Sara Jackson-Holman released her second album, Didn’t Go to the Party, earlier this year. Written to chart the arc of a romantic relationship and breakup, the record sets Jackson-Holman’s heart-on-sleeve lyrics against a lush backdrop of strings and her own classically-trained piano. As a singer, Jackson-Holman has the big voice of a pop balladeer, though she delivers most of her songs in an intimate croon not much above a whisper, more for the front row of a club than the back row of the Schnitz.

Jackson-Holman began piano lessons at age 6, and her love of romantic Beethoven, Chopin and delicate piano miniatures by Erik Satie are clear touchstones for her songwriting. Shy by nature, she left the world of classical recitals (“They were terrifying. The audience is super silent. Everyone is judging you.”) to writing and performing at open mic nights in Bend with a borrowed keyboard (“Everyone was smiling. It felt very freeing to be able to do my own music.”)

Sara Jackson-Holman’s recordings have landed placements in television series including Grey’s Anatomy, Castle, and Orange is the New Black. One of those song placements led to a chance meeting with a fan. A New Zealander who had lost his wife to cancer found comfort in the song “Freight Train,” reached out over Facebook, and eventually came to Portland to meet in person over a cup of coffee. For Jackson-Holman, the meeting underscored the powerful ability of a song to connect with others a continent away.

Sara Jackson-Holman performed in our studio with Skyler Norwood (drums), Dasha Shleyeva (bass), Jessie Dettwiler (cello), and Joel Bocek (guitar, vibes).

Watch the full studio performance in the VuHaus player above, and listen to our interview in the audio player below.


Audio recording: Steven Kray
Mixes: Hakeem Hasworth
Videographers: Chase Amen, Drew Barrick, Jarratt Taylor
Executive Producer: David Christensen