Questioning is the way we connect

Songwriting as a way to process life

Sara Hecht has always been drawn to music, saying writing and singing gives voice to the body and the soul. She spoke to Jessica Abelsohn about her journey through music, what she thinks about the music industry and her most recent song release, Is This Faith.

In 2008, Melbourne-born singer, songwriter and storyteller Sara Hecht began to record her first album with former Beth Rivkah Ladies College classmate, Hanna Silver. It was the beginning of a beautiful, mystical and soul-searching journey into music.

“Those early days hold sweet memories for me,” Hecht told The AJN over email from her home in Israel. “It was a joy to begin my musical journey with a good friend.”

As Hecht explained, the album took on a life of its own and she found herself travelling to the USA and Israel to collaborate with other musicians and producers. The album, titled Pieces, was eventually released in 2013.

In the years following, Hecht performed around the world, including returning to Melbourne to perform in her hometown. As she said, while she has lived on two different continents and travelled the world, in the words of Peter Allen, “I still call Australia home.”

But, she recalled, two of her most poignant experiences were performing for women of diverse cultures and faiths in US prisons, and for female soldiers at an IDF military base in Israel.

“I’m passionate about all things mystical, artistic and human,” she explained. “There is something about putting lyrics and music together that gives voice to two essential elements of the human being: the verbal and the nonverbal, the letters and the spirit, the body and the soul. Songwriting has become the way I process life, connect with my soul and walk through challenging times – and I find that it does the same for my listeners.”

But, she insisted she doesn’t buy into the idea of the music ‘industry’. Rather, she wants her music to turn people inwards, which is perhaps why the experiences of performing for incarcerated women and female IDF soldiers were so meaningful.

“The truth is, there’s something about music being an industry at all that sometimes feels like it runs against the reasons I create it. I believe that music, in its highest form, is here to raise our level of consciousness and connect us to something greater than ourselves, but the industry and social media have really made it more about entertainment. Music used to be a deeply nourishing activity – perhaps experienced with one’s eyes closed and today it feels more like fast food: we click, watch and move on,” she reflected, explaining that she would love to be part of the shift away from this ideal.

“Just yesterday, someone said to me, ‘Your music is so healing.’ That’s the most heartwarming feedback I can hope for, because it’s the very reason I create and share.”

Recently, Hecht released a new song, called Is This Faith. She described it as a candid conversation between herself and God, almost like a reflective prayer. When it was written though, she realised that it was more than just a conversation for her, explaining that there is “something universal in it, something I believe all humans might experience at one point or another: questioning God, questioning ourselves, the elusive nature of faith and how to walk with all that is unanswerable in the human journey”.

She said that through the song, she hopes listeners find their own voice to question, because ultimately, that’s the way we all connect.

The beautiful film clip was filmed in Jerusalem, which Hecht said just felt “right”.

“I’ve been living in Jerusalem for several years now and I have found a certain magic here: the city seems to hold you, even as she also pushes you deeply towards your soul truth – a process which isn’t always all that comfortable,” she said. “Today, people from all walks of life are drawn to Jerusalem. Perhaps, we come here to heal. There’s a certain authenticity that living here seems to demand and to me, a conversation like Is This Faith is an expression of that.”

Plus, she said, the song’s arranger and producer is also a native of Jerusalem and for Adi Hayat, who is one of Israel’s leading music producers, it was very meaningful to film the song in the same city where the pair have been blessed to make such beautiful music.

So what’s next for the artist? Well, she remains coy, sharing that even she doesn’t necessarily know what’s coming in the future.

“I’ve always been drawn to music and in particular, to songwriting and singing,” she said. “In songwriting, I’ve learned to let the music lead me. When I allow the melody to show me where she wants to go – rather than trying to push my own agenda – the song takes on a life of its own, far greater than I could have created. I like to try and live that way, too. So, what’s next? I’m not sure. But I look forward to playing out what the Divine composer has in mind.”

For more about Hecht: Her music is available to stream on all major music streaming platforms.

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