Without a doubt, currently Toronto-based Sara Wilkinson is an artist – dressed to the nines in vintage clothes, sipping herbal tea to keep her voice healthy while on tour.
A few hours earlier, she had walked into the venue, a hidden gem of Ottawa’s Chinatown, in a faux fur vest, leopard print socks and a wide-brimmed felt hat, carrying her guitar in its case. Though we had never met, I knew right way she was the performer, someone who would be taking the stage to tell stories through songs, all while being unapologetically herself.
“Every artist goes through those moments of doubt, but if you don’t believe in yourself, it’s not going to happen. Earlier this year, I realized that I was tired of doubting myself every day. No one can force you to sing. So now my best advice, as corny as it sounds, is to believe in yourself and do the work.”
Sara Wilkinson is likely the most spontaneous person I’ve ever met. After graduating from Musical Theatre School, she moved to New York City on a whim to work with a friend, writing children’s theatre and making ends meet by being a nanny for a couple in Manhattan.
“In New York, the caliber of the musicians is so good,” she gushes. “There’s so much opportunity…. I found that in Toronto and New York, you have to beg to perform, advocate for yourself, you have to prove that you’re a musician. Whereas when I was in Cuba, music is everywhere, and people want to share it. Cuba is so generous, music is part of their culture.”
Honestly, when music fans romanticize the “humble, travelling singer-songwriter,” they’re probably picturing the image of Sara Wilkinson. She also lived in France for two months, and Thailand for one month, and her stage banter tells stories of the time she traveled across Canada to go tree planting on a whim. Sara keeps in touch with friends over the years. Even if they can’t let her crash on their couch while touring, they would still love to see her play and catch up – and with a bubbly, friendly personality and easygoing nature, Sara makes for an ideal house guest.
A voracious reader, Sara Wilkinson’s favourite books are the Harry Potter series (she’s a Gryffindor, obviously) and stories from the Holocaust – as her family is Jewish, she views learning about her culture’s history is significant. However, one book that particularly stood out to her in recent reads was “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. In it, the author describes inspiration “as ideas floating through you.” Sara latched onto that idea, as it so clearly put into words how she viewed her gift of songwriting. “Songs are just ideas floating around, waiting for you to pick them up. If you don’t pick them up, after a while, they float to someone else. I’m just the vessel.”
Sara Wilkinson is launching Wilkinson Wednesdays in early 2019. “I’m super excited about it! I’ll be focusing on building my fan base by releasing a new video, sometimes super produced and other times just a simple acoustic session, every Wednesday.”