Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

MUSIC Sawyer Fredericks talks 'The Voice,' artistic freedom, coming out as bi
by Andrew Davis
2023-04-26

This article shared 3882 times since Wed Apr 26, 2023
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Life has been a whirlwind for Sawyer Fredericks, who won season eight of the NBC show The Voice at age 16 several years ago.

Since that triumph, Fredericks (who explores various aspects of folk music in his records) has released several items, including the EP The Golden Tree earlier this year. However, unlike many winners of music-competition programs, he walked away from a major record deal to follow his heart and pursue creative freedom. Regarding his personal life, Fredericks officially came out as bisexual last year, saying that the reactions have been varied.

This conversation was edited for length and clarity.

Windy City Times: I want to start with The Voice, which must seem like a lifetime ago…

Sawyer Fredericks: Yes—and very recent! [Laughs]

WCT: Indeed. I'm a little curious about what made you go with [judge] Pharrell Williams. I thought you would go with Blake Shelton.

SF: I thought I would go with Blake or Adam Levine because I thought their music was closer to my kind of sound. But it actually came down to what they said on the show. They cut out a lot of what the judges said, but Pharrell talked about how my sound reminded him of other artists. I could tell that he was very, very into the music and he asked me about my inspirations; he was inspired by it. That spoke to me as very honest and real. Blake was just, like, "So you grew up on a farm, huh? That's country." [Laughs]

WCT: It must've been surreal when you won. How long did it take before it really [sank in]?

SF: It didn't really set in for a bit. It was a whirlwind after the show. I was immediately in the studio recording and I was back in New York City to do interviews on TV stations—so it didn't feel like the show was quite over. It probably sank in after I released the A Good Storm album [in 2016].

WCT: I understand that you actually walked away from a major record deal. What gave you the courage to do that?

SF: That record deal that I got after The Voice was with Republic Records. I left them really because I felt I wasn't getting enough creative freedom. I felt they were pushing me into a style I didn't want to be in. I just didn't want that. I've been very happy since I left.

WCT: I listened to Flowers for You and The Golden Tree. Regarding the video for the single "The Golden Tree," where did you find the people?

SF: Actually, the director for that was Jenny He and she also did "Born," off Flowers for You, as well. The dancer in "The Golden Tree" video was a friend of hers and I think the painter was actually the videographer. Both of those people had been working in the arts; when I suggested to Jenny that it'd be cool to show three people starting in the arts from a very young age, she reached out to those people and they had pictures of themselves when they were kids. You should also check out "Born" as well.

WCT: Are you a big believer in covers?

SF: I'm not a big fan of putting them in my albums but I'll do them as singles. When I release an album, I want it to be all my work—although that may change at some point.

WCT: Who would be your dream collaborator?

SF: That's always a hard question for me because I don't know what writing styles people might have. But I probably say John Fogerty, Ray LaMontagne or maybe Florence and the Machine. I love her writing and she has such powerful songs.

WCT: You talked about finding creative freedom and your own voice—no pun intended. [Fredericks laughs.] Would you say that's the most important lesson you've learned about music?

SF: Yes, as well as being open. Something I'm starting to learn now is to not try to take control too much. When I released the Hide Your Ghost album [in 2018], I feel like I was being a bit nitpicky; I wanted everything a certain way. I'm trying to let the [other musicians] express their creative freedom—and I feel like I got that with Flowers for You. Also, be open to working with others and don't always assume you know what's best.

WCT: Regarding The Golden Tree, how would you describe that EP?

SF: So I feel the sound is very inspired by me watching the movie O Brother, Where Are Thou? I think of the folk ballads from that movie. I think it was, like [singing], "As I went down to the river to pray…" It's that kind of comforting sound—that's what I wanted to capture, especially with [the band] The Accidentals doing strings and harmonies. It definitely has a melancholic feel.

WCT: But it also sounds a tad hopeful.

SF: Oh, for sure—especially with the song "So Smooth," which is why I picked that song to end the EP. I normally want my EPs to end on a more hopeful note because the rest of the songs can have their ups and downs. "Lonely Bear" is about my dad; I love him to death but the songs [deals with] elements of toxic masculinity.

WCT: You mentioned collaboration earlier and your upcoming show features a co-bill with Chastity Brown. What can you tell our readers about her?

SF: She's touring on her newest album, Sing to the Walls, and I hadn't heard a lot of her music until I started touring with her. She's really incredible live. She has a very soulful, bluesy sound and was almost like a one-[woman] band. I think she has a full backing band now; I haven't heard her with that [setup] yet.

WCT: Switching to your personal life, I know you came out as bisexual last year. How has the general reception been?

SF: It's been mostly good but there have been some strange [reactions]. I've always been open about it; I just hadn't officially posted about it. I was a bit shocked by everyone's reactions. Suddenly, I was in the papers. I hadn't expected that because it was just a posting; it wasn't like I said it on a reality-TV show. [Both laugh.]

Most of the reception was good but I also received messages like, "You're an abomination." That took me aback because these people don't know me and they're judging me. It was very hurtful—plus some patrons just immediately left.

WCT: To me, bisexual people occupy a very unique position because they seem to get blowback from within the [LGBTQ+] community as well as outside of it about being undecided about their sexuality.

SF: I did notice that. Some people have said, "Sawyer would never actually come out as gay," and I'm like, "What are you talking about?" Also, I'm in a heterosexual relationship right now so I got some blowback about that.

WCT: And the terminology can change rapidly.

SF: I'm beginning to feel like I'm demisexual—attracted to someone I have a close emotional [attachment] to.

WCT: And then there's being sapiosexual, which is an attraction to intelligence.

