• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Hart Sawyer still a 'total Versailles girl'

HART SAWYER, who grew up in Woodford County by the Kentucky River, was one of the featured artists at the Lightning in a Bottle festival in California May 27. The 29-year-old said she keeps a piece of Kentucky in her heart - always. (Photo submitted)

Hart Sawyer is a long way from home. The 29-year-old who grew up off Clifton Pike by the Kentucky River was in Las Vegas this week. Last month, she spent 10 days in Ireland, where she performed at the Body and Soul festival at Ballinlough Castle. In May, she sang at the Lightning in a Bottle festival in Bradley, Calif. But to paraphrase an old saying, you can take the girl out of Kentucky, but you can't take the Kentucky out of the girl - and that's just fine with Sawyer. "I keep a piece of Kentucky in my heart, always. And I really enjoy the fact that my roots are so backwoods. No matter what big city I go to, I still long to be in nature, and I'm grateful for the vibe of Kentucky and the small town of Versailles ." Sawyer said. Today she lives in Ojai, Calif., about 90 minutes from Los Angeles. "It's a super young town that's reminiscent of Kentucky. I'll always be a small town girl," she told The Sun. "So I go into L.A. to record and do business stuff and then I scoot out to be in nature." Sonicbids.com characterizes Sawyer's music as "ambient" and "pop," but with the ability to write music, play the ukulele and piano and dance, such simple terms don't begin to describe the range of her interests and abilities. Asked how long she's been singing, Sawyer laughed and said, "For as long as I've been talking." Sawyer was 12 years old and unsure of how to connect with peers when she began to write songs. Music became her best friend and offered a shoulder to cry on, she said. After graduating from Woodford County High School, she left for the Belmont University's prestigious School of Music in Nashville. She's spent the last seven years writing songs, playing music, often at festivals, including Coachella in Indio, Calif., in April. At Lightning in a Bottle, Sawyer didn't play the ukulele or piano - she sang, with no instrument between her voice and 20,000 festival goers. "And it was such a unique experience because it was the first time I've had that much fun being so vulnerable in front of all those people, because when you are playing an instrument, you're stationary," Sawyer said. In the past year, she's performed several times with younger sister Bella, herself a talented musician. "It's super sweet. She's a really great songwriter, and it's been a unique chance to sing with another female ." Sawyer said. "The main thing for me is that I love supporting her being on stage with me. It feels really yummy, and some of the music we do together, when we can harmonize, people started calling us the Sawyer Sisters on stage, and that's so cute." Asked about her songwriting style, Sawyer responded, "I don't really sing about a lot of mainstream stuff. Everything that I sing about is perspective and expression of the human experience, and if I sing about pain, usually I like to share the energy of how to heal that pain as well." She is looking, she said, for songs that say more than "I love you." Busy writing and performing, Sawyer only makes it home to Woodford County (where her parents still live in the house where she grew up) about once a year. But her family comes to visit her and see her perform from time to time - not that she needs a reminder of her roots. "I am proud to be from Kentucky. I actually enjoy saying, 'I grew up in Kentucky by the Kentucky River and that's my roots,' and I don't hide my Kentucky dialect." Sawyer said when she was in Ireland, she found herself missing the summer weather in Kentucky. And there's one more reason she stands apart from your average beautiful 29-year-old female artist: "I'm not that bothered by bugs," she said with a laugh.

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