"There is no doubt that Hiltz is a star on the rise."--Nicole Fricot, Culture Factory
Sarah Hiltz is emerging as a singularly talented Canadian musician with a voice all her own. Echoes of Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell and Feist ring out faintly through the structure of Sarah's artistry in a modern blend of jazz and folk she's been perfecting over the last 10+ years of performing.
Living up to a long tradition of folk music, Sarah has been praised for her ability to tell a story through song. It is with this ability that she bridges the gap between folk and jazz, telling stories not just with lyrics but also through wordless sound. Staying true to the improvisational spirit of jazz, Sarah works to make each live performance a unique and memorable experience for her audience, delving ever deeper into that magic-something that makes live music matter.
This fusion of contrasting qualities is what sets her apart and it is well demonstrated across her discography. From the indie/adult contemporary How Many Fires (2009) to the experimental art project Letters (2010) to her vocally-rich EP Music For December (2011) Sarah shows a thirst to push her creative limits to new heights.
Her newest release Til The Sun Falls (2013) proves this yet again as she delves into an exploration of some of her favourite jazz standards. Sarah explains the inspiration behind the project: "I had a great guitar teacher in my teens who exposed me to a lot of music I'd never heard before. I wouldn't have the same relationship to music, and specifically to jazz, if I hadn't met him. When he passed away in 2011, I had the idea to release an album featuring some of my favourite tunes that he taught me and put part of the profits back into music education in my hometown."
Sarah recorded the album in a one day session, live off the floor, along with fellow musicians Dean Harrison and Brian McHugh on piano and drums, and her father Bob Hiltz on bass. From the dream-like opening track Meditation to a fresh take on Joni Mitchell's Chelsea Morning and beyond, Til The Sun Falls will win you over with its unique ability to walk the line between reflective melancholy and light-hearted music making.
• Til The Sun Falls (full length release)
• Top 3 finalist in nation-wide "She's The One" Ottawa Bluesfest competition
• performed at pre-show parties for Gordon Lightfoot's Southwestern Ontario tour dates (Chatham, Sarnia, St. Thomas)
• Released single + video "How To Pour Whiskey For Strangers"
• toured through Western Canada performing aboard VIA Rail,
ending with a show in Courtenay, BC opening for Ron Hynes
• Music For December (digital EP release)
• For The Roses tour across Ontario and Montreal with
• opened for Kat Lucas (P!nk’s guitarist)
• performed at Rib Fest, Canada D’Eh (with Superfly), Art At
The Marina, Two Creeks Concert Series, Great Lakes
• opened for Ambre McLean, Jaimee Paul, Lief Shires, Stacy
Mitchhart, Allison Brown
• nominated for Best Folk (Toronto Independent Music
• performed at CkontheEdge festival
• Letters (limited edition EP release)
• played for Gap’s 40th anniversary in Toledo, OH
• performed at Tastefest, Great Lakes Lavender Festival
• How Many Fires (full length release)
• performed at Nuit Blanche in Toronto (as a member of the
Sound Forest mass choir)
Solo - Sarah Hiltz - Vocals, Guitar
Duo - Bass, Piano, or 2nd guitar + vocals
Trio - Drums + Bass, or drums + keys/guitar
Full band - Bass, Drums, Guitar, keyboards
Sarah Hiltz - How Many Fires (2009) LP
Sarah Hiltz - Letters (2010 Limited Release) EP
Sarah Hiltz - Music For December (2011) EP
Sarah Hiltz - How To Pour Whiskey For Strangers (2012) Single
Sarah Hiltz - Til The Sun Falls (2013) LP
RRL FEATURE OF THE WEEK: SARAH HILTZ
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‘Top 3 Finalist in the nation-wide Ottawa BluesFest Competition ‘She’s the One’.’ ’2010 Best Folk A...‘Top 3 Finalist in the nation-wide Ottawa BluesFest Competition ‘She’s the One’.’
