“Thomsen’s soulful voice, poetic lyrics and unforgettable melodies cut through to the heart and the soul of human experience,” proclaims the Minnesota Women’s Press. With a voice rich as the best mid-west soil, Sara's songs carry you inward and outward—in, to the particulars of your own life, and out—into the shared humanity of us all. Her performance style is easygoing and full of humor and depth, capturing the audience’s engagement. Sara’s music gently enfolds and unfolds the listener.
Somewhere to Begin (2014) is Thomsen’s fifth solo album. “The kind of music she’s making is well-crafted, sung beautifully, and recorded immaculately, and she exudes competence and sincerity,” states the Duluth News Tribune review. “Fans of Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary might want to check this out.”
Everything Changes (2008), Thomsen’s previous release, is “a powerful collection from a grounded talent,” writes Sing Out! Magazine. The album is “a patch-quilt of musical styles,” notes the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “stitched together by Thomsen’s lonely alto voice and evocative writing style.” “In Everything Changes she has produced a self-portrait that is radiant with elegance, grace and honesty," states the Duluth News Tribune. "It weaves its way into your soul."
Thomsen’s songwriting has won numerous accolades and awards. “A Woman’s Place” (Everything Changes) won a Top Finalist award in the midwest regional round of the Mountain Stage NewSong Contest, and was published in Sing Out! Magazine. “I Remember These” (Everything Changes) won a Top Finalist award in the Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua's Songwriting Competition.
“Irene Marguerite” and “Keepin’ the Peace” (By Breath, 2003) placed Thomsen as winner of the Minnesota Folk Festival’s New Folk Songwriting Contest. “Is It For Freedom” (Fertile Ground, 1999) won a Top Finalist award in Public Domain Foundation’s Music To Life Contest—the nationwide contest created by Noel Paul Stookey (of “Peter, Paul and Mary”) to recognize songs of sociopolitical concern. “Is it For Freedom” was also published in Sing Out! Magazine and is aired frequently on Democracy Now!
Dubbed in her local press as “one of Northern Minnesota’s best kept secrets,” Thomsen’s home base is in the Lake Superior region by Duluth, MN. “The Twin Ports folk singer picks up the torch carried by the balladeers of decades past: Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Holly Near, Ronnie Gilbert, and Peter, Paul, and Mary” writes the Duluth Reader Weekly. “She could make Conan the Barbarian drop his sword and collapse blubbering.”
In addition to her solo work, Sara is a weaver of song and community singing. At concerts, conferences, classrooms, workshops, retreats, jails, places of prayer, and lines of protest, to be with Sara is to want to sing. Increasing wonder and awareness, deepening spiritual connection, and widening social engagement through song is at the heart of her work. Sara's ability to get people singing magically transforms gatherings into communities empowered with possibility.
Sara has produced and directed performances over the years combining music, poetry, dance, visual art, storytelling, and puppetry. She is the artistic director of the singing trio "Three Altos," comprised of Rabbi Amy Bernstein, Thomsen, and professor Paula Pedersen. The Three Altos’ released their debut CD, Camaradas, in 2005 followed by One Voice in 2010.
Sara is the founder and artistic director of the "Echoes of Peace Choir," a non-audition community choir in Duluth, Minnesota, with a repertoire of world music and a membership of around 70 voices. In 2012 she founded the Echoes of Peace non-profit to expand and develop the work of examining critical social issues using music and the arts to build and bridge informed, engaged, and caring communities.
Sara grew up surrounded by a family and community that loved to sing. From listening to her father sing lullabies, to singing her first solo in junior high (Billy Joel’s “For The Longest Time”) and onward, Sara’s life has been infused with music. She is a staunch supporter of struggles for human dignity and ecological sustainability. Slowing down enough to see and hear the vibrant wonder of the commonplace is her work and play. All this can be felt in her music. Whether it is a song welcoming a newborn, protesting a policy, depicting night falling or describing a loved one, her music is alive and pulsing.
“Like the essence of a poem and the heart of a seed, Sara's music is transforming.”
—Elizabeth Nordell, Storyteller, Duluth, MN
“Sara’s voice is like the best butter you’ve ever had--on a big, generous meltingly gorgeous piece of bread right out of the oven. Hearing Sara is like coming home to your own soul; her music is cozy and big all at the same time. The first time I heard her, I cried for joy. Real tears.”
—Nancy Conger, Minnesota Author, Playwright, Violinist, Coach
“Sara’s songs are an exciting mix of the very personal, the political and the universal.”
—Frankie Armstrong, Singer, Natural Voice Practitioners Network, Co-founder, Cardiff, Wales
“Sara Thomsen's music takes you everywhere tender, smart—everywhere loving and alive.”
—Carol Robbins, Ed.D., Director, Off-Campus College Program
City University of New York (CUNY) School of Professional Studies, New York City