SAGE APPROPRIATE Rachael Sage

Helming her record label MPress
and always out to impress, the singer-songwriter is a renaissance women who
seemingly can’t be repressed…

 

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

 

There are few things that Rachael Sage doesn’t do, whether
it’s running her own record label, MPress Records, or maintaining a successful
career as a recording artist operating under her own aegis. But then, once her
other credits as a painter, dancer, actress and comedienne are added to the
list… well, suffice it to say that this renaissance woman’s list of
accomplishments start looking pretty dazzling.

 

 


Rachael Sage- Invisible Light by MMMusic

 

 

She’s currently celebrating the release of her tenth album,
the luminous Haunted By You, an
album that delves deeply into the rollercoaster cycle of relationships –
passion, infatuation, loss, longing and all the myriad of emotions that
accompany immediate and long term entanglement – and licking her own wounds at
the same time. The songs were actually inspired by her
separation from her boyfriend of four years, who she calls “the kindest, most
balanced person I’ve ever dated. He was much more traditional than me though… touring
slowly took its toll.”

 

Although the songs aren’t necessarily biographical in the
strictest sense, the album – which also features a cameo from Dar Williams —
was drawn from a personal perspective. “I adopted
that voice to convey the widest range of emotions while exploring the ups and
downs of love over a relatively brief period,” she concedes. “I was ricocheting
from romances that were really amazing, to some I thought were really going to
wreck me.”

 

Considering the accolades that have already come her way, it
seems all the emotional upheaval she endured might have actually been worth it.
If she did indeed suffer for her art, so too it’s safe to say her art is that
much better for it. “We go into our little safety place and come out the other
end and don’t quite know what we have,” she says in retrospect.

 

Of course, Sage is simply being modest. Considering her
accomplishments as both an artist and an entrepreneur – among them, teaching
herself piano at the age of three, winning an ASCAP Pop Songwriting Award by
the time she turned 16, being chosen one of the “top 100 independent artists of
the past 15 years” by a national music journal – Sage has good reason to bask in
her success. Her latest accomplishments have been especially gratifying – most
notably, a recent Grammy nod accorded MPress in the engineering category for
label artist Seth Glier’s The Next Right
Thing
and the successful launch of a new album by veteran artist Melissa
Ferrick. “I’ve always had one foot in business,” she concedes. “Even as a
little kid and then later as a teenager, I had several small businesses where
I’d make things and sell them, and that came naturally to me. I was one of
those young people who was always hustling and trying to put my strengths
forward. But then there are other things I’m always struggling with and they
keep me up half the night. Fortunately, I have a fine team of people and they
help fine-tune everything. Of course, it also helps to enjoy hard work and
survive on very little sleep.”

 

Indeed, over the past decade, MPress has transitioned from a
modest homegrown endeavor she managed out of her own apartment into a
fully-functioning record label that employs a small staff and signs other
artists, Glier and Ferrick included. In fact, the label was initially founded
solely as for the purpose of releasing her first album, Morbidly Romantic, in 1996, but a mere five years into the venture,
she opted to take it to that next level.
At the same time, her artistic career was also beginning to take off, leading
her to share stages shared with Sarah McLachlan, Judy Collins, Marc Cohn, Eric
Burdon, John Lee Hooker, Colin Hay, Ani DiFranco and more. Her confidence grew
accordingly, and eventually she began integrating some comedic commentary into
her performances, while also branching out into acting, dance and art.

 

“I was trying to fill my dance card as much as I could,” she
chuckles.

 

Born in Port Chester, New Jersey,
Sage initially studied drama and ballet before coming under the spell of her
parents’ eclectic record collection. After teaching herself piano, she began
recording her own primitive demos and writing her first songs. She earned a
degree in Drama form Stanford University, took part in the Actors Studio MFA
program, gained admission to the School of American Ballet and eventually
gained her first taste of public recognition when she was accorded honors in
the New York Talent Search competition which won her a place on the Village Stage of the 1997 Lilith Fair. In the
interim, she’s seen her accolades and appeal multiply accordingly

 

“I think I’m allergic to the word ‘satisfied’,” Sage
suggests. “I don’t know if I’m capable of being satisfied. I don’t even know
what that means. But I am extremely grateful for the life this dream has
granted me, and the people who have inspired me and continue to inspire me
constantly. I feel this is just the tip of the iceberg.” 

 

 

 

 

 

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