Singer/songwriter Regina Sayles played to a packed house in the Rathskeller Tuesday night in honor of Women’s History Month. Sayles, a small-town girl from Ohio with a big-city voice, played an array of cover songs and a few original tunes at the event, sponsored by the department of Women’s and Gender Studies.
After beginning her set with a cover of “Hound Dog,” made famous by rock ‘n’ roll icon Elvis Presley, Sayles quizzed the crowd on the song’s origins.
“The song was first recorded by Big Mama Thornton in 1953,” Sayles said. “Elvis rerecorded it and made it famous, but Big Mama Thornton only ever received $500 for her original.”
Sayles peppered her show with the historical background of each cover song and the personal anecdotes that inspired her to write her own songs.
“I’m interested in the how and why of a song,” Sayles said in an interview after the show. “I think it’s important to learn about the struggles the singers and songwriters had to overcome in order to make their music.”
Sayles covered songs from legendary female recording artists including Carole King, Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, Sarah McLachlan, Tina Turner and Sheryl Crow. Sayles’ mix of rock, blues, country and jazz made for a powerful performance that engaged the audience and kept them bewitched.
“I think she rocks,” Jessica Cortese, junior English major, said. “She’s also really informative. She’s awesome.”
This was Sayles’ second time performing at the College. She played a more low-key, intimate concert in the library auditorium last March.
“I like when people talk to me during shows and this was a much more relaxed atmosphere,” Sayles said. “Last year people felt like they had to be quiet because we were in the library.”
One original Sayles performed was a catchy number titled “It’s Home.”
“I wrote this song when I first moved to New Jersey from Ohio,” Sayles said. “I didn’t like it here. The traffic was so bad. I was homesick so I wrote this song.”
Another original that Sayles performed called “Fighting All Odds” was one of the more mellow songs of the night.
“This one is about knowing what’s right in your heart even when everyone else tells you otherwise,” Sayles said.
Lyrically, Sayles is inspired by the people she encounters and observes on a daily basis.
“After a show one night, I had a couple come up to me and say, ‘We beat cancer with your music,'” Sayles said. “I wrote a song based on that night called, ‘Better with Your Love.'”
Despite suffering from a cold, Sayles filled the venue with her dynamic powerhouse vocals and fierce guitar playing, making for an incredibly successful and enjoyable show.
Thanks to the change of venue, Sayles was allowed to really open up during her return performance to the College, enlightening her audience while leaving her own emphatic mark on Women’s History Month.