Texas singer Sara Hickman’s materials now part of Woodson Research Center archive

Materials documenting Texas singer Sara Hickman’s 40-year career are now part of the Houston Folk Music Archive at Rice’s Woodson Research Center in Fondren Library. The collection contains materials ranging from Hickman’s concert posters and photos to her albums and fan mail.

Some of Sara Hickman's donated memorabilia. Photo by Jeff Fitlow.

Some of Sara Hickman’s donated memorabilia. Photos by Jeff Fitlow

Hickman said that as a child she was “always humming, always singing.” She tried piano lessons at a young age, but soon realized that the guitar was a better fit. She practiced after school and remembers taking her guitar everywhere. She also remembers playing songs around the piano with her paternal grandparents, who were both musicians.

Her first official performance took place at the age of 7 at an elementary school talent show. She composed a song about the American bald eagle and won first place, receiving a certificate with a $25 prize. Her first paying gig came when she was 14 and received $450 for performing at a private party for the Houston Oilers.

“I was like, wow! You can get paid to do this!” she said. “It was really exciting.”

Sara Hickman poses with some of her donated memorabilia. Photo by Jeff Fitlow.

Hickman poses with some of her donated memorabilia.

Hickman’s music can best be described as a mix of rock, folk and pop. Throughout her career, she released more than 18 albums and was a guest performer on at least 25 albums by other musicians. Her best-known hit, “I Couldn’t Help Myself,” hit No. 3 on the adult contemporary chart. She also appeared twice on “The Tonight Show” and was named the Texas state musician in 2010. Her songs have been covered by other Texas musicians, including Willie Nelson and Robert Earl Keen. Several of her albums have also featured children’s music.

Hickman has also supported numerous charities that address such issues as abused and neglected children, breast cancer research, AIDS, women’s issues, illiteracy and the homeless.

Sara Hickman and Norie Guthrie examine some of Hickman's fan mail. Photo by Jeff Fitlow.

Hickman and Norie Guthrie examine some of Hickman’s fan mail.

For those interested in making it in the music industry, Hickman suggests networking, practice and a sense of awareness — of everything from communication trends to an artist’s public profile. She also recommends that they surround themselves with realistic yet loving people who care about their well-being and who have their best interest at heart.

Norie Guthrie, an archivist librarian at Woodson, said Hickman’s collection of career memorabilia is a great addition to the archive.

“Sara’s amazing donation nicely covers the full scope of her career, and the types of materials show her deep connection to her fans and those that she has helped through charitable works,” Guthrie said.

Hickman’s collection should be available to researchers by the beginning of 2018.

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.