Raised where wild huckleberries grow, Sara originally hails from Sumner, Washington – a tulip-farming town southeast of Seattle. She grew up riding in her Dad’s seaplane and on the back of his motorcycle. Her mother raised a trio of women and a son, and gave each of them a strong backbone and sense of self.
She is a modern-day June Carter with the lyrical sense of Dolly Parton. With strong roots in classic country, bluegrass and classic rock, she falls firmly under the genre of Americana. Sara's inspiration for songwriting comes from fond memories of home and her many travels throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Western and Eastern Europe.
Sara is the 2006 Portland Songwriting Contest's Grand Prize Winner with her song Coming Home. This song is also featured in the recently released Country album in Europe (other artist on the album are: Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Lucinda Williams and more) and Shut Eye Records, The United States of Americana compilation album. Her songwriting has earned her honorable mentions in the American Songwriter Magazine, the 2006 West Coast Songwriter's Competition, and the Great American Songwriter's Competition. She was a semi finalist with both her songs Coming Home and Shine Some Heaven in the 2005 International Songwriting Competition and one out of five finalists in the Great Waters Folk Festival Song Contest.
Sara has been playing clubs, venues, festivals, house concerts, pubs, dive bars and grocery stores from San Diego to Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Arizona, Nashville, Mississippi and Europe. She is currently finishing her third European tour. She has opened for great acts such as Todd Snider, Shooter Jennings, Steve Poltz, Ralph Stanley, Lance Miller and Bert Jansch. Influences include: Dolly Parton, Steve Earle, Shelby Lynne, Todd Snider, Hank Williams, the Beatles, John Mellencamp, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.
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Lead the Parade REVIEW from San Diego Troubadour
Written by Darcy Lewis
Sara Petite is a phony, but as Truman Capote might add, "She isn't a phony because she's a real phony." Listening to a Sara Petite album, even seeing Petite live, one imagines the small southern town that let her slip out to California, most likely on a Greyhound bus, while her tearful Mama looked on. However, Petite does not hail from the deep South as her voice and style would lead a listener to believe. Instead, Petite draws on a lifetime of small town experiences while hinting at a more mysterious, worldly knowledge to create distinctive musical gems. While most singers in the early stages of their careers lack differentiation in their songs, the tracks on Petite's new CD, Lead the Parade, stand apart. Though her unique voice and the trademark sound of her accompanying musicians create a common thread between songs, the themes and melodies of each tune make them immediately recognizable and striking.
Still, Petite extends some of the timeless motifs introduced by Tiger Mountain, her debut CD. The song "Heaven Bound" revisits the idea of resigning oneself to the ephemeral love offered up by cowboys and wanderers, a theme previously touched upon with "Gypsy Friend." Both songs come at listeners as if Petite were an older sister or best girlfriend sharing the devastating beauty of her latest heartache. Similarly, "Coming on Strong" is a girlish confession of a reckless love. While the track "Buy Me a Ticket" captures the notion of a small town girl taking flight, it seems less like an autobiography, introducing a person tired of the mountain life in a coal town. The lullaby quality of both "Little Girl" and "Shine Some Heaven" leaves listeners feeling comfortably mothered by Petite. This CD is a family tribute, much like the title track of her first album. However, it too is told through the eyes of someone who has long known she was destined to "lead the parade" but must wait ‘til death to do it.
Lead the Parade is not simply an extension of Tiger Mountain. It introduces an edgier side of Petite with the haunting "Dead Man Walking" and the rollicking "Paris Incident," with its thumping drums and knifing fiddle. Though more rockabilly in nature, "Six Smiles" is also danceable. In addition, this album presents Petite's comedic side with "Uncle Irving" and "Little House." The final track, "Moonshine," also produces smiles as Petite tells the tale of Aunt Mary's moon shining between guitar licks reminiscent of those in Commander Cody's "Hot Rod Lincoln."
In addition to sharing thematic ideas, Lead the Parade reflects Tiger Mountain by illustrating Petite's ability to jump between a sultry rock star and a wide-eyed country girl, a transformation that allows her audiences to transform as well. Listeners who find themselves drawn in by the poetic beauty and seductive nature of "The Secret" are able to smile along with Petite when she switches to her bubbly twang on a song like "Little House," a comic description of living in a place so small, "you can't even let your belly hang out." Petite's self-awareness and acknowledgement of the super saccharine nature of some of her songs allow listeners to indulge in the silliness of these numbers while still respecting the authentic truths introduced by her more serious songs. This duality allows Petite to be the kind of rocker that defines newgrass as well as the half-comedienne, half-singer type introduced by women like Minnie Pearl, Loretta Lynn, and the members of the Dixie Chicks. For this reason, Petite's style may very well be labeled bittersweet, a phrase she uses often in her songs. It is this duality that makes Petite so accessible, and so popular, even with the most eclectic of audiences.