Sara Beth Bareilles (/bəˈrɛlɪs/; born December 7, 1979) is an American singer-songwriter, actress and author. She achieved mainstream success in 2007 with the hit single "Love Song", which reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Bareilles has sold over one million albums and over nine million singles/downloads in the United States alone and has earned six Grammy Award nominations, including one Album of the Year nomination for her album The Blessed Unrest. In the third season of NBC's The Sing-Off, Bareilles was a celebrity judge alongside Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman. In February 2012, VH1 placed Bareilles in the 80th spot of the Top 100 Greatest Women in Music. Her memoir, Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song, was published in 2015 and was listed by The New York Times as a best-seller. She composed music and wrote lyrics for the Broadway musical Waitress, for which she earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Original Score in 2016 and a Grammy nomination for Best Musical Theatre Album.
Bareilles was born and raised in Eureka, California in Humboldt County, one of three daughters of Bonnie Halvorsen (née Capellas), a funeral home worker, and Paul Bareilles, an insurance adjuster. She has a half-sister named Melody. She is of Italian, English, German, Portuguese, and French descent; she speaks Italian and lived in Italy for a year. Bareilles was raised Catholic. She participated in the high school choir, Limited Edition, and local community theater musical productions, including her high school's production of Little Shop of Horrors, in which she appeared as Audrey.
After graduating from high school in 1998, Bareilles studied communication studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was a member of the co-ed a cappella group Awaken a Cappella; she can be heard on their album Dysfunktional Family, singing her original selection "Gravity" and "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5. The group's rendition of Bareilles' "Gravity" was featured on the Best of College a Cappella 2004 compilation CD. Bareilles and the band Maroon 5 have been acquainted since their younger days in California, when the band was known as Kara's Flowers. She performed in the annual student concert UCLA Spring Sing, winning twice. Bareilles taught herself to play the piano and, subsequently, all other instruments she has been seen playing.
2002–06: Career beginnings and Careful Confessions
After graduating from UCLA in 2002, Bareilles performed at local bars and clubs (such as the Hotel Café and Genghis Cohen in Los Angeles), building a following before performing in larger venues. She issued two demos of mostly live tracks in 2003: The First One in April and The Summer Sessions in October. In 2004, she appeared as a singer in a bar in the indie film Girl Play, performing the song "Undertow."
In January 2004, Bareilles released her first studio album, Careful Confessions. She then signed a contract with Epic Records on April 15, 2005. She spent the remainder of the year, and the early months of 2006, writing, composing, and reworking songs for her upcoming album.
In mid-2004 she opened for Rocco DeLuca and the Burden during their inaugural headline tour, supported Guster on their first UK tour, and co-headlined a tour with Jon McLaughlin. She toured as the opening act in 2006 for Marc Broussard's "Carencro" tour. Bareilles's song "Gravity" appeared briefly in the 2006 independent film Loving Annabelle. In 2007, Bareilles toured as the opening act for Aqualung and Mika, and later that year opened for several shows on both Maroon 5 and Paolo Nutini's U.S. tours. She also opened for James Blunt on his U.S. Tour in association with VH1 You Oughta Know.
2007–08: Little Voice
In June 2007, iTunes featured Bareilles's single "Love Song" as the free single of the week. The following month, her major-label debut, Little Voice, shot to No. 1 on the list of most downloaded albums of the music store in its first week of release, and debuted at No. 45 on the Billboard 200 chart. After being featured on a Rhapsody commercial in 2007, "Love Song" began climbing the pop charts, jumping from No. 73 to No. 16 in one week. It entered the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 27, 2007, and peaked at No. 4. On other charts, such as the Pop 100 and Hot AC, "Love Song" hit No. 1. Bareilles performed the song on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Thursday, January 17, 2008, and on the Today show on Thursday, February 21, 2008. Soon after that, the song entered the UK Singles Chart, peaking at No. 4. The music video was directed by Josh Forbes, and it starred the British actor Adam Campbell.
