Sara Spicer’s road to Nashville was filled with tragedy, but the singer from Delaware County, Pennsylvania, persevered. The story of how I discovered Sara is worth telling. One evening, as I walked down 5th Avenue, I heard this incredible voice coming from the Assembly Food Hall at 5th & Broadway. However, when I got to the stage, there was no woman on stage. I overheard someone introducing herself as Sara, but I thought nothing of it. When I came across Sara Spicer on Instagram, it was the same woman, so I messaged her. She confirmed she had been singing that night. We would eventually meet at The Round Downtown. When she announced her latest single, “Proud,” I knew I wanted to interview Sara Spicer and tell her story. Her story is emotional and powerful but also empowering.
Sara Spicer: The Musical Beginning
From the beginning, it seemed Sara Spicer was destined to be a singer. If she never pursued it, it would have been a shame. Thankfully, her father encouraged her. Spicer said, “Growing up, I split time between my mom and dad. My mother was a good singer too, but she never did it professionally. My dad was also a musician. He played in a few rock bands when I was younger, but he switched to country, which is how I was introduced to country music. When he did a show, he would bring me on stage. I would stand on stage without moving. It was like I was a twig standing up there. Besides “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” the first song I learned was “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
It was Sara’s father that recognized her ability to sing at a very young age. Spicer said, “I have a video of me at four years old sitting on a stool watching “The Wizard of Oz.” My dad said I was falling asleep and singing perfectly on key to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and that’s when he knew I would be a singer. He started me young, and the first big thing I got to do, was open for Tanya Tucker when I was twelve years old. However, at the time, I didn’t realize what a queen she was. I wish I could have that experience now.”
The Decision to Move to Nashville
Sara Spicer’s decision to move to Nashville seemed to have been an easy one, but it also came with encouragement from her father. The singer/songwriter said, “I moved to Nashville when I was twenty-three. I had a band at fifteen and played bars around my hometown, but I had done all I could do at home. Also, my dad kept pushing me to move to Nashville, but the final straw was realizing everything had come to a halt. I had dreams and passions at twenty-three, and I didn’t have time to spend it partying.”
Spicer was focused on what she wanted when many at that age are in college and having fun. That is an admirable trait, but that desire was ingrained into her. Spicer would meet someone who helped launch her career. Spicer said, “I met a woman named Heidi Hamels, who now owns a label called Twelve6. I was signed to her company for a couple of years. It was Heidi who began bringing me to Nashville to record, even before I moved here. We were in town every two weeks, so I moved. Now, I don’t want to leave.”
The Nashville Experience and Lessons Learned
Sara’s early time in Nashville could be a cautionary tale to other artists moving to town. Don’t rush into signing a contract with just anyone. Spicer said, “When I moved to town, I didn’t feel so alone because I had been coming into town for a while. Also, I knew a couple of people in town. When I got to town, I didn’t expect people to be so helpful. I have met so many women who have been nothing but helpful.”
Unfortunately, the music business is a tricky business, and some are looking to take advantage of you. The singer/songwriter said, “I had a bad management experience. I was naive to the industry’s business side, but they wouldn’t release me, so I had to wait until the end of the contract.” Even when you have a setback, it’s important to look for a silver lining, and Sara found hers. Spicer said, “I am doing things independently now, but I feel the most myself than I ever have. My work ethic is so much better since I am on my own.”
Sara Spicer on Songwriting
Sara Spicer has come a long way as a songwriter as she struggled with self-doubt. However, she kept writing and improving. Spicer said, “The first significant song I wrote while I was stuck in in-school suspension. My friend and I skipped class to play what we called Nancy Drew. The first song I wrote was about my mom, called “Heaven’s Gate.” However, I didn’t truly get started writing songs until I moved to Nashville.”
Over time, Spicer would gain confidence as a writer. Every songwriter I have interviewed has told me their songwriting improved after moving to Nashville. The singer/songwriter said, “It wasn’t until this past year or two of songwriting that I began to believe in myself as a writer. That comes with a lot of years of being insecure and not believing in myself. Most people have believed in me, but there were those few here or there who didn’t. The management I had, in the beginning, downplayed my songs. This was one reason I began trying to get released from the management contract.”
Learning to be a Performer
When you see Sara Spicer on stage, she is in her element. She owns the stage, so it isn’t easy to imagine her standing like a twig while performing when she was a little girl. Spicer said, “It was a progression to become the performer I am now. I worked with a vocal coach, Melissa Daley. Melissa began stage directing. She told me to apply my personality on stage. I have also acted since I was seven years old. If you put me in a role, I could perform, but when I was myself, I would get nervous. I was always worried about what people would think. Finally, I learned to say “F” it! Now, I am going to rock it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get nervous and almost piss myself before getting on stage.”
Most people who have performed on Broadway credited that experience with helping them learn to be better performers. Spicer said, “Playing on Broadway helped me learn how to move on stage and talk to a crowd. The main stage at Kid Rock’s being such a large stage helped a lot. It was an excellent platform for me to hone my performance skills, and it also helped me strengthen my voice. When you are playing that long, you must learn to take care of and improve your voice. If you are not singing correctly, you can ruin your voice.”
