Interview with Sara Mitra: positive start to the 20th Christmas jazz

08. December 2015
Tinatin Baghashvili

Christmas Jazz Festival opened its 20th edition. Sara Mitra and her band held the first concert of the festival at Vaba Lava on 28th of November. Her charming voice and compositions fascinated the festival audience. Sara was in a constant communication with her audience and her band through the music. She brought very positive energy on the stage. The artist performed her own compositions as well as covers and general repertoire. 


After the concert I had a chance to meet her in person and ask some questions. As the performance had received frequent applauses Sara was satisfied with the show. “Unluckily the concert of Kellylee Evans was cancelled and suddenly I was given a chance to held a concert. Therefore, it was quite challenging since I was concentrating on the audience what they wanted to hear. My band and I changed our repertoire. Overall the performance was positive to share the Christmas atmosphere.” 


The concert program was full of songs of nearing Christmas and winter time. Among others, some classic Christmas songs for children. In the church Sara goes to, she sometimes performs those songs with children. Her musical program was very much connected into the Christmas Jazz Festival.


Sara has visited Estonia couple of times before, her first experience was about 15 years ago, when she participated in a choir tour singing classical choral music. “I left Estonia thinking, I love this country, and just now the opportunity that I could perform here was very exciting for me. Estonians are a brilliant audience. As a musician you feel that they are passionate about the music. When you perform you grow up as an artist finding the approach that the audience expects from you”. 


Sara Mitra has always been engaged with music. She studied music at the university of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. At first, she was into classical choral music and later on was lead to jazz. “I really did not understand what it was from the beginning. I was more fascinated by blues, soul, generally that side of the American music and it led me to jazz. I learned a lot from the iconic jazz musicians who inspired me – Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Billie Holiday.” She deepens her knowledge and experience of jazz music by performing jazz from the 1920s and 1930s. However, her latest album “Loosing You” is a combination of folk, country and blues roots within jazz. 


Creating music is a natural urge, there are lots of different ways how the music can come into composer’s mind – “sometimes it comes in a dream, or if I walk and run it comes with the rhythm. Sometimes a little section takes years and years, and sometimes it just comes very suddenly. Concerning the lyrics, I sometimes compose on Christina Rossetti’s poems. But if I create the lyrics myself I always try to write little texts without complicated sentences. This way it is easier to tell the audience what I feel.” 


The band works together very well. The diversity the band members bring with them enriches their musical creativity. Tim Giles is a drummer and Sara’s husband, he is always very open to experiment and try out contemporary styles. Andy Button is a guitar player, he is the band leader and composes music at the same time. Johnny Brierley is the band’s bass player. He also works together with a couple of other bands that have very deep roots in African music. “They are all very different. When it comes to the music with standards, it is always a surprise what will come out, how will they play or what will I sing.” The forming of Sara’s band is an interesting story too. It’s all about friends and friends having connections. That is also how Tim and Sara met nearly ten years ago. Tim and Johnny are old friends from their common band called Dog’s Soup. 


Sara and Tim have two young daughters. Currently the musicians are expecting their third baby. Sara Mitra plans to continue her hard working music career next September. 



28th November, 19:00

Vaba Lava


Sara Mitra – Vocals, Piano

Tim Giles – Drums

Andy Button – Guitar

Johnny Brierley – Bass