SF: Interesting—I hadn't heard of that. There are so many! When I came out as bisexual, I was unaware of the different things I could be when I was growing up; you were either gay or straight. I figured that, since I liked women, I was straight. [Laughs] But I'm ever-changing.

WCT: And would that be your advice to the next generation of LGBTQ+ people—to be yourself? It can be really tough, as in Florida, where students can't talk about sexuality in school.

SF: That's just insane. I also have a lot of things about school in general; I grew up on school [but] never went. [Laughs]

[But for advice,] I would say to always embrace who you are to embrace change whenever it comes to you.

WCT: Is there anything you wanted to add?

SF: As for The Golden Tree, my plan for the rest of the album is to make it a folk-rock one. The first half will be folk and the second half will have more of a rock sound. I'm still writing all the rock songs, but that's my general plan.

Sawyer Fredericks will be performing at City Winery Chicago, 1200 W. Randolph St., on Wed., May 3, at 8 p.m. See citywinery.com/CHICAGO/Online/default.asp .


This article shared 3882 times since Wed Apr 26, 2023
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Jerrod Carmichael, '9-1-1' actor, Kayne the Lovechild, STARZ shows, Cynthia Erivo
2024-04-12
Gay comedian/filmmaker Jerrod Carmichael criticized Dave Chappelle, opening up about the pair's ongoing feud and calling out Chappelle's opinions on the LGBTQ+ community, PinkNews noted, citing an Esquire article. Carmichael ...


Gay News

Judith Butler focuses on perceptions of gender at Chicago Humanities Festival talk
2024-04-10
In an hour-long program filled with dry humor—not to mention lots of audience laughter—philosopher, scholar and activist Judith Butler (they/them) spoke in depth on their new book at Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., on ...


Gay News

Andersonville Chamber announces Andersonville Midsommarfest entertainment lineup
2024-04-09
--From a press release - CHICAGO (April 8, 2024) — The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce (ACC) is pleased to announce the full entertainment line-up for Andersonville Midsommarfest, one of Chicago's oldest and most beloved summer ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Outfest, Chita Rivera, figure skaters, letter, playwright dies
2024-04-05
For more than four decades, Outfest has been telling LGBTQ+ stories through the thousands of films screened during its annual Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival—but that event may have a different look this year because ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Dionne Warwick, OUTshine, Ariana DeBose, 'Showgirls,' 'Harlem'
2024-03-29
Video below - Iconic singer Dionne Warwick was honored for her decades-long advocacy work for people living with HIV/AIDS at a star-studded amfAR fundraising gala in Palm Beach, per the Palm Beach Daily News. Warwick received the "Award of ...


Gay News

'Rumors' performers create alternative drag playground
2024-03-24
At first glance, Dorian's Through The Record Shop (1939 W. North Ave.) looks like a brightly-lit shop with a handful of records on the wall, but there's a secret world behind those unassuming shelves. Visitors are ...


Gay News

WORLD Uganda items, HIV report, Mandela, Liechtenstein, foreign minister weds
2024-03-21
It turned out that U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Senior LGBTQI+ Coordinator Jay Gilliam traveled to Uganda on Feb. 19-27, per The Washington Blade. He visited the capital of Kampala and the nearby city of ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Queer musicians, Marvel situation, Elliot Page, Nicole Kidman
2024-03-21
Queer musician Joy Oladokun released the single "I Wished on the Moon," from Jack Antonoff's official soundtrack for the new Apple TV+ series The New Look, per a press release. The soundtrack, ...


Gay News

THEATER Chicago's City Lit has anxiety on tap with 'Two Hours in a Bar'
2024-03-21
Two Hours in a Bar Waiting for Tina Meyer by Kristine Thatcher with material by Larry Shue Text Me by Kingsley Day (Book, Music and Lyrics). At: City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.. Tickets: ...


Gay News

Lollapalooza announces lineup; SZA, Skrillex among headliners
2024-03-19
Lollapalooza has released its line-up for the event that's taking place Aug. 1-4 at Grant Park. Headliners include SZA, Blink-182, Skrillex, The Killers, Hozier, Melanie Martinez and Stray Kids, among others. Some of the other acts ...


Gay News

RuPaul finds 'Hidden Meanings' in new memoir
2024-03-18
RuPaul Andre Charles made a rare Chicago appearance for a book tour on March 12 at The Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave. Presented by National Public Radio station WBEZ 91.5 FM, the talk coincided with ...


Gay News

Jamie Barton brings nuances of identity to her Lyric Opera 'Aida' performance
2024-03-18
Chicago's Lyric Opera is currently featuring a production of Giuseppe Verdi's Aida starring Michelle Bradley as Aida, Jamie Barton as Amneris and Russell Thomas as Radamès. The opera runs through April 7, 2024, with Francesca Zambello ...


Gay News

Oprah, Niecy Nash-Betts honored at GLAAD Media Awards
2024-03-15
Oprah Winfrey and Niecy Nash-Betts were honored at the 35th Annual GLAAD Media Awards that took place in Los Angeles at The Beverly Hilton on March 14. Winfrey received the Vanguard Award, introduced by iconic Chicago ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Lady Gaga, 'P-Valley,' Wendy Williams, Luke Evans, 'Queer Eye,' 'Transition'
2024-03-15
Lady Gaga came to the defense of Dylan Mulvaney after a post with the trans influencer/activist for International Women's Day received hateful responses, People Magazine noted. On Instagram, Gaga stated, "It's appalling to me that a ...


Gay News

House-music festival on Aug. 30-Sept. 1; icons, Idris Elba to be part of it
2024-03-13
The ARC Music Festival—an event celebrating house music—will take place Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at Chicago's Union Park, per WGN-TV. This will mark the fourth year that the festival will celebrate the genre at Union Park—less than ...


 


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.