by Mike Telin
On Saturday, August 3, Mt. Vernon, Ohio based singer-songwriter Sarah Goslee Reed returns to her hometown along with her Firefly Band for a performance beginning at 7:00 pm in the Alma Theatre at Cain Park. The concert is part of Cain Park’s Full Folk Saturday’s series.
Sarah Goslee Reed grew up surrounded by music. Her father, the late George Goslee, served as principal bassoonist of The Cleveland Orchestra from 1943 until 1988 and her mother played cello and bass. And although she says that “classical music is in my bones,” from an early age Sarah has always had a love for folk music. Even while pursuing her undergraduate degree in microbiology from Miami University of Ohio and a graduate degree in the same field from the University of Akron, singing and writing songs has always been a part of her life. “I’m a strange, sciencey sort of person but I think that fuels me with interesting things to write about,” she jokes.
In addition to performing at venues and festivals throughout Ohio, Sarah Goslee Reed is a dedicated music educator and can often be found giving concerts and leading workshops for kids into which she ingeniously interweaves her love of music with her love of the earth sciences. This summer she launched Summer Music Garden Concert Series at the Knox County Children’s Garden.
We reached the thoroughly delightful Sarah Goslee Reed by telephone at her home in Mt. Vernon.
Mike Telin Thanks so much for talking. What can people expect at your Cain Park show?
Sarah Goslee Reed: It’ll be with my Firefly Band. Tom Martin, the bass and piano player went to the Cleveland Institute of Music. He knew my dad so that was very cool when I met him at a recording studio in Columbus. And a local fellow from Mt. Vernon, Skip Trask, will be on drums. It’s just the three of us but we have a lot of fun.
We’ll be doing a good number of my tunes, mostly from the new CD, along with songs by Emmy Lou Harris, and an Adam Young of Owl City song called Fireflies — and I have a song called Fireflies so we’re keeping with the Firefly theme. There will be something by Iris DeMent, as well as others.
Mike Telin: I’ve listened to a few of the tracks from your new CD, Plenty, and they’re absolutely beautiful.
SGR: Thank you!
MT: I know that you have always been attracted to folk music but I’m not sure how it all began.
SGR: There were two things that really locked me into what I do now. One was the Hootenanny television show. It was on Saturday night when my parents were at Cleveland Orchestra concerts. My mom always went on Saturday and obviously dad had to go, so my sister and I would stay home and watch the Hootenanny show. I remember being moved by Judy Collins. So it was that and the Beatles. But I think classical music is in my bones and it really drives me because I have a melodic soul and I think it’s evident in my recordings. I like good strong melodies.
MT: Am I correct that you just started playing guitar and singing on your own?
SGR: Yeah! My first infamous gig was at my 8th grade talent show. It’s a funny story – I played guitar for three girls who wanted to sing Blowin’ in the Wind. We went on stage, I sat on a chair and three stood behind me. We started, and out of the corner of my eye I saw this figure fly off the stage – I looked behind me and yes, one of the girls had gotten stage fright and left. So I thought OK, I’ll just sing her part, so I started singing and then the domino effect happened and the other two girls also left. They were all gone so I just kept singing although I did not really know the lyrics — it wasn’t my job, I was only suppose to play guitar. So I sang as much as I could remember and I’m not sure if I actually ended it or if I just stopped. But to this day I cannot sing that song without the words in front of me. That was my very first [public] performance and it’s amazing that it didn’t do me in for the rest of my life.
MT: That is hysterical. When did you start writing your own songs?
SGR: I think I was in college. When I was in high school, the orchestra and choir met at the same time and since I played the violin and I was told that I could not drop orchestra, I was never able to be in choir, which bummed me out. So when I went to college was when I really started singing.
During freshman year my next-door neighbor had a guitar and we quickly discovered that we liked to sing together. And during the entire year, when I wasn’t studying I spent the rest of my time with her singing. We had so much fun and that is when I really learned to sing harmony. It was sometime during this period that I started writing songs. You know, you have your first bad love experience and then of course, you have to write a song.
MT: I’m happy you brought this up because what I like about your music is that it is so melodic and the lyrics are very heartfelt, but I never feel like I am in a therapy session.
SGR: I do like metaphors and I don’t want to write the same song over and over again about a horrible relationship. There just doesn’t seem to be a point to that because there a few more interesting things in life.
Another thing I dislike, especially with children’s musicians — and I do a lot of shows with and for kids — but I dislike songs that are really preachy. I don’t like to sing songs that say you should do this instead of that. I’d rather cloak my lesson in a metaphor. [laughing] But I’m happy you don’t feel like you’re in a therapy session.
MT: For the most part, you sing your own material.
SGR: I used to sing other people’s songs but over the past twenty years I have been singing mostly my own. I’m always amazed how many songs I have written. I always think it has not been that many but then I look at the list.
Now with my band, we do perform other people’s material as well, which I think is a healthy thing to do. And one thing I have always liked doing are songs that people don’t get to hear that often. I don’t really like doing big hits because you hear them all the time.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com July 30, 2013
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