Sara Beth Bareilles ( ; born December 7, 1979) is an American singer-songwriter and pianist. She achieved mainstream success in 2007 with the hit single "Love Song", which brought her into the number one spot on the Billboard Pop 100 chart. She has sold over 1 million records and over 4 million singles in the United States alone and has been nominated for a Grammy Award three times. In the third season of NBC's The Sing-Off, Bareilles was a celebrity judge alongside Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men. In February 2012, VH1 placed Bareilles in the 80th spot of the Top 100 Greatest Women in Music.
Bareilles was born and raised in Eureka, California, one of three daughters of Bonnie Halvorsen (née Capellas), a funeral home worker, and Paul Bareilles, an insurance adjuster. She is of Italian, German, Portuguese, and French descent (she speaks Italian and lived in Italy for a year). Bareilles was raised Catholic and participated in the high school choir, Limited Edition, and local community theater musical productions, including her high school's production of Little Shop of Horrors as Audrey.
Bareilles attended the Communication Studies program at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was a member of the co-ed a cappella group Awaken a Cappella, and can be heard on their Dysfunktional Family album singing "Gravity" and "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5. The group's rendition of Bareilles' "Gravity" was featured on the Best of College a Cappella 2004 compilation CD. Bareilles also stated on MTV's TRL that she and the band Maroon 5 have been acquainted since their younger days in California when the band was known as Kara's Flowers. She performed in the annual student concert UCLA Spring Sing, winning twice. Sara taught herself to play the piano and subsequently all other instrument she is seen playing.
After graduating from college in 2003, Bareilles performed at local bars and clubs (such as the Hotel Café and Genghis Cohen in Los Angeles), building a following before performing in larger venues. She issued two demos of mostly live tracks in 2003: The First One in April and The Summer Sessions in October. In 2004, she appeared as a singer in a bar in the indie film Girl Play, performing the song "Undertow".
In January 2004, Bareilles released her first studio album, Careful Confessions. She signed a contract with Epic Records on April 15, 2005. The remainder of the year and early 2006 were spent writing and reworking songs for her upcoming album.
In mid-2004 she opened for Rocco DeLuca and the Burden during their inaugural headline tour, supported Guster on their first UK tour and co-headlined a tour with Jon McLaughlin. She toured as the opening act in 2006 for Marc Broussard's "Carencro" tour. Bareilles' song "Gravity" appeared briefly in the 2006 independent film Loving Annabelle. In 2007, Bareilles toured as the opening act for Aqualung and Mika, and later that year opened for several shows on both Maroon 5 and Paolo Nutini's U.S. tours. She also opened for James Blunt on his U.S. Tour in association with VH1 You Oughta Know.
In June 2007, iTunes featured Bareilles' single "Love Song" as the free single of the week. The following month, her major-label debut Little Voice shot to #1 on the list of most downloaded albums of the music store in its first week of release, and debuted at #45 on the 200Billboard chart. After being featured on a Rhapsody commercial in 2007, "Love Song" began climbing the pop charts, jumping from #73 to #16 in one week. It entered the top 10 on the Hot 100Billboard on December 27, 2007, and peaked at #4. On other charts, such as the Pop 100 and Hot AC, "Love Song" hit #1. Bareilles performed the song on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Thursday, January 17, 2008, and on showTodaythe on Thursday, February 21, 2008. Soon after that, the song entered the UK Singles Chart, peaking at #4. The music video was directed by Josh Forbes and stars British actor Adam Campbell.
As of 2010, Little Voice has been certified Platinum by the RIAA. The album peaked in the Billboard 200 at #7, and the UK Top 40 at #9. Bareilles' breakthrough single, "Love Song" has since been certified 3× Platinum.
On October 28, 2008, Bareilles released "Between the Lines: Sara Bareilles Live at the Fillmore" on DVD and CD. The package is a recording of her first headlining tour at the famous Fillmore in San Francisco. This package also included live recordings of her unreleased song "August Moon", as well as a cover of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay". She concluded the tour in her home town of Eureka, California on December 19, 2008, at the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts.