As of 2010, Little Voice had been certified Platinum by the RIAA. The album peaked in the Billboard 200 at No. 7, and the UK Top 40 at No. 9. Bareilles's breakthrough single, "Love Song," was later certified 3× Platinum.
On October 28, 2008, Bareilles released Between the Lines: Sara Bareilles Live at the Fillmore on DVD and CD. The package is a recording of her first headlining tour at the famous Fillmore in San Francisco. This package also included live recordings of her unreleased song "August Moon," as well as a cover of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." She concluded the tour in her home town of Eureka, California on December 19, 2008, at the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts.
She toured with Counting Crows and Maroon 5 between July 22 and August 26, 2008. The first stop was Virginia Beach, Virginia and the last stop Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Bareilles was selected as MTV artist of the week for July 7–11 and appeared again on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Wednesday, July 9, 2008; and on December 9, 2008 (with Ingrid Michaelson).
During the spring of 2009, Bareilles was on her second headlining tour, the "Gravity Tour," to promote "Gravity," the third and final single from her album Little Voice. She made her third appearance in Charlottesville, VA during UVA's annual Springfest on March 28, her first as the opener for Marc Broussard in 2005 and the second being an opening for Maroon 5. Bareilles also played multiple college shows in April and May. Some were for college students only and others were open to the public.
She sent out a special holiday message to fans on her mailing list and gave out a free live acoustic EP recorded during her Gravity Tour last Spring. The EP contained 7 acoustic songs, including a new song "Free Ride," "I'm on Fire"(a Bruce Springsteen cover duet with Tony Lucca), and two speaking segments.
In early 2010, Bareilles recorded video of what she called "An Ode to Jersey Shore" and posted it to her official website as a gag for fans.
2009–12: Kaleidoscope Heart and The Sing-Off
After an extended period of writer's block, Bareilles began work on the follow-up to her major label debut in the summer of 2009, collaborating with the likes of Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, members of Weezer, and Pharrell Williams. As the songs began to take their final shape, Neal Avron was assigned to produce, record, and mix the entire album. The album, eventually titled Kaleidoscope Heart, was recorded at The Village Recorder and Sunset Sound in Los Angeles.
The first single from Kaleidoscope Heart, "King of Anything," began receiving radio airplay in the United States in May 2010, and was released for sale in June. "King of Anything" had its first play on British radio airwaves on Paul Kay's "Album Download" show on Mid-Wales commercial radio station "Radio Maldwyn – The Magic 756" in August 2010. "King of Anything" was later certified platinum by the RIAA.
In anticipation of the new album, Bareilles released a series of webisodes, featuring the making of select songs from Kaleidoscope Heart, including "King of Anything," "Uncharted," "Gonna Get Over You," "Bluebird," and a strings-only version of "King of Anything." The first webisode also contains Bareilles writing the chorus/refrain lyrics for "Hold My Heart." She was selected as VH1's Posted Artist of the Month for July 2010, chronicling her life leading up to the album's release.
Kaleidoscope Heart was released on September 7, 2010, and debuted at number 1 in the United States, selling 90,000 copies. Interestingly, her previous album Little Voice re-entered the charts at number 200 in the same week, bookending the charts.
Bareilles toured in support of Kaleidoscope Heart from September to December 2010, with most of the shows being sold out. Bareilles toured Europe and parts of Asia and Australia with Maroon 5 throughout spring 2011. She embarked on a small headline "Uncharted" tour in April 2011 with openers Elizabeth & the Catapult and Ximena Sariñana in support of the second single from Kaleidoscope Heart, "Uncharted," which concluded April 23, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. She also opened select shows for the country music duo Sugarland on their Summer 2011 Incredible Machine Tour. The third and final single released from Kaleidoscope Heart is "Gonna Get Over You," with a music video directed by Jonah Hill.
