Songbird chats about Obama and musical growth

By Emma Kilcup

Sara Bareilles with Elizabeth and the Catapult and Ximena… Sara Bareilles with Elizabeth and the Catapult and Ximena Sariñana

Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead

7:30 p.m. today

Tickets Sold Out

Sara Bareilles’ latest hit, “Uncharted,” is — contrary to its title — climbing up the charts, already at No. 8 on VH1’s Top 20.

Currently on the tour for her latest album, Kaleidoscope Heart, the “Love Song” singer still tries to stay connected with fans through her blog and has remained involved in her philanthropic efforts by living without shoes for a day to raise awareness about children without footwear and by recording a song for a tsunami relief album.

The singer is performing at Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead today at 7:30 p.m. She will be joined by acts Elizabeth and the Catapult and Ximena Sariñana. Before she arrives, The Pitt News got the chance to talk with her about playing for the President, her philanthropic works and growing musically with her newest album.

The Pitt News: The last time you were in Pittsburgh was during the G-20 summit to perform for the diplomats. How was that experience?

Sara Bareilles: It was amazing, just totally fascinating. It was the first time that I was involved in anything on the political spectrum and it was so great to be a part of it. Getting to know the first lady was such an honor. It was also so nerve-wracking. I was shaking in my boots. I was just so terrified to perform for them — I’m not usually that nervous.

TPN: I know that you have opened for Barack Obama on numerous occasions and described you as a White House favorite. How do you feel about this title?

SB: Aw, that makes me smile, but it’s so silly. I can’t believe that I’ve performed for the presidential family on multiple occasions — it’s such an honor. I’ve always been a supporter of Obama so it’s great to be able to show my support in that way and it’s an honor that they enjoy my music.

TPN: Well, along with being politically active, I see from your blog that you are also very philanthropically active with causes like TOMS’ One Day Without Shoes and a tsunami relief album. How do you make time for it all?

SB: The philanthropic efforts are one of the most important parts of my career. They are one of the most important places you can put your energy. I feel that it’s my duty to be active — it’s an amazing platform to bring awareness and inspiration. We all have ways to contribute and not all are financial, but everybody can help in their own way. I would be selfish to not be involved.

TPN: You seem to update your blog often with bits of news and personal messages to those who keep up with your website. Do you find that helps connect you to your fans?

SB: Most definitely. I love the one-on-one interactions most. I didn’t get Twitter initially, I didn’t understand the purpose. But it’s a great way to stay connected. I’ve been a stickler about writing public messages myself. I don’t like to feel like there is anybody speaking for me. I like to feel like I have the control and power to speak for myself.

TPN: Your first megahit, “Love Song,” makes some sarcastic jabs at relationships. The sassy messages are similar to those in your latest hit, “King of Anything.” What is your inspiration behind these songs?

SB: (laughs a bit) Well, my inspiration comes from a creative place. There was a lot of pressure to write, and “King of Anything” was about getting feedback. I was out of practice with receiving criticism. So I received feedback and then went back and recorded the song in an hour and a half. Everybody can really relate — we’ve all met people who think they can run our lives.

TPN: In an interview with Billboard you describe your latest album, Kaleidoscope Heart, as “interesting” and “a little more quirky-sounding.” How do you think your music has changed or progressed since your first album?

SB: I think it’s more mature sounding. I took risks and made a conscious choice to branch out as a piano player and singer. I tried to make strides forward. I never want to compromise my music. The bottom line is that the song has to be great alone. I care about these songs and I’m proud of the way they turned out.

TPN: You also mention that you worked with Neal Avron who is known for working with artists like Weezer and Say Anything who have more of a rock sound. How did this influence your latest record?

SB: We were both dedicated to the idea that the song comes first — we had to love it. And the pairing worked because I have a more conservative side and he is known to have a harder edge, which helped dictate the path for the album. I really loved working with him — he is so talented.

TPN: As you continue to collaborate with various artists, including Pharrell Williams recently, are there any who have been particularly influential?

SB: I’ve had some amazing experiences. I had a great weekend in New York with the Roots and I’ve written a song via e-mail. There is not one in particular that I can choose. They have all been inspiring and great learning experiences. I came away feeling like a stronger artist after each. I’ve collaborated with some great artists so far, and I think that there will be more collaboration during my next chapter.

TPN: Do you have any ideas of people you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

SB: Yes, I’d love to collaborate with Chris Martin from Coldplay and Cee Lo Green.