She toured with Counting Crows and Maroon 5 between July 22 and August 26, 2008. The first stop was Virginia Beach, Virginia and the last stop Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Bareilles was selected as MTV artist of the week for July 7–11 and appeared again on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Wednesday, July 9, 2008; and on December 9, 2008 (with Ingrid Michaelson).
During the spring of 2009, Bareilles was on her second headlining tour, the "Gravity Tour," to promote the third and final single from her album Little Voice. She made her third appearance in Charlottesville, VA during UVA's annual Springfest on March 28, her first as the opener for Marc Broussard in 2005 and the second being an opening for Maroon 5. Bareilles also played multiple college shows in April and May. Some were for college students only and others were open to the public.
She sent out a special holiday message to fans on her mailing list and gave out a free live acoustic EP recorded during her Gravity Tour last Spring. The EP contains 7 acoustic songs, including a new song "Free Ride", "I'm On Fire", a Bruce Springsteen cover duet with Tony Lucca, and two speaking segments.
In early 2010, Bareilles recorded video of what she called "An Ode to Jersey Shore" and posted it to her official website as a gag for fans.
After an extended period of writer's block, Bareilles began work on the follow-up to her major label debut in the summer of 2009, collaborating with the likes of Amir "Questlove" Thompson, members of Weezer, and Pharrel Williams. As the songs began to take their final shape, Neal Avron was assigned to produce, record, and mix the entire album. The album, eventually titled Kaleidoscope Heart, was recorded at The Village Recorder and Sunset Sound in Los Angeles.
The first single from Kaleidoscope Heart, "King of Anything", began receiving radio airplay in the US in May 2010, and was released for sale in June. "King of Anything" had its first play on the UK radio airwaves on Paul Kay's "Album Download" show on Mid-Wales commercial radio station "Radio Maldwyn – The Magic 756" in August 2010. "King of Anything" has since been certified platinum by the RIAA.
In anticipation of the new album, Bareilles released a series of webisodes, featuring the making of select songs from Kaleidoscope Heart, including "King of Anything", "Uncharted", "Gonna Get Over You", "Bluebird", and a strings-only version of "King of Anything". The first webisode also contains Bareilles writing the chorus for "Hold My Heart". She was selected as VH1's Posted Artist of the Month for July 2010, chronicling her life leading up to the album's release.
Kaleidoscope Heart was released on September 7, 2010, and debuted at number 1 in the United States, selling 90,000 copies. Interestingly, her previous album Little Voice re-entered the charts at number 200 in the same week, bookending the charts.
Bareilles toured in support of Kaleidoscope Heart from September to December 2010, with most of the shows being sold out. Bareilles toured Europe and parts of Asia and Australia with Maroon 5 throughout spring 2011. She embarked on a small headline "Uncharted" tour in April 2011 with openers Elizabeth & the Catapult and Ximena Sariñana in support of the second single from Kaleidoscope Heart "Uncharted", which concluded April 23, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. She also opened select shows for country music duo Sugarland on their Summer 2011 Incredible Machine Tour. The third single from Kaleidoscope Heart is "Gonna Get Over You," with a music video directed by Jonah Hill.
On April 21, 2011, NBC aired the "Paradigms of Human Memory" episode of comedy television series Community during episode 21 of season 2, in which "Gravity" was used during a montage scene reflecting on the characters Jeff and Annie's previous interactions, then later Abed and Pierce's. On April 11, 2013, Bareilles made a guest appearance in the show's fourth season as a singing hot air balloon operator in the episode Intro to Felt Surrogacy. On May 13, 2011, "Breathe Again" appeared in the Smallville series finale for the wedding of Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
Bareilles was added in the third season of the NBC television series The Sing-Off as a celebrity judge, alongside Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men. Bareilles also guest-starred on Bucket & Skinner's Epic Adventures.
On August 13, 2011, the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed right after Bareilles finished performing as the opening act for Sugarland. She was uninjured, tweeting "I'm speechless and feel so helpless; my heart aches for the lives lost." Seven people died, and more than 45 were injured in the collapse.
