Featured photo by @marjay
Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Nashville’s Sarah Manzo. Together we discussed musical theatre, mental health, their influences, and their most recent single “The Truth.”
1. Mustard is grateful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you doing today?
I’m doing well! I’m dealing with the trials and tribulations of post-grad life, and I’ve been learning to balance the business as well as the creative sides of my artistry. I’ve also been spending time collaborating with my peers in Nashville, writing lots of new music, and creating opportunities for both myself and fellow artists in the community!
2. You grew up in musical theatre. Could you share more about your experience in musical theatre?
Sure! I’ve been performing since before I can remember. My mom was a singer and encouraged me to join community theatre, and I fell in love with live performance. I grew up about 10 miles outside of NYC, and in high school, I would always try to sneak a Wednesday matinee in during my internship. Oops. My passion for theatre led me to study at Cap21 Conservatory/ Molloy College, where I earned a musical theater and marketing/communications degree.
3. If you could turn any play (or musical) into a concept album what would it be and why? Do you have a favorite musical?
Beauty and the Beast. It’s a universal message about loving someone despite their flaws. It’s important not to judge people based on status and appearance.
For example, Gaston is a popular and beautiful man but his personality … garbage!
My opinion… be with who makes your soul shine.
4. What song (or album) inspired you to begin making music?
After a heartbreak, I started listening to Emily King’s album, Scenery. New York can feel lonely, but Emily’s music always kept me company.
I would walk around the city with my headphones in and belt her music. This inspired me to sing out the melodies I heard in my head, and I eventually ran with it.
5. You’re from New Jersey and reside in Nashville. How do these environments help shape your music?
Both New Jersey and Nashville have music in their DNA. Some of my biggest idols, like Frank Sinatra and Whitney Houston, grew up close to my hometown. Moving to Nashville gave me a new perspective on country music, and I gained great respect for artists like Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. Though some think of Nashville as a country music city, I quickly realized that this city has a place for all types of music and is a melting pot for all genres.
6. Who (or what) influences you?
My biggest musical influences are Amy Winehouse, Lianne La Havas, Alicia Keys, and Leon Bridges. I love how these artists take inspiration from their predecessors while making their music modern and specific to their authentic selves. They celebrate their individuality!
Taylor Swift has been a lyrical inspiration for me since I was little! Swift has a brilliant ability of connecting to her audience with universal subject matter that is stated originally.
And I have also recently become obsessed with Ashe!
7. How important is individuality in a society that encourages conformity?
I think that is the point of our existence; constantly evolving and discovering who we are and what we value. It’s so important to trust yourself and not allow the influence of others to change your values or define who you are.
No one can ever replicate you- so be unapologetically yourself and never feel like you need to be someone else or compare yourself to others. It’s much easier said than done, but our weird quirks and the things that make us different are our superpower!
Discovering who you are is a lifelong journey. Change is inevitable, and you will always keep growing. But that’s a great thing! Because the learning never stops.
8. In 2020 you released your single “No Plans.” What was the inspiration behind this single? Did you originally have no plans to release it?
No Plans was one of the first songs I’ve written. I wrote it before the pandemic happened, and I was still in the very early stages of my musical career.
We plan a lot of our life, trying to create a structure…. And No Plan is about letting go and allowing life to flow.
One lyric from this song that I love… “Have you reached for something that you wanted so bad that you thought that you needed, but you already have?” This lyric reminds me that every time something doesn’t turn out the way I thought it would, I just need to remember that I have everything I need already within myself.
9. What advice would you give to those struggling with their mental health?
For those struggling with their mental health, the best advice I could give is to not give up. Help is out there. Even if you feel like you don’t have the resources at this time, there is always a way to find help. There are a lot of free resources out there- for example, the Crisis Hotline.. This isn’t something you should be embarrassed to use if you need somebody to talk to.
I’ve had a long journey with my mental health, and I still face struggles. It took a while for me to find the right health routine. The little things like exercise and spending time outside are so important. Same with taking time away from social media to get your mind and body balanced.
I’m also very picky with who I give my time to. Your energy is precious, so spend time with those who lift you up! Cutting out negative people has changed my life.
10. In your most recent single “The Truth” you confess not to getting over someone. Was this single inspired by actual events?
The Truth was inspired by a situation that was going on with a friend at the time. Even though the person wasn’t treating her right, it was hard for her to escape that relationship. Unhealthy relationships can feel addictive, and the Truth is about the heightened emotion of feeling like you can never get over someone, but you ALWAYS CAN!
11. Can you share any news about your debut album?
My debut album is in the works! I plan on releasing a couple of singles before I release the album in its entirety. Look for songs coming in 2023!
This project feels the most authentic to myself. I really broke out of the construct of genre and wrote whatever felt honest to me. Each song is based on an intense emotion or situation I’ve dealt with throughout my life. My goal is for others to feel heard in this album and to help encourage their healing. I pull influence from my musical theater roots and there is lots of live instrumentation! My heart has gone into this project and I’m so grateful for my team and the love they have put into it. I can’t wait to share it with the world!
12. What’s next for Sarah Manzo?
Trying to be patient with myself. It’s really hard not to rush myself to release this album. I want to give it the time it deserves and share it with the world only when it’s ready. But I have some shows coming up that I’m really excited about. I am working closely with my team continuing to build my brand. I want to be intentional with messages I share with the world, and be a voice to those that are struggling and bring light to the growing pains of life.
13. Where can readers listen to your music?
I’m on all streaming platforms! I am mostly active on Instagram, @SarahManzoMusic! I can’t wait to connect with you all, and for everyone to hear my upcoming music.