Sarah Blackwood – Your Voice Is Everything

Sarah Blackwood Walk Off the Earth

So something pretty sweet happened recently when I was given the opportunity to meet and photograph the beautiful, talented, wildly creative, and one-of-a-kind rock & roll artist, Sarah Blackwood from Walk of the Earth

Sarah Blackwood Walk Off the Earth

Before diving too deep into the experience, I have to give a huge shout out to my friend Laura, an amazingly thoughtful and gracious human being, that made this memorable event a reality for me. Laura, who has a long time personal and professional relationship with Sarah arranged for me to accompany her to a recent keynote with Live Nation and Women in Music. She arranged this selflessly simply because she knows how passionate I am about mental health and is a strong supporter of my suicide prevention mission with my recently launched ‘Voices Unfiltered’ project. You can lear more about this initiative at www.voicesunfilitered.com. Incredibly grateful Laura!

So admittedly, I was excited for this opportunity to photograph a ‘celebrity’. It’s not every day that I work with someone so well known and inspiring, but truthfully it wasn’t about boasting the images or experience for me. I honestly wasn’t even sure if I would be able to share any of the images, but definitely wanted to be sure to get some great images for Sarah to use.

I actually felt oddly awkward upon arrival to the venue. But then I met her – Sarah Blackwood – and guess what… she was actually a real, normal person. Shocking, right?! HA! Sarah just welcomed me with a big old smile, a positively glowing spirit, and an honest, open heart that wants others to feel good in their own skin. She made space for me to ask a few questions, showed gratitude, and was incredibly genuine. I don’t mention this because it’s surprising. I mean, obviously I’ve followed Sarah for a while and was aware she is a kind and beautiful person, but I think it’s noteworthy to say that this woman is really the real deal.

I think sometimes we can get so caught up in questioning who the heck we are to be doing the thing we’re doing, that we forget the fact that all of that really doesn’t even matter. The reality is, we’re here in this moment. So, let’s get over this awkward feelings of unworthiness and own who we are and fully be there. Let’s make it an unforgettable memory. Let’s learn, be present and realize that we’re really all just doing this ‘life’ thing the best that we can. This was a big takeaway for me.

Sarah Blackwood has this remarkable platform as a Canadian music icon and is using this as an opportunity to bring light, love, acceptance and hope to others. She’s a girl that’s out there bringing awareness to important issues, which makes me feel super proud to call her a fellow Canadian. How unbelievably lucky we are to be able to claim that this talented woman launched her music career right here in Southern Ontario?!

One of the many things that fuels my admiration for this woman is that she’s actually already been making an impact through her music. The depth in the lyrics she spreads with her voice unmask the sensitive feelings that many of us combat in our lives. The thing is she’s not stopping at using her voice though her lyrics. She sees opportunity to position herself as a strong Canadian advocate for mental health, and it’s quite spectacular to see this. It’s people like Sarah that will be pivotable in crushing the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness. Because although Sarah is a pretty small (size wise), she’s certainly mighty! Her sense of humour and her caring stance to encourage others that they can rise above the hardship is something that we don’t see enough of in my opinion.

A mother to 3 children, a wife, a performer, a song-writer, an animated and loving friend – Sarah is dedicated to stepping up to bring awareness, encouragement, and create connection. She’s becoming a catalyst for openness and acceptance. There is no shortage of work ethic in this woman!

And although upon meeting her I admittedly felt a little awe-struck and nervously awkward, she’s ultimately just super genuine and real. There was no ego, or sense of being above anyone else in the room. 

My attention was grabbed when she mentioned the importance of just communicating about the real things. The real, every day events. The big and the little stuff. It all matters. It’s all part of the journey. She positively boasts the notion that woman should be empowered to make their own decisions based on what works for them and that this isn’t going to look the same for everyone. It actually shouldn’t. There’s such value in hearing that level of permission from someone we admire and look up to. Knowing that there is no expectation that our lives fit some sort of unrealistic mold. We all have out shit we are working through and that is okay!

Sarah Blackwood Walk Off the Earth

Sarah’s keynote entitled “Your Voice is Everything’ was compelling. Her personal story envelopes moments of her childhood gradually unfolding until that moment that the viral video of Walk Off the Earth performing ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ would land them on stages and studios around the world in what seemed at the time to be an almost overnight explosion into stardom. 

She continues to humbly and honestly lay out her real life. Moments where overseers of the band would have discussions to potentially replace her because she was about to have a child. Moments of being on stage jumping up and down at only 3 weeks postpartum. Moments of journeying across the world with 3 young children while on tour. Moments of great heartbreak from losing her mother to suicide. Moments of great loss and confusion when a fellow band member passed unexpectedly.

Sarah’s stories are filled with joy, perseverance, and love, but they are also lined with times of struggle, loss, and heartache. Knowing just the pieces that were shared this evening and the pieces I have gathered from following her online over time, I marvel at her willingness to be vulnerable in such a public space, and her ability to stand strong. Using her platform and her voice allows others to know that they are not alone. We are all doing this crazy thing called life together.

Sarah Blackwood Walk Off the Earth

Before Sarah spoke, we briefly chatted about her recent endeavours with speaking publicly about mental health and living boldly as a woman and a mother while having an intensely busy career. Sarah fluently shared that she started speaking more because it intuitively felt right. She said she just likes being able to talk to people. She wants to connect on an authentic level. If showing herself helps others to know their worthiness and encourages them to use their voice it’s certainly worth it.  If others can come to understand that they’re not the only one out there that struggles – as a parent, as a woman, as a human being – then maybe, just maybe that can help push them through some of those really crappy times. There’s so much power in feeling connected to others and building communities around love an acceptance.

Sarah Blackwood Walk Off the Earth

Sarah graciously gave me some space to chat with her about the Voices Unfiltered project I’ve recently launched for suicide prevention. Her encouragement and light is magnetic and I felt so loved, appreciated, and sincerely grateful by the end of the evening! It was a life event for me to have this pleasure to meet and photograph the beautiful Sarah Blackwood as she spoke, sang and sparked something beautiful! It’s one that I’ll carry with my for many years. My deepest gratitude to both Sarah (and of course, Laura) for making this night so meaningful and memorable.

Sarah Blackwood Mental Health Advocate

I just want to wrap this post up by sharing the video to Walk Off the Earth’s most recent release “I’ll Be There”. At this point there is no doubt you’re familiar with the song because it’s getting played everywhere and it’s one of those songs you’ll catch yourself singing in your head all day (and what a perfect anthem to be signing in your head all day actually). 

The message in this song is so powerful, and the video is outstanding in bringing attention to a real issue in our society. Its educating, helpful, storytelling and incredibly powerful! 

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