Acclaimed Jazz/Blues Artist Sara Michaels, who is renowned for her lush and soulful voice and captivating stage presence, has revealed details for the first single from a new collection of songs that she is currently working on. “Hard Winter,” which she says she wrote in the midst of the Pandemic as a way to “find hope, healing and joy again,” is available now on all DSPs, along with her poignant video https://youtu.be/extezvXW7FY.
Originally intended as a holiday gift for her family, “Hard Winter” was never meant to be released to the public. Nor was it ever imagined to serve as the debut track from a new collection of songs. However, according to the famed singer-songwriter, just like the twists and turns that have guided her life and career, there were bigger plans in store for her.
“I started out writing this song to my family,” she said. “But after reflecting on the past year – my own family’s losses, the death of parents and loss of jobs was one thing – but internalizing all of the struggles our county has endured during this pandemic is another. I looked for hope and somewhere to find joy. This joy for us was in the birth of our first Grandchild and I soon found myself writing something to try to inspire hope in others.”
Teaming up with long-time friend and esteemed jazz guitarist and composer E. Shawn Qaissaunee, as well as engineers Glenn Barratt and Dave Schonauer (Morning Star Studios), Michaels masterfully transformed the love letter to her family into a beautiful, albeit complicated and complex, ballad about the hard contrasts of life. Themes of dark and light, death and birth, wounded and healing, hate and love, and sorrow and joy are intricately woven throughout the textured lyrics and skillfully composed music. This enigmatic dichotomy is further enhanced by the high-caliber musicians she brought in to record the song.
Some of New York and Philadelphia region’s most preeminent jazz musicians including Zach Brock (Violin), Aaron Graves (Piano), Matthew Parrish (Bass) and Harry “Butch” Reed (Drums), created the stark highs and lows of the song and as Michaels says “dug deep with emotion and laid the spiritual foundation of the song, which was grounded firmly in love.”
To support the release of the “Hard Winter” single, Michaels is also unveiling an emotionally-stirring video, which she filmed with producer, editor, and good friend Helen Polise (Muthership Productions). The winter footage was shot by husband Michael Phelan and son Collin Phelan from the Brandywine Valley area and Collin’s winter travels.
“The video for ‘Hard Winter’ was a labor of love and total collaborative effort,” said Michaels. Helen Polise is known for creating amazing video content for national brands. Michaels said, “I was very fortunate to collaborate with her on this passion project. Helen’s magic is to match the imagery with the mood and the movement of the music. To have my husband, son and friends involved in the video, made it even more special. All of us bonded by the hardships of not traveling, touching or even kissing our grandchildren – it was very cathartic.”