Interview: Sara Brimer Davey

Recently, our resident sound engineer Jon was lucky enough to work with internationally renowned Soprano and former member of The Swingle Singers; Sara Brimer Davey. 

We spoke to Sara about her career, most memorable moments to date, rituals she swears by and the piece of advice she would give to her 15-year-old self! Read the article below, but first, here she is singing The Diva Aria from The Fifth Element. This performance was captured live on tour with the Swingle Singers and Gareth Malone in May 2018.

Looking back at your career so far, what has been the most memorable moment?

"Singing in my home town in Tennessee. I sang once in my High School in 2013 and once for my University in 2018.  These experiences were incredibly surreal!  People I have known since I was born, from each phase of my life, best friends, family, some people I hadn’t seen for over 20 years, were standing and clapping and whooping for me!  At the last concert there I also received a Distinguished Alumni award from my University (East Tennessee State University). Of course I was overwhelmed and so incredibly honoured".

Who has been the most influential person in your vocal development?

"I couldn’t possibly chose just one person:  

#1 I’d have to say my Mother, she let me make all kinds of crazy noises, taught me what was a natural and healthy sound and encouraged me and my siblings to sing together in harmony several times a year at church.  

#2 My vocal teacher in college Ms. Karen Smith, she taught me to let my voice by mine but also developed my technique and pushed me to work harder.  She also helped me to apply for the Swingle Singers job.

#3  My choir director in college Dr. Thomas Jenrette, he broadened my knowledge of choral repertoire and gave me many opportunities as a soloist and responsibilities as a section leader in our choir.  He also didn’t give me any room to be lazy.  He knew what I could do and expected it from me all the time.  

#4 The Swingles. I learned so much on the job with them.  I learned much more about running a business than I ever though I would and it strengthened me as an artist and performer".

What are your daily vocal rituals?

"I generally do a light warm up/check in each day.  If I’m not singing that day it may only last a minute or two.  Always drink lots of water and try and get good sleep, I know its not always possible but it certainly makes a difference.  I’m also a big advocate of experimenting and imitation, if you hear something intriguing to you try and replicate it, even if it’s a lawn mower!"

Any remedies you swear by?

"As I mentioned: water.  I tend to steer clear of fruit juice and try and limit dairy a bit as I find they both affect my singing and acid reflux".

Do you have a favourite song to sing?

"I actually like to sing along with instrumental music quite often.  I also like to make up harmonies or improvise solo lines to music I already know really well.  The songs I sing on my free time greatly depend on my mood. I love to pretend I can sing along with Karen Carpenters low notes, Prodigy’s mad beats, and Esquivels eccentric orchestral compositions.  I don’t love to sing songs because I sound great when singing them, I love singing because its fun!"

Have there been any sacrifices you've made for your career?

"Simply moving to a new country you expect to sacrifice some things but put on top of that being on tour and its pretty tough.  I’ve missed countless friends weddings and birthday partys, family get togethers and community events.  Touring can be incredibly fun but it can also be isolating and lonely.  As you are away much of the year its hard to make friends because you cannot commit to outings and meeting up regularly.  If you grew up in that country its slightly better because you’d have school friends and neighbours that knew you before you had to be gone for ages. I didn’t have that aspect but I did make many friends on tour that will be friends for life and having them scattered across the globe is great! Now that I’m not doing as much touring I am digging into being a part of our village and making friends locally".

What piece of advice would you give to your 15-year-old self?

"You don’t have to conform to what people expect.  Listen to your heart and what its telling you to do, work really hard to make it happen.  Through my journey and even now I have people ask me “When are you going to do this… Don’t you want to ….You should…” and I take it all with a grain of salt.  Take all the advice you are given, all the expectations thrown at you, all the helpful suggestions and social constructs and look at them from a long way off.  If you feel drawn to follow those paths then do so but… you don’t have to".

What’s coming up for you next?

"I’m continuing to sing on major film soundtracks and do some travelling projects here and there.  I also do a lot of crafting, I quilt, I make jewellery, I do embroidery, I make stained glass, and I paint and draw. Along with continuous singing I am always making things and selling  them at craft fairs and online."

To find out more about Sara and what she’s up to next, follow her on Instagram: @sarabdavey / Twitter: @sarabdavey

Or for Sara's crafty things - / Instagram: @twinklingtraveller