Sara Spicer releases “Proud”
Sara Spicer released her latest single, “Proud,” on May 19th. “Proud,” produced and mixed by Tyler Ross and Luke DeJaynes, is emotional and relatable, and the singer’s vocals are incredible. I listened to the single several times after leaving our interview, bringing tears to my eyes. The singer/songwriter said, “I wrote the song during quarantine, and I wanted to write something soulful about my mom. Usually, I don’t write titles first, but I wanted this to be about my story this time. It was also important to me to write a song to which others could relate. What’s the number one thing you wonder about those you have lost? Are you making them proud? I thought that’s it, the song is going to be called “Proud.”
The single is deeply personal to Spicer, and we will tell more of her story later but now let’s focus on the song. Spicer said, “I began with my childhood and how my dad said I looked like my mom and all the things she taught me before she died. Writing this song was therapy for me. It’s weird to have these emotions come back, but it’s normal when you revisit these memories. It was essential to talk about my dad in the song too. The last line of the song was initially in the bridge, but my boyfriend said that should be the last line since it was so powerful.
As a listener, this song hit me in the feels. It brought up my own experiences with losing loved ones and made me wonder if I have made them proud. Spicer said, “This song has hit home with so many people, and I have received so many great comments. That’s all I ever wanted. It was therapeutic and something I wanted to do for myself and my family. But, I also wanted it to help other people because all of us have experienced or will experience loss.”
Sara Spicer’s “Proud” came from Tremendous Loss
I feel honored that Sara Spicer shared her story with me. The events that lead to her song, “Proud,” are not something the singer/songwriter talks about, and I can relate to her hesitancy to speak about something so personal. Spicer said, “I will be releasing a video for the song soon. So, I want to partner with someone on suicide awareness when the video comes out because my mom died from suicide. My mom was bipolar, which I didn’t know when I was younger. She battled depression, anxiety, and OCD. Mom was on medication, but she stopped taking her medicine because it made her feel worse.”
Sara continued to recount the events of those few days. Sara said, “I remember we had gotten into a bit of fight the night before over my grandmother not wanting her over at the house. My grandmother and I had gotten into an argument, and I begged her not to tell mom, but she did. So, my mom was upset with me. I peeked into my mom’s room to apologize, and I saw her counting her prescribed pills on her bed like she did every night. I felt terrible that I had argued with grandma, and I remember wanting to walk in, but I didn’t. Something told me to give her some time and space. The following day, mom came in happy and apologized. Mom told me she loved me very much, she was going for a walk, and she would be right back. I remember a feeling of wanting to go with her, but I was in my pajamas, so I told her I would see her when she got home. I watched from my window as she walked down the driveway and walked away. She never came back.”
Coming to Terms with the Truth
Kids can be resilient, and we want to hope for the best. Spicer continued, “Mom’s fiance called the police to report her missing, but I wasn’t worried. I thought she would come back. We were putting up missing posters two or three days later, but I still thought it would be okay. My stepmom at the time picked me up and took me to the mall. I bought some baby blue high-top converse. It’s funny the things you remember. When we got back to my dad’s, my babysitter was sitting outside. My babysitter was usually one of the happiest people, but she was crying. Right then, it began to hit me. I walked into the house, and my dad was red as a tomato. He said, your mom, and broke down. It was at that moment I knew she had died. They found her up the street from where I had last seen her in an abandoned building. She had overdosed.”
After such a loss, it shapes the person you become. However, those lessons can be positive. Spicer said, “I feel like as I get older, it hits me harder because I understand the quality of life and mental health. I have dealt with anxiety, depression, and OCD in my life, but I feel like I handle it well. It helps me to be a therapist for other people. It’s like therapy for me to help others because I love helping people. While I am not perfect, every day I try and do the best I can.”
Fun Facts with Sara Spicer
Despite the tragedies Sara Spicer has lived through, she has become a remarkable person. Ironically, while at a show one night, she burped in my face. I asked her what’s next, burping the ABCs? Spicer said, “I actually can do that.”
Here are some more fun facts the singer/songwriter shared with me. She said, “I am creepily double-jointed. I wish people could see it, but maybe they shouldn’t. I have also been acting since I was seven years old. Musical theatre and short films are something I have done.” When you see Sara Spicer, you will see a beautiful woman, but she is a person of substance. Spicer continued, “I love MMA! I started doing MMA when I was nineteen. Even before that, my older brother taught me to defend myself. So, if I weren’t a singer or an actress, I would have wanted to be a professional MMA fighter.”
Sara Spicer has never wavered from her desire to be a singer, despite the hardships she has experienced. Losing a parent or sibling can change you positively or negatively. Fortunately, Spicer persevered and remembered the lessons her mom and dad taught her at a young age. Undiscovered Nashville believes Sara Spicer can be exceptional, using her music and her voice to impact others. If she continues to do that, it will be a life well-lived. I think we can speak for Sara when we say; I hope her story can help those affected by suicide. Please follow Sara Spicer on social media and listen to her music on Spotify or Apple Music.
**If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.