The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.

Front and Center: Australian Singer-Songwriter, Jessica Sarah

Water photoBy Gabriella Steffenberg 

Jessica Sarah’s road to music was an unexpected one. She had been training more than 20 hours a week all throughout high school for a competitive Australian gymnastics team, before an injury made her unable to continue – and that’s when she discovered music. Picking up guitar at 16, she has been playing and writing ever since.

Now 18, the Brisbane, Australia, native has been keeping busy with gigs, songwriting, and recording her own music, with her newest single “Free” available now on Soundcloud, Spotify, and iTunes. Check out Sarah’s website for more information.

WiMN: Had you been playing music and singing before you injury, or is that what kick-started your interest in it?

JS: I had always loved listening to music when I was a kid, but I had never performed beyond school choirs and in the shower. 

WiMN: What is your biggest form of inspiration when writing?

JS: Inspiration comes from everywhere! I particularly like writing about people I meet, how they curve into your life and shape your personality.

WiMN: Who are your major musical influences? What draws you to them?

JS: My musical influences are always changing. At the moment it’s Beyoncé and Florence + the Machine. I am definitely drawn to their strong lyrics. They speak up and say it like it is! It’s empowering singing along to something so personal, powerful and passionate.

WiMN: Do you experience stage fright? What’s something you’ve found to help overcome it?

JS: Sometimes I am ready to tackle anything and I just about run up on stage, and other times I can’t even move because I am so scared. I am trying to learn how to be my best even on my worst days. Getting through the gigs where you just feel “yuck” are the ones that count the most.

WiMN: Do you have any advice to other young ladies in the music world for putting themselves out there?

JS: Don’t underestimate yourself. There are a lot of men in the music industry and it is intimidating. Build your support network and stick with the people who have your back. Overall it’s your team that’s going to get you there.

WiMN: In your music video for “Free,” you’re painting on a canvas. Is painting a hobby and another creative outlet for you?

JS: Yes, I paint a lot. Whenever I have the ideas and the time. Once I ran out of canvases I started painting the insides of the cupboards and bedroom walls of my mum’s house. Now I have access to the stairwell!

WiMN: You were able to overcome a serious injury and turned it into something beautiful with your career in music. What would you tell people struggling with what seems to be an obstacle in life?

JS: I’m no expert, but I try to remember that the only way out is onward. Keep going and it gets better. My favorite quote is by Atul Gawande, “Better is possible. It does not take genius. It takes diligence. It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try.”

WiMN: Are you currently working on an EP or album that’s set to release this year or any touring plans? What can we expect from you for 2015?

JS: At the moment I’m doing gigs around town and really enjoying experimenting with new material. I’ve just come out of a writer’s block, so I am super keen to keep on writing and seeing what comes of that. And I want to say what a privilege it is to be part of WiMN – women are powerful!