After her July 9 gig on The Bowery Stage at Winnsboro Center for the Arts, Sara Hickman, the 2010 Texas State Musician, is hanging up her guitar strap and bidding adieu to her active performing career.
She gave The Winnsboro News the scoop.
“I’m actually retiring,” she said during a telephone interview from her home in Austin. “You’re the only person I’ve told in the press.”
The Houston native said she first made the announcement during an event in Kerrville.
“We had a great show where everything fell into place,” she explained. “The singing, comedy, timing were perfect. I could feel the love. Everyone was laughing and having a good time.”
Then she dropped the bomb.
“Well, this has been great,” she remembers saying. “And I am retiring.”
She said there was dead silence in the room.
Hickman, who has been performing since she was a student at the high school for the performing and visual arts, did not make the decision to withdraw from the music profession lightly.
“I’ve always been making music,” she said. “I’ve had some huge blessings. I feel really lucky that I got to do all the things I got to do. I got to be on the Johnny Carson Show [singing her 1990 #3 adult contemporary hit ‘I Couldn’t Help Myself’]. I got to sing at Carnegie Hall. I got to go to Europe. I met my childhood hero George Burns. I’m blessed, but I’m super stressed.”
She released 20 records, enjoyed a career as a public speaker and social activist. She’s sung with Billy Bragg, Dan Fogelberg and Nanci Griffith, and has opened for other artists including the Decemberists, John Hiatt and Lucinda Williams.
Hickman, now 53, was given the Humana “Women Helping Women” award for her work with Safe Place, Habitat for Humanity, House for the Homeless, SPCA, Race for the Cure, among others.
She married and had two “amazing girls,” touring all the time, making commercials for such companies as Popeyes and Daisy Sour Cream and doing musical therapy.
Lili, the oldest, is on her own, making commercials and is about to release a record next month.
“I think we’re the only mother/daughter duo to have made commercials,” she noted. “I have Popeye’s and she’s got a commercial coming out later this summer, so we’ll both be on the air.”
iolana, who has two more years of high school, was on a two-week tour of Amsterdam and London with her father.
“She’s going to turn 16 in London,” Hickman said. “She and her dad are looking at fashion colleges.”
Lili and io are their mother’s pride and joy.
“They are bringing forth such amazing fruit,” she said, her voice cracking just a bit. “They really are the most talented people I’ve ever met. They are beautiful young women inside and out and it’s exciting to help them accomplish their dreams.”
As for her career, Hickman says: “I could not have worked any harder than I have. I think I did everything I could to get as accomplished in this business as I could so I could enjoy the fruits of my labor, but I think I reached my glass ceiling. I love being on stage, but getting to the stage and getting home is hard. I just don’t want to be in that pageant anymore.”
She will still take gigs, but she’s not actively pursuing them.
Hickman and her husband, Lance Schriner, have their sights set on an historic home in Belle Plain, Kansas, where Hickman’s friend, Robin Macy, owns Bartlett Arboretum, founded in 1910 by William Bartlett, a local physician.
“There’s not a hotel or bed and breakfast in Belle Plain,” she stated. “And I learned that Dr. Bartlett’s home is for sale. Opening a B&B seems like a natural thing to do. I love serving people and I like to make people happy.”
Once she embraced the idea of leaving her musical career behind, she felt free to pursue other avenues.
She hopes to hold house concerts and creative retreats at the new place, which also has space for a recording studio.
“It was my paralysis for a while, but now it’s cleansing,” she admitted. “I’m open to whatever is going to happen. I hope people will remember my music and know that I really did try hard.”
Doors open at 7 p.m. Show begins at 7:30 p.m.Advanced tickets are $12 for general admission and $20 for reserved – $15 at the door for general admission.
Call 903-342-0686 or visit www.winnsborocenterforthearts.com. Tickets are also available at Winnsboro Emporium.