’2010 Best Folk Artist Nominee @ The Toronto Independent Music Awards’
I follow a trail of infinity through the world of Google Search that pilots me to sarahhiltz.com. I arrive to find her entrancing eyes greeting me behind a pair of raven rimmed glasses. Her site is charming and reminds me of sleeveless flowered dresses brushing softly against the blowing stock of summer corn. I can almost hear her soft voice at odds with the breeze as she contentedly strums her guitar. I follow her to Youtube where she waits to tell me ‘How to Pour Whiskey For Strangers’. I pull up my old and sloping kitchen stool and listen. There I am carried through a glowing window to a time of Blue, when the needle dropped on my mother’s vinyl and I heard Joni Mitchell’s voice quavering out of the speakers. I want to hear more. I pick a video at random and ‘You’ll Fall in Love’ rebounds me like an anchored elastic back to 2012. Dirty, Raw and unexpected. The track is jagged and toothy. Her voice has a fiery edge that suddenly reminds me of KT Tunstall. I love! I love! I want more and more and more. I listen until the well is dry and I realize I am late to pay the piper. I encase Sarah in my compact computer and trudge off to work as ‘I Don’t How to Love You’ boomerangs around in my head.
To say I am excited to share the stage with this brilliant lady is most understated. As one astute Sarah youtube viewer and fan commented ‘as soon as you open your mouth I start smiling’. I get the sneaking suspicion when I see her I will be doing a lot of smiling! DO NOT miss the chance to smile. OCTOBER 25th @ The Free Times Cafe (320 College Street, Toronto). SARAH HILTZ. 8:30pm.
Sarah Hiltz: She's the One
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Jazz, blues, folk and funk - Sarah Hiltz is bringing it all to the Ottawa RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest S...Jazz, blues, folk and funk - Sarah Hiltz is bringing it all to the Ottawa RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest Saturday.
The 27-year-old Chatham singer-songwriter is going note for note against Molly Thomason and Breagh Mackinnon, both from the east coast, in the She's the One Emerging Female Artists Competition.
Before she hits the stage in Ottawa Saturday, she'll be enticing the audience at the Chatham Sunrise Rotary Ribfest in Tecumseh Park. She'll play Two Creeks Conservation Area in Wheatley on Sunday.
"Right on the submission it says if you're selected as a top-three finalist you must be available to play at the festival on July 7," said Hiltz. "I thought 'What are the odds?' So (now) I have to drive to Ottawa and back in pretty much one day."
Hiltz will be performing first on the solo bill at the Barney Danson theatre, followed by Thomason and Mackinnon.
"I do get really nervous so at least if I get it out of the way it might be better that way," she said. "I play for 20 minutes."
Hiltz said "How to Pour Whiskey for Strangers," her newly released video single, will definitely be on the playlist, otherwise she's hoping to read the audience and give them what they want.
"It's really hard to know, if I haven't played a certain venue, what the crowd is going to like and what they want," she said. "So I need to be ready."
Hiltz's Bluesfest web bio said her style delivers "echoes of Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell and Feist ... in a modern blend of folk and jazz," something she hopes catches the judges' attention during the competition.
Judges will be looking at the performance, stage presence, audience reaction, originality, musicality and "it" factor of participants before presenting the winner with $2,000 and serious bragging rights of being Canada's emerging female solo artist.
"To be able to play in such a professional environment, it brings me up to that level. I have to rise to the occasion," said Hiltz.
Despite her tight time schedule to get to Ottawa, perform and return to Chatham-Kent for her Sunday gig, Hiltz is hoping to spend some time with judges and other musicians to get feedback, suggestions and absorb the knowledge of those involved on a larger scale in the industry.
Either way, Hiltz's life won't change too much, win or lose, she figures.
"Monday or Tuesday after I've slept for 12 hours I'll either mourn my defeat, or celebrate my victory," she said with a laugh.
"It just feels good to be busy; there's only one weekend all summer where I don't have at least one show. That's pretty energizing."
Hiltz hopes to have her fourth, as of yet unnamed, album released before the end of the year.
Chatham songstress Sarah Hiltz rides the rails
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Thinking about musicians riding the rails conjures nostalgic images of songmen like Wilf Carter and ...Thinking about musicians riding the rails conjures nostalgic images of songmen like Wilf Carter and Stompin’ Tom hopping boxcars to get their music out to the far corners of the Canadian landscape. Via Rail’s On Board Entertainment Program is a modern take on giving musicians a free ride while offering its passengers a unique traveling experience. Chatham songstress Sarah Hiltz is all aboard, taking part in the On Board Entertainment program for a trip out to Victoria for several concerts in B.C. this fall.
“It will be my first time sleeping on a train, I’ve wanted to do that since I was a little girl,” Sarah says, “I’m really excited about riding from Toronto to Vancouver and I’ll play on the train every day between the two cities.”
