Sarah Hart has long been one of my absolute favorite singer-songwriters. She is one of Catholic music’s most talented artists and she has been a songwriter for some of contemporary Christian music’s biggest hits (eg. Amy Grant’s “Better Than a Hallelujah”). Her honest lyrics, country-influenced musical style and her beautifully delicate vocals serve the songs well on her latest offering, as the songs talk about deep sorrow and the ability to still see and reach out to God in spite of the pain. “Above Earth’s Lamentation” starts beautifully with “How Can I keep from Singing.” The songs “Praying With a Broken Heart” and “Better Things” sings to the heart of anyone who needs a song that comforts without downplaying the pain that comes with loss. The Christian music scene has often been accused of being all sugar and spice, but Hart’s album shows that there are artists who are creating relevant art that speaks to all the harsh realities that strike even devout believers.
Sarah graciously agreed to answer some questions and I am delighted to share them with my readers. Please also check out Sarah’s new album by clicking here for iTunes or here for a physical copy of the CD.
Dave: Your new album is about sorrow. It seems like the past two years for you have been particularly painful. It is interesting that you haven’t disclosed the particular events that caused you so much suffering. Was this so that the songs could impact a broader audience by not giving your grief a context for the listener?
Sarah: In part, but also because some of these things are still too close, too hard to talk about. I guess it’s also true that art is also best observed through the lens of newness… so it seems unnecessary to “explain” the songs or how they came to be always. To let the listener perceive what they will, how they will, is a welcome thing.
Dave: It seems that many artists seem to want to avoid hard questions about their faith in the current contemporary Christian music scene. Do you feel that the industry needs to explore the fullness of the Christian spiritual journey, with all its bumps and bruises?
Sarah: I do. I also, however, think there are a LOT of artists out there doing just that. You may never hear them over the airwaves, but they are doing great things, exploring meaningful subject matter with honesty and poetry. Worth seeking out!
Dave: It seems like there is new openness to Catholic artists, such as Matt Maher and Audrey Assad, because they seem to bring a dimension to the lyrics which our Evangelical brethren are often missing. For example, the Sacraments, the concept of suffering and the role of the Saints. How do Catholic artists continue to foster this?
Sarah: I think the best way to foster it is not to bring attention to it; but rather, just to do it. Writers who are Catholic will write from that perspective; and some who are not Catholic will respond to it for whatever reason. Writing needs only to be honest, and people will be attracted to it.
Dave: There seems to be a real crisis within the music industry, both secular and Christian, with the listening audience more and more expecting their music to be free and accessible through downloads. How do you survive as an independent artist, one of the few who seem to be making a comfortable living doing what they love?
Sarah: WOW! Big question…I survive personally by being on the road a lot, being open and willing to write for things that may be outside of my comfort zone, and being open to work in new mediums and in new ways. I also survive simply because I am compelled to do music; I can’t help myself. Even if I made little to no living, I still think I would do it. But let’s hope that is NOT where we are headed in general!
Dave: I consider you to be a mentor to many Catholic artists, although perhaps reluctantly so as I know how humble you are. What would you say to the new generation of musicians who want to make their mark on the world for Christ? There is no longer the vast support network there once was when Christian music was so popular.
Sarah: HONESTY. That is the only word today’s young writers and musicians need to know. Be true to yourself. There’s nothing worse than hearing something contrived, or something that is trying too hard to be like everything else out there. Be true to your vision; read, think, pray, agonize over lyrics. But for heavens sake, keep honesty at the forefront.