Sarah Gillespie: Singer songwriter with a difference
Published: Apr 7, 2010 20:18 Updated: Apr 7, 2010 20:18
Singer songwriters come and go in the hedonistic music business, many after a few hits become icons for a short while and then fade out without trace. However, once in a while someone comes along who one knows will play an important role not only in the music world but also be at the forefront of the demand for change, Sarah Gillespie is one such person.
Gillespie is a young singer songwriter who is half American, half English, who has already made an impact with her first album called ‘Stalking Juliet’. The album, which was produced and arranged by the famous anti-Zionist musician Gilad Atzmon and consists of titles like ‘Ahmed and Dangerous’ and ‘Call Me Stupid, Ungrateful, Vicious and Insatiable,’ received rave reviews.
This dark haired beauty’s style of singing and lyrics are reminiscent of a time gone by when singer songwriters like Dylan, Joan Baez, and Joni Mitchell stood out from all the hundreds of popular singers who had come and gone leaving little trace or impact.
That is not to say Gillespie is a protest singer, but rather she is singer who is unusually intelligent and reflects the fast paced global environment through her poetic lyrics. Her voice ranges from being soft and sometimes sensitive, but there is also a raw edge there that sometimes indicates anger and maybe even arrogance, which may well be a result of confidence.
The songs and music are an urban mix of different cultures and rhythms, a result of growing up in a melting pot of multiculturalism, which is present day Britain. “I grew up listening to old American blues and artistes like Fats Waller and Bessie Smith, but I am also a fan of modern jazz and classical music. You can hear many of these influences reflected in my music, as well as Middle Eastern colors, for example Oudh is featured in a couple of my recorded songs”.
The heady Middle Eastern mix can to some extent be credited to Gillespie’s producer, the Israeli born Gilad Atzmon who is also member of her band and can be heard playing accordion, clarinet and sax. Stalking Juliet also features the renowned jazz drummer and percussionist, Asaf Sirkis with Ben Bastin on double bass, Billy Adamson on guitar, Sameer Makhoul on violin and John Turville on piano.
With such a strong mixture of talent behind her, Sarah Gillespie has accumulated critical reviews and is touring solidly, playing festivals and venues across the UK and in Italy.
However it is not only on the music front she is making an impact, she loves to write poetry as well as articles on current affairs and has a MA in politics and philosophy.
The famous quote by Martin Luther King which says ‘the ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people’, may be seen as applicable to Gillespie, because when she is not elevating music to a more intelligent level via lyrics that actually mean something, she is also at the forefront of creating awareness by writing political articles.
“I am very captivated by politics; I try to stay constantly aware of what is happening in our world and how it affects all of us.”
“Living in Britain, it is impossible to ignore the effects of the so called ‘war on terror.’ A Jewish man can cultivate his beard to express his faith, but when a Muslim does it he is marked as dangerous extremist harboring murderous ambitions. There is a lot of projection going on. Similarly if a Muslim woman wears a hijab, she is rarely perceived as being proud and devoted to God, she is understood as being oppressed and servile.”
For when Gillespie is not singing songs that reflect love, hope, pain or broken promises, emotions we can all relate to, she is busy writing articles exposing the supremacies she sees as being implicit in Western liberal rhetoric. She says “The mantra of the French Revolution was: ‘Freedom, Equality, Fraternity or death!’ Pragmatically this has now unfolded into its tragic meaning: ‘Be free, equal and secular — or we’ll kill you.’
She explains: “I write because I want to contribute to an awareness of the injustices many people are facing through our government’s actions. If we don’t say anything and keep quite, we remain blindly complicit in this carnage executed in the name of liberty”
Gillespie is a great supporter of the anti-war movement in Britain. However, she also believes that the Left groups, socialists and Marxists could have played a stronger role in preventing the mass onslaught of Islamophobia that is rife in the West.
“I grew up in liberal Britain and while historically the left was aligned with the struggles of oppressed peoples, this proved problematic when it came to Islam. This is because the Left is generally an atheist, feminist movement premised on the western concept of the individual. It celebrates rationality and demeans divinity. Therefore we have British liberals like Nick Cohen or Martin Amis fully endorsing curtailing the rights of Muslims because, paradoxically, they imagine their belief in equality makes them superior. You see the same hypocrisy in the way that feminism is mobilized in the interventionist agenda. Suddenly the left defends or supports the bombing of Afghani women to prevent them from being oppressed by Muslim men. The supremacy is pretty shocking”.
In another article Gillespie writes of the pain she felt after she saw the documentary called ‘Out side the Law — Tales from Guantanamo’ she writes: “The film knits together narratives so heart-wrenching I half wish I had not heard them. Yet the camaraderie between the detainees and occasional humorous anecdotes, such as Binyam Mohammed’s false confession that he tried to induce nuclear fission on April 1st, provide a glimpse into the wit, courage and normalcy of the men we are encouraged to perceive as monsters.”
In an article titled ‘David Miliband and UK complicity in torture’ she highlights Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s attempt to cover up evidence of British involvement in torture of British Muslims in Guantanamo and asks the question, where does Milliband’s loyalties lie?
She writes: “Milliband is not working for British sovereignty, his CV so far for defending the interests of Britain abroad, is not great. Since he took the job he gave Britain’s blessing to Israel’s massacre in Operation Cast Lead, he maintained Britain abstain from voting against the Goldstone Report”.
She further adds “he has stood limply in the wings giving lip service to the Mossad’s use of British passports in their assassination of a prominent Palestinian. Worryingly, it seems the concerns of British sovereignty do not feature high on Miliband’s list of priorities. If they did we could expect that, instead of pushing for a re-write of the law to enable war criminal Tzipi Livni to visit the UK without charge, Miliband might consider adhering to the law that has protected our rights for the last 800 years — and allow Shaker Aamer, who is still held in Guantanamo, to come home.”
Her new album about to be released June 2010, aptly named ‘In the Current Climate’ not only reflects the singers unique style and influences but also her solid stance on issues concerning the state of the world we all live in. Gillespie may have just arrived on the music scene, but she certainly is a ‘breath of fresh air’ to watch out for.
Her website is www.sarahgillespie.com