Interviews

Sari Schorr Interview: Embracing Gratitude After Album With Robin Trower Tops Blues Chart

Sari Schorr’s star is shining a bit brighter now that she’s added a No. 1 album on the Billboard Blues Chart to her resume. Now more than ever, she’s focusing on what she calls her “secret weapon”: gratitude.

“What is my goal? Just to make people happy,” Schorr told Blues Rock Review during a recent interview. “That’s it. It’s really simple. And you keep all the other stuff out. And you honor the work you do that way, and don’t attach expectations.”

Schorr was in Wales on a United Kingdom tour with the British rock band Sweet at the time of our phone call. When her collaboration album with Robin Trower, Joyful Sky, topped Billboard’s chart in early November, Schorr said she was excited to hit that mark but also recognized that not much, really, had changed.

“I was the exact same person. I was very grateful, but there was still a war going on. There are still hostages, there’s still people starving—all these things don’t go away,” she said.

Though the general assumption may be that reaching “a certain level of success” will “make things easier,” Schorr said that isn’t necessarily true. Schorr has been assessing what her own measurement of success is, and said it’s not the number of albums she sells or the performance fees she can charge. Those aren’t the things that transform how she feels when she’s performing. For that, all she really needs is to see the excitement on her fans’ faces when the lights dim and she starts to sing.

“Honestly, it’s what we can give to each other,” she said. “There’s no other way that I can give myself as purely as I can through music. And that is really what keeps me moving forward.”

Schorr began her career as a background singer in New York before joining forces with producer Mike Vernon to record her first solo album, 2016’s A Force of Nature. The soul-infused blues and rock singer released two other albums—her second solo album Never Say Never in 2018 and a live album in 2020—before Trower contacted her to gauge her interest in an idea he had for a new project.

Though Schorr usually writes her own material, she was a fan of the English guitarist and curious about the opportunity to sing on songs he’d written with her vocal talents in mind. After listening to the first few he’d written—all of which she said she loved—Schorr said she felt the need to ensure Trower that her enthusiasm for the material was authentic. “I wanted him to know if I didn’t think it was right for me, I would honestly tell him, just out of respect for him,” she said. “I wouldn’t say I love it if I didn’t. But the only feedback I was giving him was, ‘I love it!’”

When Schorr and Trower met in the studio for the first time, Schorr said Trower “broke the ice” by offering to make her tea before they jumped into the music. He urged her to follow her instincts, which helped them settle into a groove.

To start things off, “I chose the hardest song because I thought, if I can get this one done, and it works, everything else will be easy,” Schorr said. “I suggested we start with ‘I’ll Be Moving On,’ because it could have gone more rock, more bluesy, more soul, R&B. I asked him, ‘How do you want me to approach this?’ He said, ‘Just do what you do.’ And that made it so easy.”

They didn’t initially plan to record a full album together, but that changed after their first studio meeting. Schorr and Trower decided to put their next solo projects on hold while they focused on Joyful Sky, with Schorr working on demos while out on tour.

“He would send the songs across, and they were coming in faster than I could keep up with them, because I would send demos back to him so he could check if the key was working, and if it sounded good for my voice,” she said. “I had my little recording setup, and I would be out on tour and then go back to the hotel and try to record the vocals for him at 2:00 a.m. But it just worked. And then, damn—next thing we know, No. 1.”

Schorr and Trower performed the album together live for fans, a video of which is available to watch on Trower’s website for $25. Once they’d wrapped up Joyful Sky, Schorr refocused on her next solo album, which she said is close to being finished and will likely be released in the spring of 2024. Returning to that album while on tour has required Schorr to hop back and forth between her U.K. shows and working with her producer in Germany. But Schorr doesn’t mind staying busy—she said it “keeps me out of trouble.”

“I realized when I have too much downtime, my mind tends to wander, and it goes to the dark side. And I have to pull myself back,” she said. “I always go back to all the things I should be grateful for.”

Schorr likes to stay busy in other ways, too. She’s a distance runner and a long-distance cyclist who has tackled the Empire State Ride, for which cyclists bike more than 500 miles across New York while raising money for the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Schorr has also been involved with actor Sean Penn’s earthquake response efforts in Haiti and has mentored a sarpanch, or the head of a village in India, using the messaging and voice projection techniques she’s learned as a performer.

Schorr’s history with humanitarian work dates back to her time in Girl Scouts, and the issues she’s focused on thus far are just the beginning. There are many others, including gun legislation and homelessness, that Schorr hopes to spotlight moving forward. Though some believe musicians should “just shut up and sing”—a comment Schorr said she’s seen directed at her—she believes she has a “moral obligation” to use the public platform she has.

“There are a lot of big issues. As the opportunity becomes available, I want to try and find the space where my voice can lend to a campaign that is already moving through people’s awareness, or where there might be some holes where there’s something new that I can help raise awareness for,” she said.

For now, Schorr has the rest of her U.K. tour with Sweet to finish—it wraps up next week—and will be launching her European tour in March 2024. She still has a few rewrites to do on her next album, but she’s feeling positive about how it’s turning out.

“It’s shaping up to be the best work I’ve done. Which, it has to be—because, honestly, if I’m going to put out a record that’s not as good as anything I’ve released before, I should just tell people, ‘You know, don’t bother with the new one. Just go buy my old catalog,’” she said with a laugh. “You’ve got to offer up something even more innovative, even more interesting, and just continue to raise the bar up and up and up.”

One thought on “Sari Schorr Interview: Embracing Gratitude After Album With Robin Trower Tops Blues Chart

  • You should check out Derrick Dove & the Peacekeepers…….. very good up and coming blues band

    Reply

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