VIA Rail offers musicians free or reduced travel fare on any of their long-haul trains in exchange for two 45-minute acoustic concert each day for its passengers. An economically and environmentally friendly way to tour, musicians have been finding out about the program largely through word-of-mouth, “My friend Ambre McLean told me about the program, she’s used it often to travel all over Canada, playing in different cities, so she gave me the contact for Genevieve,” says Sarah.
Genevieve Beland coordinates VIA’s On Board Entertainment Program, and soloists and duos can apply by emailing Genevieve, filling out an application form and sending in music or video samples of a live show; no in-person audition process is required. VIA encourages artists to have concert dates booked along the way, as artists can spend time in cities along the route and return to the train, but it’s not a mandatory aspect of the program.
Sarah’s blog on SarahHiltz.com outlines three goals, the last and unchecked on the list is: “conquer all of Canada with my musicality”, and the On Board Entertainment Program helps achieve that goal. “I’ve never been further west than Alberta before and I’ve never played shows west of Ontario. The program gives me the opportunity to expose some other people in Canada to my music. Hopefully I can ride the rails out east next summer too,” Sarah says.
Sarah embarks on her fall train ride as a soloist, but she does perform in a number of diverse ensembles. She plays as a duo with longtime friend Lindsay Ross, also known as Linz, “Our parents played locally here in Chatham a lot. Julie Ross is her Mom, and my Dad’s name is Bob Hiltz, and they used to play in a band together.”
“Lindsay and I met when her mom asked me to come with them Christmas carolling. We could both sing really high harmonies so that was our initial bond.”
Sarah and Linz play a collection of folk-rock and classic rock covers, and Sarah also sings with a band ensemble that plays jazz, blues and R&B. “I try to think about my original music as a priority, that’s the thing that’s most important,” Sarah explains. “Those things are there to supplement my original music and experimenting with different formats stretches me musically.”
Recently Sarah left her work at Frank’s Music in Chatham to focus more on her music career while also teaching music lessons from her home. Sarah is happy to be part of Chatham’s close-knit community of musicians, “There are a lot of great players here. There’s an underground punk rock scene that I’m not really part of, but we’re buddies…There are a lot of good blues musicians and a small jazz scene, and some singer-songwriters. Every once and a while I do a guest song with a funk band. We’re all pals.”
Sarah’s first official release How Many Fires was recorded in 2009 at her Bob Hiltz’s studio in Chatham and featured local players on orchestrated arrangements including horns, strings, and full band sounds. “I actually recorded that album in four weeks. It was a whirlwind,” she says.
Sarah released an unofficial recording originally. “I made one back when I was thirteen,” she confesses. “I hadn’t developed musically, I wasn’t really driving the bus on that record so it was time for me to take the reins and do it myself.”
In 2010, Sarah launched a performance art project called Letters which also featured an EP of songs from the show. “I took seven songs of mine that were about a specific event or a specific person and I composed letters to the subject of the song,” she explains. “I wrote a song about my favourite café here in Chatham when it had its ten year anniversary so I wrote a letter to the café as if it were a person.”
In the Letters show, Sarah reads the letters aloud, then performs the accompanying song. Sarah learned calligraphy for the project, and each letter is done in a varying style, and the EP comes in an envelope rather than a regular CD case, with copies of the artwork included. Because the full Letters performance includes computer-generated soundscape and Tibetan singing bowls, Sarah won’t be doing the full performance aspects aboard the train, but she will be performing some of the acoustic songs. She hopes to record a full-length version of Letters, adding some more songs, and do a full tour of the project within the next year, “I think it is an interesting show and people really seem to enjoy hearing what the songs are about and it’s a really honest intimate way to experience songwriting.”
All aboard! If you’re taking the train anywhere between Toronto and Vancouver this fall, you may hear Sarah Hiltz performing live above the rumble of the rails.
CBC Radio interview
CBC Radio interview Friday, November 18, 2011 Length: 6:25
Come on and take a free ride
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ENTERTAINMENT: Local musician entertains on train By Trevor Terfloth With her acoustic guitar ...ENTERTAINMENT: Local musician entertains on train
By Trevor Terfloth
With her acoustic guitar and smooth voice, Sarah Hiltz had a chance to catch a free ride.
The Chatham musician and songwriter recently travelled across the country on VIA Rail, as part of a program that provides people a trip in exchange for entertainment.
Although she has played many shows and festivals, the two-week journey to Victoria, B.C. was a whole new experience.
"It's a great opportunity," she said. "I got to meet a lot of interesting people from all over the place.
"I love the train. It was a really fun way to entertain people."
