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A Look into Sarah Free’s Musical Journey: From Young Creativity to Exploring New Sounds at Lipscomb

Ever since she was young, Sarah Free, a senior songwriting major from Hendersonville, TN, had a passion for music. “Before I could talk, I was humming,” Free says, “the classic thing, and just kind of making up songs when I was little on like whatever instrument I could get my hands on.” Free switched from public to a private Christian school when her family moved to Tennessee after her eighth grade year. She says that move had a vital role in her decision to pursue music. 

“I was able to do a lot of musical things and was kind of like affirmed in my creativity. They were pretty welcoming there so that kind of helped me push forward into thinking that was something I wanted to do full-time.”

Don Chaffer, Lipscomb’s artist in residence, director of commercial ensemble, and coordinator of songwriting, describes Free as having a bubbly personality. “She’s like a roman candle. She’s just full of joy and she just sort of, she’s always game to lead the class or group in being vulnerable and personable,” says Chaffer.

Free found consuming music as a fan to be influential in her art. People listen to the music that resonates with them, and this is true for Free. “I see a lot of grunge kinda like laced through my mainstream pop-sounding stuff,” says Free. “I’ve been listening to like female screamo which is stuff I’ve been working on.” 

Free writes music based off her feelings. Her diverse set of interests allows her to experiment with her music. Self-described as “sad girl pop” but now leaning more towards an alternative, “baby grunge” her music takes on a unique sound. Drawing inspiration from artists like Billie Eilish, Adrianne Lenker, Indigo De Souza, Mitski, and Lipscomb Alums, mercury, Free makes music for the emotional and free-spirted. 

Lipscomb offers music students unique resources and opportunities that build connections that are valuable to young musicians. Free says “having an opportunity to present my work to guest speakers and be able to have it critiqued by people that are actually in the industry has been very helpful.” From guest speakers, connections outside of the university and supportive professors, the School of Music has been beneficial to its students. 

One unique opportunity that Free has received through Lipscomb is the chance to write for film and TV. As a more recent endeavor, Free is writing with people on this side of the industry and has pitched original music for television. 

Don Chaffer says that the department prepares students through experience in the craft. “We set them up for musical knowledge and lyrical knowledge and all the stuff that has to do with how to write well and how to write better,” says Chaffer.  

The School of Music provides students with first-hand experience in the industry, through its internship and other programs. For example, students have the opportunity to perform for their peers at The Well Coffeehouse through Lipscomb practicum, Red Dog Productions. Chaffer says that “[The music department’s] internship and practicum stuff has resulted in a bunch of different students getting gigs and/or jobs in that way so it’s, I’d say it’s the craft, the business, the connections, and then the industry experience.”

Free says that performing allows her to share her music with others and create a fun space at the same time. “It’s nice to feel like I’m doing it for something because, though I do it for myself, I also do it for other people… I’m a people person so I like to look and see and interact and make it fun.” Free has created memorable experiences for audiences with performances at The Well Coffeehouse and the latest Johnson Porch Concert.

Last year, Free organized a writing retreat to bond with fellow classmates— a testament to her friendly, go-getting personality. Feeling like covid created a separation between the students in her class, Free wanted a chance to connect outside of school. The students spent the weekend hanging out and co-writing songs together. “Everybody that went said it was amazing,” says Chaffer. 

“As a department, we encourage a lot of collaboration both within the department and also outside of the department,” says Chaffer. “Connections that you make here are ones that, I know students that have graduated from college together that are still working together three years later, so those connections are vital.” 

As Free nears graduation, she says that her biggest take away from her time at Lipscomb is to be kind to others. “Know that everyone has like something to offer so don’t just shut somebody completely down because there’s something valuable in what they’re saying even if you can’t see it,” says Free. “Knowing that people are the most important thing in all of it and to not let a following or a potential opportunity be the distraction to become something you aren’t designed to be.” 

You can listen to Sarah Free’s music here: Spotify Apple Music

You can also find her on Instagram to keep up with her latest content here: Instagram