By Brittany Whitley
Under a peeking moon, many sat before the sunset’s watercolor backdrop, enwrapped in ribbons of acoustic melodies, to experience the end of a good thing. Instantly charming the audience with her soulful voice, Sarah Zúñiga concluded this year’s Rutledge Summer Concert Series (RSCS) at City Park in downtown Rutledge with grace.
Since 2014, the Downtown Rutledge Merchants Association (DRMA) has annually sponsored and booked a variety of local and national artists to perform weekly during the months of June, July, and August in downtown Rutledge.
Despite their competition with football in the month of August, Terry Reeves-Martin, DRMA member and RSCS promoter and talent buyer, says, “We have had greater attendance this year than ever. Overall, our attendance has been up this year”
“When it comes to the artists that perform here, the most important thing is diversity. We want to book something for everyone,” Terry Reeves-Martin states. “Bluegrass is very popular out here so we make sure we have several bluegrass artists, but we also want to be able to say to the young audience that we have Indie artists too, like Sarah tonight.”
Families from Madison, Covington, Monroe, and Greensboro relaxed in lawn chairs and laid on blankets as they enjoyed Zúñiga’s heart-felt harmonies under the stars Friday night.
“This is the first time I have heard Sarah live,” Reeves-Martin notes. “She has a very sweet voice and she’s a great songwriter, so I am well pleased.”
Born in Queens, New York, the Athens singer-songwriter and guitarist began the adventurous journey to her singing dreams at the prime age of 17 and has been able to perform professionally for the past two years. One of Zúñiga’s most recent feats includes a two-week self-funded tour spanning much of the east coast, touching New York, Connecticut, D.C., North Carolina, and Atlanta.
“Personally, I would say my parents are a huge influence on my music because if they were the type of parents to not support my music, I don’t think I would have pursued it,” Zúñiga admits. “I needed their push because I was not at all confident enough to pursue music when I was a teenager, so without them I don’t think I would have.”
The indie folk-rock artist engaged the audience with several original, self-written songs and covered a few mainstream hits as well.
Prior to her Rutledge performance, Zúñiga beamed with anticipation: “I love performing for new people… Seeing new faces and meeting new crowds so that I can interact with different kinds of people is what I’m most excited about.”
That passion for people is exactly what pulled the crowd in on Friday night. Her soothing voice covered the audience in blankets of nostalgia and liberated the soul. Musical influences like Ingrid Michaelson, Regina Spektor, and KT Tunstall have shaped Zúñiga’s songwriting over the years “because they didn’t conform to industry standards, they just wrote music.”
Sarah Zúñiga’s new album can be found on iTunes, Spotify, TIDAL, and her website, sarahzunigamusic.com.