Winner of the eighth season of The Voice, singer/songwriter Sawyer Fredericks is known for his soulful contemporary folk sound. He’ll be kicking off the second leg of his tour at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC) on July 10, playing songs from his recently released album, A Good Storm. Fredericks—who was just 16 when he won The Voice—discusses his struggle, his journey, where he finds his songwriting inspiration and what it was like recording his first album.
Your voice is very powerful. Has singing and performing always been a dream of yours?
It was just something I started doing, and something that I really enjoyed. I was doing open mics at 12 years old.
You picked Pharrell Williams to be your mentor. What was it like working with him?
It was amazing. He’s very easy-going, and a great guy. He had great things to say.
In your blind audition for The Voice, you caught the attention of three of the four judges as soon as you began singing “Man of Constant Sorrow,” and the fourth judge soon joined the others. That must have been an incredible feeling.
It was amazing! I didn’t know if The Voice would necessarily be the show that would like my music. My music is contemporary folk, and I like it because, even though I listen to all different kinds of music, this particular genre allows me to show more emotions. I was really happy and shocked at the same time.
How has being on The Voice changed your life?
Oh, in so many ways! It’s a whole new thing, and getting to work with people in studios—it’s crazy. And just having a fan base. It’s very new for me, but I’m getting calm with it.
Can you describe how it felt to win?
The experience right then was a little weird. They wanted me to sing my song, but my parents were coming up and hugging me—I wasn’t sure if they wanted me to sing my song through that. It was a little odd, but all I was feeling was joy.
Where does much of your songwriting and music inspiration come from?
I listen to a very wide range of music. I take a lot from what I see on TV, and in my surroundings. I grew up on a farm, so I have that kind of down-to-earth, organic start. I feel that growing up where I did gives a different kind of outlook on life—just knowing and understanding what work is.
Your debut album, A Good Storm, came out on May 13. What was it like recording your first album?
It was awesome getting to work with all new artists. It was a new experience for me, and also a little trying in the beginning, but we got a lot of great songs out of it. I was enjoying co-writing, and just hanging out in studios. I mean, there was definitely a lot of trouble, too—me learning to play with actual musicians was very difficult for me, but I learned.
Where did the title come from?
It’s actually a song I wrote that’s on the album. I think we picked that song because I was very connected with it, because it speaks to my point of view. I connect with the lyrics.
What are you most looking forward to about performing at WHBPAC?
I haven’t been to the East End of Long Island, so I’m excited to be there. I’m just excited to be performing again, and getting to work with my band, and being somewhere that’s actually kind of close to where I live is really cool.
Sawyer Fredericks will be at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, 76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach, on July 10 at 8 p.m. For more info visit whbpac.org.