Sawyer Fredericks is best known for winning Season 8 of The Voice in 2015 at age 16, but it's what he's done since that time that is most interesting. After signing to a label and releasing one album, Fredericks surprised everyone by leaving his label for his follow up, 2018's Hide Your Ghost. Fredericks followed up that album with an extensive tour announcement of American dates. AXS caught up with Fredericks when he performed at City Winery in Nashville on June 23 and here are 5 reasons why you should catch an upcoming show.
1. He is truly an independent spirit
Lots of artists release independent albums every year, but not many of them are 19 years old and able to cash in on 6 months of television exposure. Fredericks wrote and produced Hide Your Ghost himself and his connection to those songs is evident when you see him live. We caught up with Fredericks backstage before the show, and his ownership of these songs was clearly stated. “I feel it's the first time I'm truly showing who I am as an artist, I'm really planting my roots. If you don't like this album, you probably don't like my music!”
2. His music defies genre labeling
While most outlets put Sawyer Fredericks' music into the “indie folk” category, that label doesn't do justice to the number of influences present at his shows. Fredericks' songs blend country, rock, folk, and heavy doses of the blues for a sound that defies labeling. Fredericks himself acknowledges this far reach, naming blues legend Howlin' Wolf as his biggest blues influence, Ray LaMontagne as the artist he most wants to write with, as well as hinting at “some darker tones from some heavier music I listen to.”
3. His fans are really into his show
No matter how strong an artist performs, if the audience isn't with him, the concert is going to suffer. That isn't a problem with Sawyer Fredericks. When we spoke to him about his fans, he laughs and says that “I've got some really great fans that follow me all around! It's really cool.” In Nashville, the near-capacity audience certainly bore that up, hanging on every word and yelling out requests that were just as much for the new material as for his older work.
4. He can still rock a cover
While the majority of Sawyer Fredericks' set was dedicated to his own original music, he hasn't forgotten his days of singing cover songs on The Voice. At his City Winery Nashville show, Fredericks saved his covers for the encore. He took cover requests from the audience, which chose his rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd's “Simple Man” and a rocked up version of The Stanley Brothers' “Man of Constant Sorrow.”
5. He gets by with a little help from his friends
Being out on the road can be grueling, but it's less so if you can bring some friends along. Opening for Fredericks on this leg of the tour is Olivia Millerschin, a pick that was no accident. Says Fredericks, “for my openers, I always try to reach out to my friends. And also, she's an amazing performer, so it was a no-brainer." Fredericks joined Millerschin for the final song of her half-hour set, performing a duet with her on “When” from Millerschin's album Look Both Ways.
But Olivia Millerschin wasn't the only close friend along for the ride. Fredericks' cousin Art is his bassist. The two used to play guitar together at busking shows before his success and when he was putting together a band, Sawyer obviously turned to his cousin and friend. One problem; “Art doesn't play bass. But he does now because I needed a bass player in the band!”