Students and faculty in attendance at the New Library auditorium on the afternoon of March 7 were treated to a powerful history of music.
In honor of National Women’s History Month, singer/songwriter Regina Sayles performed a free concert that was open to the public and sponsored by a number of on-campus groups.
Dr. AnnMarie Nicolosi, professor of women’s and gender studies, introduced Sayles and described her voice as “a mix between Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin.”
Sayles’ performance included original songs as well as a number of covers from artists such as Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Carole King, Tracey Chapman, Ani DiFranco, Melissa Etheridge, The Beatles and KT Tunstall.
The intimate venue mixed with Sayles’ captivating combination of rock, jazz, country and soul proved to be both educational and entertaining.
“Are there any music historians out there?” Sayles asked before performing Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut is the Deepest.” “If anyone in the audience can tell me who originally sang this song, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee from upstairs. I bet you guys didn’t know you were getting a history lesson today.”
Sayles’ music history lesson continued after she performed a cover of Carole King’s “It’s Too Late.” Sayles described King as “one of the most instrumental artists of the ’70s.”
“All of you hardcore women and feminists should own a copy of her album ‘Tapestry’,” she said.
In an interview after the show, Sayles explained where she most often finds inspiration for her music.
“I’m inspired by people and what drive them in their lives,” Sayles said. “It’s one of the things I love about traveling around and playing. I love meeting people and hearing their stories. When my music reaches people like their stories reach me, it’s a good day.”
Sayles was born in the small midwestern town of Tiffin, Ohio. She began playing guitar at age 10 and joined her first rock cover band, Reflections, at 16.
In 2000 she began performing as a solo acoustic artist while attending East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. Sayles graduated from East Stroudsburg University in 2003 with a BA in theater.
Sayles believes her degree in theater has contributed a great deal to her stage presence.
“Being on stage in a theatrical production, you have to be ready for anything, and the same thing applies when I’m singing,” Sayles said. “Having a sense of humor always helps, too.”
Sayles took voice lessons on-and-off for three years during college and guitar lessons for six years on-and-off as a kid.
According to Sayles, her career playing and writing music did not get truly serious until after graduating from college.
In December 2006, Sayles released her first seven-song EP, “It’s Home.” She performed several of the songs on the album during the concert including one called “Mothers Do.”
“This song is about my mother,” Sayles said. “She never told me I couldn’t do anything which is great because I’m an artist.”
Sayles believes the best advice she can offer young singer/songwriters is to “just write.”
“Don’t worry about if it’s good or not,” she said. “The more you write, the more chances you have of finding something wonderful.”