Bareilles was added in the third season of the NBC television series The Sing-Off as a celebrity judge following the departure of Nicole Scherzinger, alongside Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men. Bareilles also guest-starred on Bucket & Skinner's Epic Adventures.
Indiana State Fair stage collapse
On August 13, 2011, the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed right after Bareilles finished performing as the opening act for Sugarland. She was uninjured, tweeting, "I'm speechless and feel so helpless; my heart aches for the lives lost." Seven people were killed, and more than 45 injured, in the collapse.
2012–14: Once Upon Another Time EP and The Blessed Unrest
Soon after joining The Sing-Off, Bareilles announced she was in the process of recording a new EP with co-star Ben Folds producing it. She also collaborated with fellow singer songwriters Greg Laswell and Jon McLaughlin on their new singles in February. In March, she was slated to release A Trace of Sun, a documentary of the time she had spent volunteering in Japan after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. Her EP, Once Upon Another Time, was released on 22 May and contained 5 new recordings. The first and only single from the EP, "Stay," was released on April 21, 2012 on 7" vinyl, exclusive to Record Store Day participants with a vinyl-only B-side, "Beautiful Girl." During her Stageit show on September 10, 2012, Bareilles stated that she was working on a new record in New York. She also premiered a new song which might be appearing on the new album in question, which was titled "Only Shadows." In January 2013, she revealed the plans for what was to come later in the year. After moving to New York, Bareilles finished her record, and released the lead single from that album "soon" thereafter. In January, Bareilles was a featured artist of the a cappella group Straight No Chaser on the Jackson 5 song, "I Want You Back" which premiered on Billboard.
In February 2013, Bareilles began teasing her fans to her upcoming album through her Twitter and YouTube accounts. The first tease was a video she released on her website, titled "Sara is Making a Record...."
On March 27, 2013, Bareilles announced that she would conduct an 18-city tour to promote the new album. The first single, "Brave," was released digitally on April 23. On April 17, 2013, Bareilles released a lyric video for her single "Brave" on YouTube. The album she had been teasing, finally titled The Blessed Unrest, was eventually released on July 13, 2013.
Bareilles performed two songs for the feature film Bounty Killer, which was released in September 2013. The first, titled "The Kill," was written and composed by Will Collyer and Sujata Day. The second, titled "Gonna Getcha," was written and composed by Will Collyer and the film's director, Henry Saine.
In October 2013, two nurses from University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital Brittany Bloemke and Natalie Snyder, along with former patient Sarah Ewald, produced a YouTube video containing coworkers and young cancer patients dancing and singing to Bareilles's song "Brave." As of November 11, 2013, it had been viewed over 1,000,000 times since its initial publication on October 7, 2013. On October 31, 2013 while the trio were being interviewed by host Nischelle Turner on the HLN show Showbiz Tonight, Bareilles surprised them by Skyping into the interview. Of the video, she said: "I was sent this video by a friend of a friend who lives in Minnesota, and I watched it late at night and immediately my eyes welled up with tears. It's moments like this that remind me of the importance of music, and I can't think of a more perfect incarnation of this song. It's exactly the kind of thing that gives the life to this song that we were hoping for."
On April 28, 2014, Bareilles performed with Elton John at The Breast Cancer Research Foundation's Annual Hot Pink Party Fundraiser. In May, Bareilles recorded a cover of Jackie Wilson's song "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" for the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Bareilles toured 24 American cities between July 10, 2014 and August 14, 2014 in her "The Little Black Dress Summer Tour." The tour supported her album The Blessed Unrest, and it featured opening performances by at least three "special guests:" American singer Emily King, indie pop band Lucius, and Canadian singer Hannah Georgas.
