In 1996, Rachael Sage did something totally wacky.
Things were beginning to change in the music industry, but no one knew yet just how much of a systemic seismic shift was coming, and it was then that Sage started her own New York City record company, MPress Records. As its premier offering, she issued her own debut, Morbid Romantic. It was a time when female singer/songwriters were the “in” thing: Melissa Etheridge, Ani DiFranco, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Indigo Girls, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, and Natalie Merchant held court.
Into that fray dove Sage, and here she is 20 years on with a dozen of her own albums to complement a manageable list of artists on her label.
Early on, the self-taught multi-instrumentalist arranged her songs somewhat evenly on guitar and piano, and instilled in them a hint of DiFrancoishness, but as the years and albums accumulated the four-time Independent Music Award winner allowed her graceful piano playing and solid commitment to melody to take her to lush musicscapes loosely co-occupied by Amos, Bruce Hornsby & The Range, early Norah Jones, and Marc Cohn.
But it’s the way she uses her voice, effortlessly gliding from a breathy hush to full-on nasal belts, that allows Sage to claim her own unique place on that list. Or as Uncut magazine so succinctly put it, Rachael Sage is “one part Elton John, one part Kate Bush.”
Her latest release, 2016’s Choreographic, was written to a very central theme. “Making this album was a meditation on my lifelong relationship to ballet and more recently, to lyrical dance. Connecting to music through dance is what prompted me to become a songwriter in the first place.”
By age 12, Sage was dancing at the Lincoln Center in classical ballets like The Nutcracker—and making demos of her songs. These days those songs have appeared on MTV, HBO, the Fame soundtrack, and frequently on Lifetime’s reality series Dance Moms. With so much of her work being embraced by the dance community—nearly 10 million combined hits on YouTube—she started to ponder the relationship between her songwriting and dancing.
“As I was thinking about recording a follow-up to my last album, Blue Roses, I asked myself: ‘What if you set about making a whole record with the intention for it to be combined with dance?’”
So Rachael Sage, who performs 100+ dates a year throughout the US, UK, and Europe, allowed Choreographic to be inspired by a so-called “ballet-pop” concept, imagining each song as a fully choreographed multimedia experience.
Official site: www.rachaelsage.com