Sarah Cleary has us singing along to her new single – Loved by Somebody

Sarah Cleary just put out a new music video for her latest single, “Loved by Somebody.” And Wow. Just. Wow. This adorably catchy song has a strong, honest message that hits home. I sat down with the Smule sensation to meet the woman behind the music. You might have seen her before. She’s the internet’s Disney princess of pop music. Her story is even somewhat of a fairytale without the evil stepmother and tragic background. Seriously. One day she was singing covers into her phone on an app to humor her mom. The next thing she knew, she was being flown out to take part in a career-launching opportunity! But let’s backtrack a bit. The 21-year-old singer/songwriter/producer has worked exceedingly hard to develop herself into the incredible talent she is now. 

Cleary found her passion for singing at a very early age, with memories of belting songs from Phantom of the Opera through the house at five years old. Being homeschooled until the 5th grade provided a somewhat sheltered environment where she could freely cultivate her gifts with nothing but support from her mother, who I jokingly refer to as her fairy godmother, because everything she pointed her daughter towards has all quite magically led her to where she is now. Her first time performing for an official crowd was in the 5th grade when she auditioned for a solo in solidarity with a friend and accidentally won the role! When her mother witnessed the insane crowd response, she pushed her to audition for a large city choir. Upon auditioning for her age group, the director made the decision to place the then 11-year-old singer with adult women. As the only child amidst professionally trained singers who could sight-read, she felt the positive pressure to rise to the occasion and hold her own.

This experience was just a preview of how Cleary would continue to stand out. From there she pursued more stages with her mother as a constant stream of encouragement. Her first dose of rejection came when she entered a contest at her county’s fair. She learned how unfair and cliquey competitions can be, with biased judges that weren’t about to hand their stage to newcomers. “It was traumatizing… scarring,” she recalls. At such an innocent stage in her budding career, it hit her extremely hard. It’s these experiences that cause her to hesitate even now when it comes to shows like The Voice and American Idol. “Whatever you produce is your baby,” she explains, “When people come at you with something you don’t expect, it feels like actual attacks on you, even though it’s your product. You gotta have a lot of confidence, even though that’s so difficult.” She hasn’t written off the idea of contests completely because of the incredible platform they provide, but she wants to be careful, and wisely so. Her creative process has been mostly protected, and she treasures being able to make music without the boxes and superficial packaging many signed artists are subjected to. I commend her choice to retain creative control. The girl’s got nothing but talent and time on her side, and she’s already well on her way—all because her mother insisted that she start sharing her talent on the karaoke app, Smule. 

Cleary wanted singing to be a career, not a silly hobby, so she brushed it off at first. But after being pushed a bit, she gave in to her mom’s requests and posted a few cover songs with no real expectations. “She would literally be like ‘Go sing a song’ and I’d be like … ‘Ok, fine’,” Cleary laughs, “The more I worked at it, the more it grew.” Her videos steadily attracted new fans until her audience increased to a mind-blowing 100,000 followers. What happened soon afterward changed her life. Smule invited then 15-year-old Sarah Cleary to star in a music video that would be shared with their audience and beyond. This big taste of what was possible shifted everything. “Omg, ppl were flying me out for my voice!” she reflects on that pivotal moment, “It kinda gave me more faith in myself.” She was able to boldly affirm within herself what she’d always known but was afraid to dream was possible. “I wanna do this for the rest of my life is all I could think. It was the proof that my dream wasn’t so crazy after all.” 

She continued growing her online audience and honing her craft. A big part of her artist development was her vocal coach, who she had been meeting with since her time in the city choir, a Berkley music production class, and a Portland University State professor who had heard her music and decided to mentor her in engineering. Then at age 19, she was contacted to do a commercial by Smule featuring the hit song “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s Moana. The video is currently approaching 3.7 million views. Go Sarah! 

It’s inspiring to watch purpose pursue a person who is simply leaning in to who they are with the support of their awesome family. So often we hear about broken roads and broken families with intensely dark events paving the way for an artist’s breakthrough after years of soul-crushing struggle. We love and need those epically beautiful stories. But this narrative of a down-to-earth homeschooled girl who softly stumbles into her power simply by following her love is surprisingly beautiful and epic its own way. It’s a love story—love of family and of music. Love, in its many forms, is a powerful thing and something we all crave to receive and express. It’s also the subject of her new single featuring Veux. Though covers are what she’s most famous for, her fans know as you will soon learn that her original music is fire. And as she evolves as a woman, so does her music and the topics she explores. Her last collaborative music video was for her song “In My Head” with hip-hop artist Enkay47. It’s deeply intense, about overcoming trauma by adjusting the lens through which we look. This most recent music video is a fun, poppy sound with a sentiment we can all relate to. Check out the music video for “Loved by Somebody” and follow Sarah Cleary to see all the exciting things she has coming. You can even sign up for vocal coaching from her on her website! Now that she’s found her stride, (cue Disney music) there’s no telling how far she’ll go.

Author: Gabrielle Solange

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