There’s truth in the adage that what doesn’t break you only makes you stronger. In Sarah Blasko’s case, it also made her smarter.
As a music loving teen, she was scolded in a terse exchange with her high school music teacher who told her that she didn’t have a musical bone in her body. ‘Why can’t you be more like your sister?’ they said.
The elder of the Blasko girls was known as the singer at the school, often singing at assemblies. Although the teacher’s cutting criticism was harsh and spiteful, Sarah admits that perhaps she wasn’t entirely an innocent party.
I’m a really shy person and I don’t really like being the centre of attention.Sarah Blasko — Don't Look Back
“I think it was in retaliation, because I was talking behind her back because I could see her large underpants beneath her white dress!” she recalls.
“She was sort of a really bad music teacher, in that she was annoyed at you if you couldn’t read music. But I was really interested in music and I loved to sing. My friends and I would make up songs and sing in front of the class.
“I really carry that with me now. I think that’s part of the reason why I wanted to do a solo tour, because I do often tell myself I don’t have a musical bone in my body. But I love music and I love singing so I keep doing it even though I don’t actually know what I’m doing.
“But I feel quite comfortable with that. Some days I don’t feel as comfortable with it as others, but it’s about experimenting. I kind of like the mystery of it and, maybe over the course of my entire life, I’ll finally understand it.”
She had a religious upbringing, but her parents’ music tastes weren’t confined to spiritual fare. She found Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Simon and Garfunkel amongst her dad’s record collection and went on to discover a love of The Elephant Man soundtrack, even though the album’s artwork deeply disturbed her.
“I could almost not be in the same room as the album cover, because I was listening to it when I was seven or eight. He’s got a sack over his head and it’s really dark and he’s got this hat on and it’s really terrifying. But I love the soundtrack, and I’m really glad I grew up with that.”
Another soundtrack that she still holds close is The Sound of Music, especially the song ‘I Have Confidence’. Her friend Ben Fletcher suggested that, as a way to strengthen her resolve on tour, she should sing this to herself before she goes up on stage.
“It’s funny, because I’m a really shy person and I don’t really like being the centre of attention in a lot of ways, but I seem to be able to block it out when I’m doing my own shows,” Blasko says. “It’s a great release, I think I’d be a very different person without it.”
So, emboldened with the confidence and self-belief imbued by Fraulein Maria’s zealous words, what new artistic ventures would Sarah Blasko love to try her talented hands at?
“I would like to do more stuff with film,” she says. “That would be a great because I really love film, it’s such a powerful thing to me, and an inspiring thing to me.
“When music’s done well in a film, it’s incredible, like some of the stuff Warren Ellis has done and Nick Cave is amazing. I do aspire to that, that would be a great thing to do more of.”
Hear more about the song that changed it all for Sarah Blasko on Don't Look Back.