2015–present: Waitress, Sounds Like Me, and What's Inside
On October 25, 2012, Simon & Schuster announced it would publish a book, written by Bareilles, containing essays and photos. The book was tentatively set for release in 2014; however, Bareilles only finished the book in March 2015, according to an Instagram post on Bareilles's account. On April 30, 2015, Simon & Schuster announced that Bareilles's book was to be titled Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song.  It actually published Sounds Like Me on October 6, 2015.
In June 2013, it was reported that Bareilles was to score Waitress, a musical adaptation of the 2007 film of the same title. The musical opened on August 20, 2015, produced by the American Repertory Theater. The production was directed by Diane Paulus, and it starred Jessie Mueller in the leading role. Bareilles debuted one song from the musical, called "She Used to be Mine," during some shows on her Little Black Dress Tour.
Bareilles began work on her fifth studio album, What's Inside: Songs from Waitress, in April 2015 at New York City's Electric Lady Studios, in collaboration with producer Neal Avron, who had previously worked with Bareilles on Kaleidoscope Heart. In June 2015, Bareilles confirmed, during a Google Hangout Q & A session, that the album would feature songs she had written and composed for Waitress, which would be reworked "to sound like Sara Bareilles songs." On June 27, 2015, Bareilles and Nadia DiGiallonardo performed "She Used To Be Mine," the album's lead single, with Rich Dworsky and The Berkshire Boys on humorist Garrison Keillor's National Public Radio show A Prairie Home Companion. The album was released on November 6, 2015, through Epic Records.
Bareilles was cast as Ariel, the title character, in a production, at the Hollywood Bowl, of The Little Mermaid.
On February 16, 2017, it was announced on The Today Show that Sara Bareilles would take on the role of Jenna Hunterson in Waitress, on March 31 for 10 weeks only.
On November 29, 2017, Bareilles announced she would be returning to play Jenna in "Waitress", on January 16th for 6 weeks only -- including 2 weeks co-starring with Jason Mraz as Dr. Pomatter.
Musical style and influences
She is often praised for her songwriting abilities, with critics stating she "conveys vulnerability and wisdom in lyrics that speak honestly about relationships from a woman's point of view," and that her "writing voice is uniquely her own."
Bareilles's first band consisted of these members aside from Bareilles herself:
- Javier Dunn (guitar and vocals),
- Daniel Rhine (bass), and
- Josh Day (drums, percussion and backing vocals).
Other musicians who have toured with her as part of her band include Eric Robinson (guitar and keys), Holly Conlan (backing vocals), Steve Goold (drums, percussion) and Philip Krohnengold (guitar and keyboards).
In 2013, Bareilles parted amicably with her longtime bandmates to "move in a new direction." She subsequently embarked on a short solo tour, before forming a new band in anticipation of her fall co-headlining tour with OneRepublic.
The new band consists of these personnel aside from Bareilles herself:
- Rich Hinman (guitar),
- Steve Goold (drums, percussion),
- Chris Morrissey (bass),
- Cara Fox and Christina Courtin (strings), and
- Misty Boyce (keyboards).
Collaborations with other artists
In December 2008, a single Bareilles had performed in collaboration with Ingrid Michaelson, titled "Winter Song," was released from the compilation The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs. Bareilles and Michaelson performed it on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and an animated video was released. In December 2011, "Winter Song" reached number 2 on the Irish Singles Chart. She also recorded a song "Come Home," a duet with OneRepublic, which was released on iTunes on July 14, 2009.
Bareilles performed with many other singers on the season 3 finale of 30 Rock, alongside Mary J. Blige, Rachael Yamagata, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, and Elvis Costello. She also appeared with Weezer on Jimmy Kimmel Live and as an AOL Sessions guest, performing "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To" as well for a special performance on YouTube.
