KEARNEY — A five-mile drive outside of Sheridan, Wyo., confirmed what singer/songwriter Sarah Sample already knew.
“My husband is originally from Wyoming,” she explained. “We came here for a job interview for him. I went for a drive and when you drive five miles in any direction here it turns into a dirt road, you’re into the wilderness. I just fell in love with it.”
The sense of the natural world fuels the music of the singer. And looking at a place like northern Wyoming, as an outsider, also works creatively for her.
“I’ve lived and traveled all over the country,” Sample said. “I think it gives me more compassion, wherever I go. There are incredible people in every place I’ve ever lived and traveled. But I actually like being an outsider in a community. You can bring a fresh perspective and I think it helps with a depth of experience.”
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As an outsider, Sample can form friendships with a wide range of people, people she might otherwise not have much in common. She uses these experiences and bonds as the basis for her songwriting.
The singer will perform folk music at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at The Balcony in Loomis as part of the Rehmsworld Concert Series. Also performing will be Edie Carey. The two musicians released an album together, “’Til the Morning: Lullabies and Songs of Comfort,” in 2014.
Tickets are $20 in advance or $23 at the door.
Living in north-central Wyoming requires some special arrangements for touring.
“Sheridan is a very hard place to get out of,” she said. “It’s hard to get into, too. It requires two plane trips wherever you go or lots of miles in a car. But that kind of isolation preserves whatever is special about it; for me that’s the wilderness and the open spaces.”
As a musician, Sample understands what makes music so appealing for her.
“Music is amazing,” she said. “It’s a universal language. I know that sounds cheesy to say, but it really is true. It also engages both hemispheres of our brains at the same time. It has this power to non-verbally communicate emotion and allow communication without very saying a word. I think it allows the ability of someone’s lyrics and story to be taken on by listeners as their own stories; to see themselves in music or to see their life stories in a song.”
That connection allows listeners to deal with difficult ideas.
Sample studied music therapy.
“That’s when I really saw the power of music,” she said. “And there are lots of amazing art forms that do similar things but I think that music can engage our brains and our hearts at the same time. And at the same time we often don’t know why music is affecting us. Have you ever listened to a song and found yourself crying?”
Sample understands that the music fills a space in the emotional life of listeners.
“It can be a touchstone for something you can’t talk about but need to feel or experience,” she said. “I’ve always been drawn to music. I’ve known since I was really young that I wanted to be a musician and I wanted to be a singer. There’s a joke in folk music that there is hundreds of dollars to be made in folk music. Literally I think that’s true.”
Regardless, Sample believes in the power of singer/songwriter/folk music.
“What is really powerful about music is not the currency of money but the currency of connection,” she said. “We have the ability to be richly paid in ‘connection’ with audiences and other musicians. In that regard, musicians are really wealthy.”
Creating personal, folk-based music allows Sample to examine her own life in a way that helps her understand the world.
“As a writer, to be vulnerable and to really dig deep and to share the scary truths that no one wants to talk about, if you’re willing to sing about those things then those are the things that have the biggest impact to the listener because somebody is voicing an insecurity or a big moment that most people don’t talk about,” she said.