Soon after joining The Sing-Off, Bareilles announced she was in the process of recording a new EP with co-star Ben Folds producing it. She also collaborated with fellow singer songwriters Greg Laswell and Jon McLaughlin on their new singles in February. In March, she will release A Trace of Sun a documentary of her time volunteering in Japan after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. Her EP, Once Upon Another Time, was released on May 22 and contained 5 new recordings. The first single from the EP, "Stay" was released on April 21, 2012 on 7" vinyl, exclusive to Record Store Day participants with a vinyl-only B-side "Beautiful Girl".
During her Stageit show on September 10, 2012, she stated that she was working on a new record in New York. She also premiered a new song which may be appearing on her new album, titled "Only Shadows". In January, she spilled a little news on what's with her for this year. After moving to New York, Bareilles is finishing her record already, and will release the lead single from that album "soon." In January, Bareilles was a featured artist of the a cappella group Straight No Chaser on the Jackson 5 song, "I Want You Back" which premiered on Billboard.
In February, she began teasing her fans to her upcoming album, through her Twitter and YouTube accounts. First is the video that she released on her website, which was entitled "Sara is Making a Record...".
On March 27, Bareilles announced that she would be doing an 18 city tour to promote the new album. The first single, "Brave," was released digitally on April 23. On April 17, 2013, Bareilles released a lyric video for her single "Brave" on YouTube. Her album, titled The Blessed Unrest, was released on July 13, 2013.
Bareilles's vocal range registers from contralto to mezzo-soprano, and is often compared to artists such as Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple, Billy Joel, due to her vocal ability and incorporation of piano in her music.
Her sound is described as "slightly edgy, stompy piano-based pop rock" that incorporates jazz and soul, with Bareilles finding inspiration from singers such as Etta James and Sam Cooke. She is often praised for her songwriting abilities, with critics stating she "conveys vulnerability and wisdom in lyrics that speak honestly about relationships from a woman's point of view", and that her "writing voice is uniquely her own."
She plays the piano, guitar, ukulele, and harmonium.
Bareilles tours with regular band members Javier Dunn (guitar and vocals), Daniel Rhine (bass) and Joshua Day (percussion and vocals). Other musicians who have toured with her as part of her band include Eric Robinson (guitar and keys), Holly Conlan (backing vocals), and Philip Krohnengold piemel (guitar and keys).
In December 2008, a single with Ingrid Michaelson titled "Winter Song" was released off the compilation The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs. The two performed it on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and an animated video was released. In December 2011, "Winter Song" reached number 2 on the Irish Singles Chart. She also recorded a song "Come Home," a duet with OneRepublic, which was released on iTunes on July 14, 2009.
Bareilles performed with many other singers on the season 3 finale of 30 Rock, alongside Mary J. Blige, Rachael Yamagata, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones and Elvis Costello. She also appeared with Weezer on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and AOL Sessions guest performing "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To" as well for a special performance on YouTube.
She has performed for the First Family numerous times. Bareilles was first invited by First Lady Michelle Obama to play at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh in September 2009. Here she performed songs for the First Ladies of 20 nations and afterward dined with Michelle Obama. The Obamas again invited her to perform at the Easter Egg Roll in 2010. On October 20, 2010, it was announced that Bareilles would open for President Obama at a Las Vegas rally for the Democratic midterm elections. In late 2010 as pop rock band Maroon 5 was touring in promotion for their Hands All Over album, Bareilles contributed to the female vocals (originally belonging to Lady Antebellum) for the song "Out Of Goodbyes". In December, Bareilles and fellow singer Ingrid Michaelson performed "Winter Song" for the Obamas and many spectators at the National Christmas Tree Lighting.
In December 2010, Bareilles appeared with The Backbeats on the season finale of The Sing-Off. She performed the duet "Love Won't Let You Get Away" with Seth MacFarlane on his debut studio album Music Is Better Than Words, and reunited to perform the song with him at Club Nokia on March 26, 2011.
Bareilles is featured on the first single from Jon McLaughlin's fourth studio effort Promising Promises, "Summer Is Over". The track was released in January 2012.