Sarah Bernadette is a New Jersey-born singer-songwriter whose music fuses pop, jazz, and R&B influences to create a unique sound. She has her master’s degree from New England Conservatory in Contemporary Improvisation (’21) and her Bachelor of Music in Songwriting and Voice Performance from Berklee College of Music ('18).
Her music is deeply personal; through her writing and her performances, she hopes to form meaningful connections with her audience and listeners. She is an expressive performer and improviser with a love for jazz voice.
Sarah has worked with Kathleen Flynn, Dominique Eade, Cristi Catt, and more recently Grammy-winner Cecile McLorin Salvant, whom she considers one of her biggest musical inspirations.
You can find Sarah Bernadette’s music on all streaming services, including her most recent releases: “in/process” and her debut album, “New Leaves”. Stay tuned for her new EP, "sad poems on my phone", coming February 13, 2023.
Q&A w/ Sarah Bernadette
Q: How early was music a significant part of your life and in what capacity?
A: "Basically as early as I can remember there has been music in my life. My siblings both played instruments—they’re 9 and 11 year’s older than me—and that made me want to start too, so I started piano lessons at five and then violin at seven. My siblings both liked to sing and my mom used to sing to me a lot when I was very young before sleeping, and as early as I can remember I’ve loved to sing too. My first album was Christina Aguilera’s debut album when I was four years old, which I still have memorized to this day. I joined my first choir when I was seven when I joined the NJ Youth Chorus, and I’ve basically always been in choir or some kind of singing group since then."
Q: Who was your first musical influence?
A: "Other than my siblings who inspired me to take piano and violin lessons, my first musical influence was probably Elvis Presley. I listened to his music with my dad in the car all the time and I loved his music so much. As a writer, I think my first influence was Jason Mraz because that’s basically all i listened to when I was twelve, but Elvis held the key to my heart till I turned 10-11.
Honestly, he still kind of does."
Q: When did you realize this was something you wanted to become serious about?
A: "As a kid when people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I always would answer with some type of performer, at least one of them being a singer. As I got older and really started to have to think about my future, nothing really changed. I have always wanted to be involved with music in my career, it was just a matter of figuring out if I thought I could be good enough (a lot of which is just perseverance and having supportive family)."
Q: Has your approach to writing music changed from the time you started writing?
A: "I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve stopped trying to be too subtle with my writing. I used to worry about being cliché so much that I would get lost in a mess of figurative language, trying too hard to be unpredictable. I’ve learned to be okay with simplicity and to, above all, focus on honesty. I’ve also been trying to write from perspectives that aren’t just mine, even writing from alternative versions of myself just to expand my imagination."
Q: Do you have any non-musical interests or experiences that have influenced your writing style?
A: "I've always loved the Spanish language, and have taken time to study it beyond my AP Spanish class in high school, including an intensive program on the language. Obviously this has musical connections because there are so many rich, beautiful Latin American and Spanish musical traditions, but beyond that I think that just learning another language can make you more aware of your native language. Loving another language can enrich your appreciation and ability to create with your own. I’ve also written a few songs in Spanish, but more to come on that."
Q: What is the best compliment you can receive as a musician and songwriter?
A: "The best compliment I can receive as a musician and a writer is that my music or performance made someone cry, or moved them emotionally in some way. It’s not that I need people bawling during my shows, but to me the main purpose of music is forming a connection with other people, and you connect with people through emotion. If someone gets choked up or moved from my music—even just one person—I’m doing something right."