A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 58: Sarah Sang


some people put their lives into a dream

i put my life inside a song

i believed like believers believe

in the song, in the song, in the song 

Sarah sang for us on Saturday night. She looked right into our eyes as she sang. Is that so unusual? Think about it: How often have you experienced that? And if you have, how long were you able to gaze back, directly into the performer’s eyes? It is a soul-to-soul connection, a fearful connection, but Sarah never wavered. Sarah is fearless. Sarah will sing a song that enters your eyes and makes its way to your toes and back again, giving a spark in return to her as you meet that gaze, and then back again. It was human-to-human, and more than a little magical.

Sarah MacDougall is a Swedish-Canadian singer-songwriter who claims she mistakenly lives in the Yukon. She performed at a house concert my wife and I attended last week in Russell, Ontario. As I experienced her music and her courageous presentation, I realized I was watching a Dangerous Creative live and in person. My wife described her performance using words like “visceral” and “honest”. Her songs were direct and vulnerable. She put herself out there complete in body, spirit and mind. She took the risks great artists take. The song was her vehicle but she was the engine, boldly flying down that road despite the curves and potholes of traveling that human highway.

After that evening of music and more than music, I realized that what separates the good artist from the great artist is that complete commitment to vulnerability, to creating dangerously, to nakedly taking on the world.  The great artists are really exposed nerves, but they are exposed for all our benefit, as pain is a warning, a message, a necessity for survival.  The toll this takes on the artist is immense. So often they deal with depression, with extreme self-doubt, with a feeling of isolation from the world around them because their inner world is the only place they feel at home. This is often misunderstood. They are branded as “moody” or “eccentric” or “self-absorbed” or “freak”. The calling they have can be the curse of the prophet: Given a divine Word to speak that may get them sawed in two.

Sarah helped me feel, again, an immense gratitude for artists who take risks and walk that knife’s edge in life. We may not realize just how much we owe them. She also helped me see what I need to be willing to expose. She helped me to seek the courage to gaze directly into someone’s eyes, even the stranger. She helped me to grasp a bit more what being an artist can be if you’re open to the calling.

The world needs the fearless because it is so full of fear. The world needs more Sarahs. It needs more Dangerous Creatives, maybe more than ever.

Below is a link to a YouTube video of Sarah’s song “I Want to See the Light”

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