who didn’t get a storybook ending to a relationship.
Despite the mass response from the The Hills, Sara says her song getting the biggest reaction is “Lovely.” With a simple message of “I feel lovely just the way that I am,” “Lovely” has become the anthem for girls who at some point have felt inadequate. “People should always be appreciated for their unique qualities that make them exactly who they are,” says Sara who wrote the song after countless meetings with record executives that each had their opinion on who she should be.
Another song that speaks to every listener is the one Sara calls her baby. “Every Heart” describes all of the small moments from Sara’s life that make her who she is. “However, it’s those same experiences that make us able to relate to each other,” says Sara. The song begins with just Sara singing at the piano and moves into a full string orchestra as she sings lines like, “a summer sun burn,” “bit by a dog,” “mesmerized by Christmas lights,” “getting too old for the Batman cape,” “the times you laughed so hard you cried,” “your best friend and your first kiss.”
After living through all the trials of her teenage experience, it’s the positive memories Sara embraces today. But she certainly hasn’t forgotten the hardships we share like breaking up with a boyfriend or a loved one moving away, or what it takes to move forward like standing up for yourself and making hard choices. Sara hasn’t been afraid to sing about any of it and share her experiences with fans. In the end, it’s all about perspective for Sara. “This world can be full of hardship and pain,” she says knowingly, “but if you go through these things you’ll appreciate what you have and be able to see all the good in the world.” And that might just be the start of a beautiful day in your own personal sky.