In My Place: Singer Sarah White Finds Herself in Brooklyn


Straddling two identities can be draining—always jumping from one persona to the other, never feeling quite comfortable in either pair of shoes. It reminds me of the scene from The Departed, when sergeant Digman (Mark Wahlberg) is grilling cadet Billy Costigan (Leonardo Dicaprio), whose opposing ties to Boston’s North Shore, where his re-married mother lives and the less fortunate Southie, where his deceased father’s family resides, makes him untrustworthy to Digman. “You had different accents,” Digman sneers, “You did, didn’t you, you little fuckin’ snake?”

This is the type of identity crisis I imagine 27-year-old singer/songwriter Sarah White confronted in her youth in Minneapolis, Minnesota, living a poor neighborhood while attending fancy private schools in the city’s wealthy areas.

“I was never ‘ghetto’ enough and I was never ‘white’ enough,” Sarah remembers. “I didn’t realize that I could be happy with myself and that I could be beautiful.”

Sarah is beautiful. A striking juxtaposition of curved, snarling lips and tender, black eyes, I suppose that it must be hard for her to go unnoticed. Before moving to Brooklyn, she became the most likely candidate for the “face of women in the Minneapolis hip-hop scene.” She was also a founding member of politically driven hip-hop collective, Traditional Methods, and the avant-garde girl-group, Black Blondie, which she still proclaims as “the most genre-breaking group [she’d] ever been in.”

But “something was lacking” for Sarah, and just as Black Blondie was finding a place for itself in independent music, Sarah decided to split.

“I just wasn’t really happy,” Sarah sighs. “I just needed to work with women of color.”

Still seeking self and unwilling to accept the persona of a Minneapolis female MC, Sarah set her sights on Brooklyn as the location for a reinvention of sorts. Fast-forward to her present reality. No longer a “rapper,” Sarah’s accepts another dual identity—singing and flowing on her solo tracks. She lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn with her partner, Producer Rico (a.k.a. DJ Don Cuco) and their daughter. Hustlers by day, Rico and Sarah record songs at night in their apartment.

Her music reflects a level of honesty that most of us envy, speaking to the identity of the present and relaying the feelings of the moment. Feelings like I want to dance… I want my roots… I’m a mother… I work for tips… I love you so much… I want to leave you, but I don’t know how… Let’s make love…

Smokey melodic vocals and poignant spoken word are mixed with Rico’s jazzy electronic beats sparked with drum n’ bass and dancehall rhythms.

“It’s his love for music and my need to release my heart,” Sarah says of her album Hiding Blind—released last fall—which she calls her demo.

Outside of the house, Sarah’s recorded a new track, “Fall 4 You” with Brooklyn producer/DJ Dhundee, who has been playing her music all over New York City—most recently at the Friends We Love Arts and Music Festival in January.

Here are two tracks from the Hiding Blind EP, available on iTunes!


Dance On Mars

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