There were several stopovers, but Hiltz said the same core group of travelers were on the entire trip and she was able to get to know them.
She also enjoyed the scenery more on the train instead of in a car.
"The mountains coming in Jasper, (Alta.) were pretty spectacular," she said. "I played six shows on the train. There were memorable moments, because in between songs you're chatting with the people listening. Those personal exchanges were really what sticks out the most."
Hiltz admitted the train can get a little loud when it's moving faster. Playing can also be a little tricky.
"I'm standing some of the time, so if we go around the curve suddenly, I'm fighting to keep my balance," she said with a laugh.
There was an application process to be selected for the VIA program, which Hiltz heard about through a friend.
She said unique material needed to be played each set.
"I ended up doing a few repeats because people would request songs that they had already heard," she said. "But I had to be ready, so I had a list of 160 songs that I was prepared to perform if I needed to."
She hopes to take another train trip, but to Eastern Canada the next time, as she wants to tour there.
"It is really nice to have somebody else in charge of getting me to my destination," she said. "I'm free to enjoy the journey."
Hiltz also has a Christmas EP, titled "Music For December", available at www.sarahhiltz.com
Hiltz to tour Ontario, Quebec
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By TREVOR TERFLOTH, THE DAILY NEWS A local songwriter will join an old friend and fellow Chatham ...By TREVOR TERFLOTH, THE DAILY NEWS
A local songwriter will join an old friend and fellow Chatham native in an Ontario and Quebec tour this month.
Sarah Hiltz will perform on her "For the Roses" tour, along with Cameron MacLean, who now resides in Montreal.
Although she's played out of town before, this will be the first time she's hit the road for a long string of shows.
"I've been wanting to do this for a very long time," Hiltz said. "It feels great to finally be able to put it together."
Hiltz sings and plays guitar, with MacLean singing and playing guitar, piano and mandolin.
She said they got together recently to play some songs for the fun of it.
"It went really well," she said. "We were just talking about our future plans. I was already planning on doing a bunch of shows by myself and he was looking to do the same thing. So we decided to team up and do it together."
Hiltz said they haven't cowritten any songs, but will instead accompany each other on their own originals.
She said the venues are primarily cafés, pubs and art galleries.
The tour begins in Wallaceburg at the CKXS studio on Aug. 11. After that, they'll play Chatham at ARThouse on Aug. 12; Windsor at Taloola Café on Aug. 13; Kingston at The Artel on Aug. 22; Ottawa at Avant Garde on Aug. 23; Montreal at Shaika Café on Aug. 25; Peterborough at The Spill on Aug. 26; and Toronto at The Old Nick on Aug. 29.
Saturday, April 30th, 2011 Length 24:43
Hiltz nominated for T.O. music award
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A Chatham musician is up for a Toronto Independent Music Award on Friday. Sarah Hiltz, who releas...A Chatham musician is up for a Toronto Independent Music Award on Friday.
Sarah Hiltz, who released her album "How Many Fires" last year, said she she found out a month ago she made it into the folk category.
"It's pretty cool. I didn't expect to be nominated," she said.
The ceremony will be held at the Phoenix Concert Theatre.
Also in the category is Beth Moore, Carly and Mark, The Tree Streets and Dala.
It's the first time Hiltz, 25, has been has been nominated for a TIMA.
She recently released a demo EP titled "Letters", which features spoken-word letters that coincide with the songs.
Hiltz hopes to pursue that idea in the future.
"I want to expand that show and record a full-length album," she said.
Sarah Hiltz launches first full-length CD at William Street
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Chatham singer-songwriter Sarah Hiltz has released her first full-length CD, How Many Fires, and int...Chatham singer-songwriter Sarah Hiltz has released her first full-length CD, How Many Fires, and introduced it to the public with a powerful but intimate solo show at William Street Café last Friday evening.
Hiltz delivered a string of varied and innovative original tunes that allowed her delicious voice to soar through the coffee house. She needs to get this piece of work out there and did mention a tour in support of the CD. Cktimes' editor John Gardiner took in the William Street show and thought it was great stuff.
Setlists are tailored to suit each gig. You can typically expect a lot of original material, creatively-interpreted covers and the odd jazz standard, depending on whether I'm performing solo or with a group.
|Dec 8, 2013 Sunday||8:00 PM||Sotto Voce||Toronto, ON, CA|
|Dec 16, 2013 Monday||7:00 PM||The Old Nick||Toronto, ON, CA|