She has performed for the First Family numerous times. Bareilles was first invited by First Lady Michelle Obama to play at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh in September 2009. Here she performed songs for the First Ladies of 20 nations and afterward dined with Michelle Obama. The Obamas again invited her to perform at the Easter Egg Roll in 2010. On October 20, 2010, it was announced that Bareilles would open for President Obama at a Las Vegas rally for the Democratic midterm elections. In late 2010, as pop rock band Maroon 5 was touring in promotion for their Hands All Over album, Bareilles contributed to the female vocals (originally belonging to Lady Antebellum) for the song "Out of Goodbyes." She appeared with the band Sugarland for a cover of Dexys (Midnight Runners)'s "Come on Eileen" in a YouTube exclusive. In December, Bareilles and fellow singer Ingrid Michaelson performed "Winter Song" for the Obamas and many spectators at the National Christmas Tree Lighting.
In December 2010, Bareilles appeared with The Backbeats on the season finale of The Sing-Off. She performed the duet "Love Won't Let You Get Away" with Seth MacFarlane on his debut studio album Music Is Better Than Words, and reunited to perform the song with him at Club Nokia on March 26, 2011.
Bareilles is featured on the first single from Jon McLaughlin's fourth studio effort Promising Promises, "Summer Is Over." McLaughlin released the selection in January 2012.
Bareilles is featured on Seth MacFarlane's Christmas album Holiday for Swing, released on September 30, 2014. She joined MacFarlane on the song "Baby, It's Cold Outside." The album, which also featured collaborations with Norah Jones and Frank Sinatra's bassist Chuck Berghoffer as well as a 65-piece orchestra, was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London.
Bareilles considers herself "definitely sort of a feminist," saying: "I don't think that being a feminist has anything to do with hating anything. It's about celebrating women and being productive for females. I'm not one for seeing amazing, intelligent women being reduced to sex symbols."
- Careful Confessions (2004)
- Little Voice (2007)
- Kaleidoscope Heart (2010)
- The Blessed Unrest (2013)
- What's Inside: Songs from Waitress (2015)
Television and film
|2004||Girl Play||The singer in the bar|
|2008||Walmart Soundcheck||Herself||"Sara Bareilles" (Season 3, episode 3)|
|2008||Lipstick Jungle||Herself||"Chapter nine: Help!" (Season 2, episode 2)|
|2010||30 Rock||Herself||"Sara Bareilles" (Season 3, episode 22, "Kidney Now")|
|2011||Bucket & Skinner's Epic Adventures||Herself||"Epic Rockstar" (Season 1, episode 7)|
|2011||The Sing-Off||Judge||Season 3; 11 episodes|
|2011||No Ordinary Family||Herself||"No Ordinary Animal" (Episode 18)|
|2012||A Trace of the Sun: Volunteering in Japan||Herself||Documentary|
|2012||Rock Hall of Fame||Herself||Tribute to Laura Nyro Induction: "Stony End"|
|2013||Community||Balloon Guide||"Intro to Felt Surrogacy" (Season 4, episode 9)|
|2016||Sesame Street||Herself||"Music Magic" (Season 46, Episode 23)|
|2017||Julie's Greenroom||Herself||"Write...Write a Song" (Season 1, Episode 6)|
|2016||The Little Mermaid||Ariel||The Hollywood Bowl||Concert Production|
|2017||Waitress||Jenna Hunterson||Brooks Atkinson Theatre||Broadway|
Awards and nominations
|2009||Grammy Award||Song of the Year||"Love Song"||Nominated|
|Best Female Pop Vocal Performance||Nominated|
|2011||"King of Anything"||Nominated|
|2012||MVPA Awards||Best Choreography||"Gonna Get Over You"||Won|
|Best Directional Debut||Nominated|
|2014||Grammy Award||Album of the Year||The Blessed Unrest||Nominated|
|Best Pop Solo Performance||"Brave"||Nominated|
|American Music Award||Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist||Herself||Nominated|
|2016||Tony Award||Best Original Score||Waitress||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Music||Nominated|
|2017||Grammy Award||Best Musical Theater Album||Nominated|
|Audience Choice Award||Favorite Female Replacement||Won|
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