Written By Kelly Holm
Like many people, singer-songwriter Sarah Packiam didn’t much care for her teenage years. “I lived in fear of bullies,” the now-36-year-old recalls. “Afraid to walk home on certain roads alone, I would spend most of my time in my childhood bedroom hiding from the world and creating my own stories.”
Those stories morphed into lyrics and melodies, and it was then that Packiam realized that music would be her lifelong passion.
“Since then, music has been my escape and my medicine,” Packiam said.
Born and raised in Ireland and later finding her way to Miami, one of Packiam’s latest tracks, “She’s A Riot,” speaks volumes alongside current messages of today’s female empowerment. For example, the record-breaking numbers of women seeking the presidency and serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. The music video, set in black-and-white, alternates between footage of Packiam performing the track while playing on her guitar, and snapshots of iconic female leaders in a plethora of professions, from Margaret Thatcher to Amy Winehouse to Malala Yousafzai. “Astronauts found their way to the moon/ But can they find a passage back to the womb,” she coolly utters in the song’s bridge.
“Love Yourself,” another recent release, claims its inspiration from the trying years that ignited Packiam’s pursuit of music in the first place.
“I feel totally naked,” Packiam says of the emotions from the stripped-down track and touches on the fact that there is no backing guitar, mandolin or piano. “It’s just me and my harmonica,” she says. The song dwells on themes of looking for comfort in the midst of isolation, with the tagline, “You can’t love until you love yourself.”
“It flowed out of me like it was a beautiful mistake between working on other songs,” she said.
A beautiful mistake, after all, was what led to Packiam’s first live performance. When the lead singer of her Dad’s band couldn’t make a New Year’s Eve gig, the 12-year-old Packiam was called up to sing.
“A real dive into the deep end,” is how she paraphrases that experience.
Since then, it has been nothing but taking risks and dives into the deep end in her mission to “save the music from cookie cutters.”
“Sparks In The Current,” she says, takes her into a “higher state” no matter how many times she performs it, while “Love Yourself” is the most instrumentally vulnerable she’s ever been. But, it’s “Goodbye Lonely Me,” that strikes a personal chord with Packiam after learning that it was deemed “THE” love song of a couple who met the night they watched her perform it at a show.
“I’m always so honored that people have taken the time to come out and hear me at my shows, and I want to give them my best,” Packiam said. “I hope that when people listen to my music, they can feel my honesty.”
She gave credit to Sofar Sounds, a music events startup company that gives platforms to artists across the globe. Through Sofar, Packiam has had plenty of opportunities to play at unconventional venues, such as a rundown, candlelit house in Quito, Ecuador.
“I would advise artists to check out Sofar Sounds when they travel, even on vacation,” she said.
Her next single, name yet to be released, will pay homage to her half-Indian roots, and next year, she hopes, she will be able to play festivals throughout Europe and return to the Emerald Isle. Collaborating with Stevie Wonder is a longtime dream, too. “I wonder what writing with him would be like,” she says, “As a blind man, it’s as though he can see more.”
Regardless of how long the fulfillment of these goals take, Packiam assures fans that she isn’t going away anytime soon.
“My music has truly become a path of my feelings. Insecurities and all,” she says, “I have a lot more music in the pipeline.”
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