Sawyer Fredericks is a talented 17 year-old singer/songwriter who has come a long way from the 88 acre upstate New York farm where he grew up. However, home is still a big part of his soulful contemporary folk sound.
“That’s where I started playing guitar,“ he says. “It was so much fun growing up there. There was a lot of open space and I was able to be around animals. Nature really inspired me and I feel it gave me a different musical perspective.”
Raised in an unschooling environment, Sawyer was allowed the time and freedom to nurture his passions while performing his responsibilities on the farm.
While music and singing were always an important part of Sawyer's formative years, he began honing his craft at the age of 12 by performing at local farmer's markets, open mics and charity events. His uncle taught him to play his first few chords on the guitar at age 11.
Sawyer didn't seek out NBC’s Emmy Award singing competition, THE VOICE. Their talent scouts found him on the internet and asked him to audition. At age 15, with one of the fastest 4 chair turns in VOICE history, Sawyer's journey began. His stark honesty and soulful delivery turned him into a national phenomenon during the eighth season of THE VOICE. As part of “Team Pharrell,” 16-year-old Sawyer emerged as the youngest victor in the show’s history.
Sawyer has continued to make VOICE history by becoming the first artist to land 14 songs in the iTunes overall Top 200 Chart in one week. His digital sales exceeded 1 million cumulative singles, making him one of the show’s most successful artists ever. Most importantly, Sawyer’s time on THE VOICE taught him quite a few things.
“I learned so much,” he says. “It was incredible to be around that many artists and see so much talent. I took it all in and getting to perform on that stage was amazing.” Coach Pharrell gave Sawyer an important piece of advice that he’ll never forget. He said, “Stay true to yourself.” That’s something that Sawyer has taken to heart and it shows on his first full length major label album, "A Good Storm,” released by Republic Records on May 13, 2016.
Previously, at the age of 14, he also released an acoustic, all original LP titled “Out My Window” with CDBaby. Often described as an old soul, Sawyer’s deep poetic lyrics, unique soulful vocals and powerful storytelling style has attracted a diverse following that ranges from “8 to 80 year olds.” Older fans often say he reminds them of acoustic artists and songwriters from the 60’s and 70’s, such as Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Among his many musical influences are Ray LaMontagne, Johnny Cash, and John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
When not touring, rehearsing with his band, or writing new songs, Sawyer finds solace and inspiration at home with his family and the animals on Windrake Farm. Often, Sawyer can be found walking through the fields, taking in a sunset or playing fetch with his dog, Tanner. In his “down time” Sawyer continues to help with the work of the farm, haying being one of his favorite chores.
Sawyer returned to THE VOICE stage on May 3, 2016 to debut his original "Four Pockets." The following week he kicked off the West Coast portion of his US Tour promoting "A Good Storm," playing at iconic venues such as The Troubadour in Hollywood. The remainder of the tour continues between July and September, 2016.
Backpack photos © Raymond MacDonald, Ray-MacDonald.com