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Watching Sawyer Fredericks in Concert

Updated: Jun 3, 2022

Note: this blog article was originally published on 29 July 2016 on the Mezzo, Legato! WordPress blog.

Earlier this week, I had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching Sawyer Fredericks live in concert. Sawyer Fredericks, the winner of Season 8 of The Voice. An anomaly. A guy younger than me who introduced me to old soul folk. And my head is still jumping around as I write this because I still can’t believe I actually got to see him. Plus I’m too starstruck to think straight right now.

Middle East restaurant sign against dark blue sky

It was still light out that evening in Cambridge when I stood in line with my brother outside the Middle East Downstairs, taking selfies and chatting it up with other Sawyer fans standing among us, it still hadn’t sunk in. I was wondering if I was stuck in some bizarre dream, as I often had been before. Even after we were let in and the night opened with an incredible musician named Hailey Knox playing her guitar and practically being a one-man band along with her loop pedal, my brain was still hovering up in the clouds in some sort of realm between Heaven and outer space. Clearly, I had no idea where I actually was, if not literally just a few inches from the edge of the stage.

girl on stage with acoustic guitar, surrounded by band instruments

I just had to include a good picture of Hailey Knox here. She is such an incredible musician (note that she’s the only one playing)! It was great listening to her while waiting for Sawyer.

Then he walked on stage. The air was filled with whoops and hollers and a grin started to spread itself across my face as suddenly reality hit: he was just a few feet from me! The second he opened his mouth with the raw tone he uses in “Stranger”, a duet he recorded with teammate Mia Z sometime after The Voice (and one of my favorite songs by him since I bought it off his EP shortly after it was released), I remembered why I was there. I didn’t care that I appeared to be the only one in the audience who looked like a crazy rock star groupie that was bouncing around with her big hair and screaming all the words probably completely off-key, or that I’d already been standing as close to the stage as possible in high-heeled cowboy boots for two hours. I was long gone.

You see, I’d gone back and re-watched several of Sawyer’s performances on The Voice as well as some of his originals from earlier years, and knew just exactly what he was capable of. Besides making me cry. Or at least there were times when I nearly did. The thing is, his vocals run on raw emotion (I have never been able to watch “Iris” without getting all choked up because he sounded like he was close to tears). Especially when he sang “My Window” (I think that’s the title – I only have a vague recollection of it), a song he wrote about the stresses of being on The Voice, when it was just him doing the percussion and arrangement and everything on just his guitar, I had to stare up at the ceiling and just close my eyes a lot of the time to catch my breath. He was real. He was doing it. And his voice was so unique – I wondered why I never pinpointed that fact before.

Long-haired guy playing acoustic guitar

Right as close as I could get. Sorry about the quality.

An hour and a bit after I listened to some new stuff I’d never heard before (the whole album is awesome. Seriously), some old stuff he’d tweaked (whatever he did to “Not My Girl” and “Any of My Trouble”, a song that meant a lot to me because it was a song I played on the last night before I gave away my beloved dog before moving back here – pure genius!), and in general getting lost in Wonderland, I rushed to the meet-and-greet line as he closed off with “I’m A Man Of Constant Sorrow”, a song I’d been requesting the whole night. I must advise you, future concertgoers, that if you ever have the opportunity to meet the artist you’ve been dying to meet for months or even years (in my case it was a little over a year), ask them a million questions if time allows. Which is what I was initially planning to do (not that I could think of anything). But as my turn crept closer, my heart started turning cartwheels inside of my chest, and I silently barked at myself, “Act natural! Act natural!” And so clearly my natural tendency isn’t to act like a world-class reporter. Eventually when he hugged me and said hello, my natural reaction was to obviously be my dramatic and crazy self and giggle “Oh my gosh” over and over again like a love-struck teenager meeting Justin Bieber. I wonder if everyone was like, “Who was that weird black girl with the curly Afro wearing cheetah print and cowboy boots who just asked Sawyer to sign her handbag??”

Oh yeah, I told him to autograph my handbag since I had nothing else for him to sign. I would’ve asked him to sign my shoes had I been a little bit more insane, but that’s just tacky at the end of the day. Plus there were big burly security guards nearby, so I couldn’t do anything outrageous had I actually wanted to. Anyway, I was so overjoyed and over the moon and everything that I even hugged his mom (it was a very awkward hug, but whatever, the whole day meant the world to me).

A black woman and a long-haired guy side by side at the merchandise table

I look really goofy here. But I love it!

Even two days later, I still can’t believe that I was in the same room as Sawyer Fredericks for two whole hours. The guy whose music I adored and wanted to meet in person. And so finally I did it!

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