CULTURE

Big Time Sarah sings the blues

A sleepy hello comes from the other end of the line. While it’s early evening in Greece, it’s early morning in the United States and Big Time Sarah is willing to answer all our questions, even though she has just woken up. Since that call, the great blues lady has come to Greece, this time for a series of performances that began last week and ends tonight at the Half Note Jazz Club. Growing up in the streets of Chicago, Big Time Sarah acquired a unique musical education and inner rhythm, qualities she shares with anyone who has sung in traditional jazz clubs. The blues are neither pop nor rock and in order to express their essence, you must have felt the pain up to your marrow, says Big Time Sarah, adding that the Greek public is able to go deep into this kind of music. And while she has never listened to rebetika, she has a feeling for it when she is on stage. Sorrow is not the only emotion you express when singing the blues; at times, the blues can actually put you in a good mood. The music simply adds to the emotions we have inside, it helps us understand what we really feel, says the singer. I use all my life experiences, and they are the ones guiding my voice. All that has defined me as a human being comes out. The blues have a soothing quality and they relax me emotionally. At the same time it’s true that the older you get, the easier it gets to draw from your experience, she says. As for those of the younger generation who are making their careers in rap and funk, Big Time Sarah believes that they don’t have adequate experience in life. Easy money and fame puts them in a fictional world where they live away from society, in contrast to the singers of older generations. To eternity Music might be going global, but the blues have a contract with eternity, according to the singer. And although there are not a lot of singers who can follow in the footsteps of the great masters, Big Time Sarah believes that there is always someone special coming up every 20 or 30 years. There are always successors; happily this is the history of music, she says. On the other hand, the feelings that the blues bring to the surface will always exist. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, for instance, many Americans found a solace in music; they broke down and cried.