Sara K. (full name Sara Katherine Wooldridge) is an American singer-songwriter based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her music includes genres like blues, folk as well as jazz. She has released audiophile albums and played a custom 4-(bass)-string acoustic guitar. She withdrew from the music business in 2009.
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, she grew up in a family surrounded by music: her mother sang in a church choir, her father in a barbershop quartet, her brother played in a band, and her sister also played the guitar. However, her family considered music a hobby, not a job option.
In the early 1970s, at the age of 15, she started playing the guitar, using one her sister had left behind. She took this flamenco guitar, took off the remaining regular strings, and put four bass strings on instead (tuned to an open A). This gave it a fuller tone than a conventional acoustic guitar while not sounding as deep as a bass. She used this tuning from then on, making it one of her trademarks.
Although the era of acoustic solo performers was on the decline in the late 1970s, she stayed on that course. After graduating and moving out, she spent a few years playing whenever and wherever possible, be it “happy hours”, back-up vocals for country music and jingles, or her own demo tapes. When realizing that she didn’t entirely fit the contemporary scene in Dallas, she moved to New Mexico.
After having moved to the small mountain town Ruidoso, New Mexico, she became leader of the band Sara K. and the Boys Without Sleep. From 1978 to 1983, they toured mainly New Mexico and Los Angeles. She also toured with country musician Gary Nunn for two years.
After moving to Santa Fe, she teamed up with several musicians and put out her debut album, Gypsy Alley (1989) with Mesa/Bluemoon. Many of its songs’ topics come from the almost fifteen years she had lived a somewhat nomadic lifestyle, moving around a lot. These years had ended when she rented a place on that very same Gypsy Alley (off Canyon Road, Santa Fe), won a goldfish on a country fair, and got her dog Bebe (who himself is mentioned numerous times in her songs).
“Furthermore, Sara K. comes across as authentic, she “has lived these stories, is right in the middle of them and relates them from the heart—warm, personal and moving.” The album won her immediately the New Mexico Music Industry Coalition’s “Best Album Award”,
One of the musicians she worked with on Gypsy Alley was guitarist Bruce Dunlap, who was also signed to New York-based Chesky Records, a record label aimed mainly at audiophiles. He helped to bring her to the label and she remained signed to Chesky for more than ten years, up to 2001. For Sara K. herself, this opened up a whole new era marked by contrasts—between her southwestern homebase Santa Fe and Chesky’s hectic New York, between the familiar analogue recording equipment and the new digital/audiophile one, and between the dream of fame and wealth and the realities of the record industry.
With Chesky, Sara K. recorded six albums, Closer Than They Appear, Play On Words, Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin’, Hobo, the live album No Cover, and What Matters. In the end, Chesky also compiled a “Best of” album of Sara K. called The Chesky Collection. Sarah also makes an appearance on Chesky Records sound system benchmarking record, The Ultimate Demonstration Disk.
In the meantime, she toured Europe and had planned to but never did move to San Francisco. At the end of her contract obligations with Chesky, Sara got the feeling that she had “been ripped off in many directions by labels and touring companies”.
On her last tour through Germany under the Chesky contract, the owner of the German label Stockfisch Records, Günter Pauler, was called to be her sound specialist. He took the opportunity to give her a tour of his studio and offer her a record contract along with the prospect of having guitarist Chris Jones as guest musician, which she signed.
The cooperation with Chris Jones proved to be congenial. Her first Stockfisch release, Water Falls (2001), was followed by a tour that year, which in turn provided material for both a live DVD and the live album Live in Concert (2003). The latter won her the German music magazine AUDIO/stereoplay’s “Hifi Music Award 2003” for audiophile CDs.
In 2006, the third album with Stockfisch was released, Hell or High Water. It features ten new tracks, again with Chris Jones on guitar and dobro. Jones died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma just shortly after recording and before the release of the album.
She released her fourth Stockfisch album Made in the Shade in 2009, containing several new versions of her Gypsy Alley album songs.
With the release of her 2009 album, she announced her withdrawal from music business. In a note to her fans on her label’s website, she stated:
After many years on the road and writing music, I’ve decided to stop touring and recording. It’s hard to explain why but I hope you will understand. I had a good run but I think it’s over. It’s just too much for too little these days. Made in the Shade explains it as best as I know how.(Sara K., 2009)
And this is one of her great albums for Chesky Records:
“Listening to this just completes a nice day. Sara not only gives us a little glimpse on the talented world, but also takes you away to a high level of music where only the best of the best exists. A total acoustic experience with dazzling showdowns of talent, not only vocal but also instrumental!!! For an audiophile taste only!!!” Truly a masterpice!!! (by Sotilla)
And listen to a real great version of “Whipping Post” from The Allman Brothers Band !
Hul Cox (guitar)
Bruce Dunlap (guitar)
Randy Landau (bass)
Steve Shehan (percussion)
01. What You Don’t Know (Sara K.) 4.33
02. Easy Street (Sara K.) 4.00
03. Out Of My Hands (Sara K.) 4.16
04. Whipping Post (Allman) 3.28
05. Big Yard, No Pets (Sara K.) 3:17
06. Fortune Ladie’s Eyes (Sara K.) 4:09
07. J. J (Sara K.) 3:25
08. You’ve Walked That Way Before (Sara K.) 2:05
09. Love Is Strong (Sara K.) 4:09
10. Free Will (Sara K.) 3:17
11. Leave The Leavin’ Up To Me (Sara K.) 4:06
12. Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin’ (Sara K.) 5:14
13. Vincent (McLean) 4.07