Sarah Tolar’s album, Big Blue Moon, gracefully traverses genre by blending her many influences and offering up a record that is both contemporary and timeless. Her jazz leanings infuse style and soul into warm melodies and poignant lyrics, and bring thoughtful musicality to modern songwriting.
Sarah was born into a musical family with professional singers as parents. Though her early influences included mainly folk music, Sarah eventually went on to earn a Masters of Jazz Studies at the University of North Texas. During that time, Sarah was awarded the Downbeat Award for best college female jazz singer. However, her passion for songwriting was not to be ignored. Sarah left Texas and moved to New York City to pursue her career as an original artist. Since that time, Sarah has performed for audiences in New York, Florida, Texas, and California and China and recently opened for five-time Grammy winner Christopher Cross in Washington, DC.
Sarah officially released Big Blue Moon in April 2009. The album, produced by David Cook, features some of New York’s most talented musicians who, when not playing with Sarah, may be found sharing the stage with Harry Connick Jr, Diana Krall, Natasha Bedingfield, Jennifer Hudson, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, and Cassandra Wilson.
Big Blue Moon tells the story that any debut album might, but in a way you haven’t heard it before. Like the aptly-titled first single from the release, Sarah invites listeners to come “Along for the Ride”, taking them through her own personal journey both musically and lyrically, and delivering an album that crosses traditional genre boundaries to engage jazz, pop, and folk listeners alike.
I was raised on folk songwriters. My parents played guitar and sang – Dad sang Kris Kristofferson & Johnny Cash while Mom sang Judy Collins & Carole King. They played gigs together in northern Colorado, and I started sitting-in with them when I was 5 years old.
We moved to southern California when I was 10, and Dad began teaching me a few chords on the piano. I started writing songs. After high school, a friend of mine gave me my first jazz record, and I soon found myself at The University of North Texas.
I studied jazz for several years at UNT and then moved to New York City. My first gig was playing piano and singing a weekly gig at a restaurant in lower Manhattan. It was there that I added my original songs to the sets and soon, people began requesting my songs. I moved from the restaurant gig to leading my own band and playing with some of the most talented and beautiful musicians in New York.
Today, I am a southwestern girl living in Brooklyn – somewhat displaced but continuously inspired by the big city – and this gives me lots to write about. Equally as inspiring are the loads of amazing musicians that keep New York the music mecca that it is.
The culmination of my journey thus far (from being born into folk-country music, studying jazz, and performing in New York City) is my first album, BIG BLUE MOON.
My partner in the project is pianist and producer David Cook (Natasha Bedingfield, Jennifer Hudson). We recorded 10 of my original songs written over the last six years. The album features a group of New York’s finest young musicians, and was recorded at the Systems Two in Brooklyn and mixed at Avatar Studios in Manhattan.
My songs are snapshots that share the journey of my life so far. The music I write is a little bit jazz, a little bit folk, but all original. Thank you for listening.