By Ned Bekavac
It is with a heavy heart that Sarah Felker heads into the biggest performance of her young musical career Sunday.
The 19-year-old singer-songwriter was shaken by the news this week that her cousin, Kelsey Louise Felker, 24, was found dead in Kitchener in what is being investigated as a homicide.
“I think it’s terrible that something so tragic had to happen. She was so young,” said Sarah on Wednesday. “My heart goes out to my uncle. But as a professional musician I have to focus on Sunday’s show, and try and make it the best show possible in memory of her.”
The Trib hung out with Felker last week, where she called the Hillside Inside gig her “biggest show yet.”
“I don’t even know really what to feel right now,” she said. “When the day comes closer I’m going to be nervous and excited.”
On Sunday night, while two teams are duking it out on football’s biggest stage for the Super Bowl, Felker will be gracing Guelph’s biggest stage at the River Run Centre for the closing night of Hillside Inside. She is opening for K’NAAN as part of the three-day music-and-more festival.
Felker fondly recalls seeing live music at the River Run when she was in elementary school.
“I remember coming here when I was in, like, Grade 7 and 8 and watching people play on the stage and thinking ‘That’d be crazy to be on that stage one day,’ ” she says.
The powerfully voiced Guelph CVI graduate got her first guitar when she was about seven. It was a Christmas gift from her mom. Felker, who cites John Mayer, Adele, Bruno Mars, Elvis and the Beatles among her influences, wrote her first tune when she was about 13.
Late last week, the Trib threw a Q&A Felker’s way.
Q: Can you pass on a fun and/or interesting story about your first-ever live performance?
A: My first show was at Club Vinyl downtown. I was about 13, playing in a battle of the bands competition.
I was the only acoustic act, and I used an old tie as a guitar strap. I was so nervous, but I had lots of friends and family there to support me. I ended up actually winning the battle of the bands!
Q: What is one thing you really like about Guelph? And one you don’t?
A: I love how multicultural and green Guelph is. There are lots of different ethnic restaurants. I’m a pretty happy camper when it comes to Guelph, but if I had to pick one thing I don’t like, it would have to be that there is not a whole lot for kids my age to do.
Q: Tell us something about the first concert you ever attended as a fan.
A: My first concert was actually here in Guelph at the Guelph Concert Theatre. I went to see the band Yellowcard. It was an awesome concert. I didn’t know any of their songs, but I can remember being right up front watching them do their thing, and thinking “This is what I want to do!”
Q: What are the three most-played songs on your iPod?
A: Give me Love, by Ed Sheeran; Anything Could Happen, by Ellie Goulding; White Walls, by Macklemore.
Q: Can you start the following sentences . . .
A: Gangnam Style . . . is/are something I’ll never understand the popularity of.
A: Demi Lovato (haha) . . . is a musical guilty pleasure of mine.
A: When people don’t signal their turn when driving . . . is currently a big pet peeve of mine.
Q: You’re 19. The 19th birthday is much ballyhooed. What did you do for it?
A: I went to the Albion for lunch and had a beer with my mom! Then headed to Toronto and hit up the bar scene with my closest friends. It was a great night!
Q: The Trib’s paying the tab. What’s your tipple and where are you having it?
A: Sapporo at Molly Bloom’s.
Q: It seems few people actually pay for music these days. What’s your take on how the “music industry” can survive?
A: Hmm, that’s a tough one. I don’t think anyone really knows how to keep the music industry alive, especially with the Internet. But I think if you have a solid fan base of people who love you and your music, then I think they will show support by coming out to a show, or going out and buying a copy of your CD. To me, that’s what counts – as long as bands keep making good music, fans will keep buying it.
Q: You’re playing Hillside Inside Sunday. Can you talk us through what your day will be like?
A: Well, my day will probably start out with a hearty breakfast and some cartoons. Then on show days I usually spend a few hours going over my set list, making sure everything is good.
I’ll then get ready and head over to the River Run for sound check. And I’m not exactly sure what will happen after that. But it’s definitely a dream come true!
Eleven either/ors with Sarah Felker
• Draught or bottle? Bottle
• Chips or chocolate? Chips
• Euchre or poker? Poker
• Bob Dylan or Neil Young? Bob Dylan
• Long drive or short flight? Short flight
• Coffee or tea? Tea
• Zeppelin or Stones? Zeppelin
• Friday or Saturday? Friday
• Pool or ping-pong? Ping-pong
• Email or telephone? Telephone
• Facebook or Twitter? Facebook