Reviews - Sarah Copus "Moorland Winds"
By Bill Binkelman, Zone Music Reporter
In reviewing Sarah Copus’ breakthrough album Moorland Winds, I could be subtle and write “a budding artist emerges,” but instead, I think I’ll go full tilt fan-boy and scream “A STAR IS BORN!” This superb recording features an assortment of Celtic vocal and instrumental tunes would be an ace in the hole in any artist’s discography. However, when one realizes that Sarah isn’t even 18 years old, one can only be astonished. Of course, she has been performing and recording with her folks, Pamela and Randy Copus (as 2002) for seven years, which in and of itself is also remarkable). Mom Pamela sits in on the album on whistle and father Randy on guitar, and the other guest artists include Nathan Kennedy on fiddle, Rick Holt on bodhran, and James Song on violin (on one track). All of these fine musicians contribute mightily to the quality of music on the album. However, this is truly Sarah’s coming out party as she handles all the vocals and harp. The songs are a mixture of vocal pieces featuring Sarah’s haunting, delicate singing and both uptempo instrumentals, i.e. jigs, reels, hornpipes, as well as some serene ones, i.e. airs. Other than her cover of Sting’s “Fields of Gold,” (which is given a soft amber-glow tinted with tender regret), all the songs are decidedly Celtic, many being traditional pieces, such as the opening “Wind on the Moor” or the closing “She Moved Through the Fair.” Sarah also composed a song, “Buttercup Spree” which segues into two traditional jigs (if you are unfamiliar with Celtic/Irish music recordings, many tracks actually contain two or three songs separated in the track title by a slash, e.g. the one I just mentioned which is “Buttercup Spree/Garrett Barry’s Jig/Clare Jig.”
Instead of the variance between moods and tempos causing a lack of cohesion, the opposite is true (and this is frequently the case with Irish/Celtic music recordings, to be honest). Moorland Winds is an excellent addition to the genre and any fan of this music should fall in love with the album. Yes, Sarah’s voice is still “growing” of course, meaning that as she gets older, she will likely develop more “pipes,” meaning she will be able to have a fuller voice, but she already has wonderful pitch, nuance, tone, and she sings with a maturity that is way beyond her years. Her harp playing talent is also staggeringly accomplished for someone her age. Throw in that she adroitly sings in both English and Celtic/Gaelic and, well, can you see why I say a star is born?
I could go on and on and detail some of my favorite tracks but that would merely polish the diamond. Sarah Copus is shining brightly on Moorland Winds (as she did on the most recent 2002 recording, Celtic Fairy Lullaby) and I fully expect that her light will only grow brighter and more resplendent with time. Which leads me to stating with no small measure of confidence that Sarah may become the next “big thing” in Celtic music. After all, the grand dames (and you know of whom I speak) in that genre must eventually give way to younger, more vibrant talent, right? Who better to assume the pinnacle/throne than this ultra-talented budding beauty? Aye, lads and lassies, the future is indeed bright for this young woman. And we will all be the better for it.
Breathtakingly blissful – by Wouter Kellerman, Grammy® Winner 2015
The musical fabric of this magical masterpiece is interwoven from a wide range of styles and genres from traditional Irish, folk and alternative pop to harp-inspired favourites from England and the Hebrides. What struck me most is the creative production which includes very clever usage of various instrumentations and the unbelievable, unreal and angelic vocal performance from Sarah. Undeniably one of the voices of her generation!!! The breath-taking cover of Sting’s “Fields of Gold” is beautifully executed, as are the ethereal “Foggy Dew” and “Walking In the Air”.
By Roman C. Guzman - KRVR, The River
Moorland Winds quickly became my family's favorite CD shortly after it's first play. My wife keeps taking my copy, my daughter listens to it when she goes to bed I will have it on just about all the time. Absolutely beautiful music from beginning to end. It's very nice that Sarah Copus is such a talented young lady but, for me, all that really matters is the music. Does it move me, does it get inside me, does it take me on a journey.... Moorland Winds does that and more. Sarah Copus was clearly born to play.
By R J Lannan, ZMR
Moorland Winds is the marriage of music and magic brought about by the creativity of talented harpist and extraordinary vocalist Sarah Copus. Celtic, Irish Traditional, and pop favorites are woven into a fabric of strong musical textures, ethereal vocals and masterful instrumentation. In no time at all, every one will be a favorite. Highly recommended.
By Tony Lawless, Tradconnect
Sarah Copus was just 10 years old when she performed solo for the first time, singing and playing harp. Now after hundreds of performances, at the age of 13, Sarah is releasing a solo album of her favourite music called Moorland Winds. When asked about the tracks she chose for the album, Sarah said: “Some of these pieces are simply classics. Some are very old, perhaps even ancient. I love performing them so much that I wanted to make sure they would be around for a long time to come.”
Sarah is an award-winning and Billboard charting singer/songwriter who lives in the Dallas/Ft Worth area. She has been performing and recording for over 7 years with her parent's platinum selling progressive new age band, 2002, and more recently as a solo artist. As an artist under the age of 18, she has had some extraordinary success: two albums hit the Billboard Charts that feature her as lead singer, radio airplay across hundreds of stations worldwide, and a Best Vocal Album award from the Zone Music Reporter Awards Show in 2015. Her most recent recording was with 2002 on Celtic Fairy Lullaby which we launched on Tradconnect in March 2016.
This is a track from Moorland Winds called 'Wind on the Moor', an ancient folk song from the Hebrides played on Celtic harp and sung in both English and Scottish Gaelic.
Sarah has been a student of the North Texas School of Irish Music for over 5 years and during that time has learned a lot, explored Irish and Scottish music and has travelled to Ireland as part of the school’s annual student exchange programme. North Texas School is very active when it comes to traditional music and has played a big part in Sarah’s early musical life. Combining this experience with her recording and performance work with 2002 has been a life-changing adventure.
In a recent discussion with Sarah’s mother Pamela Copus, she explained the background to this solo recording: “The reason for Moorland Winds, is that Sarah (being a harpist) gets lots of requests to perform, not just at weddings, but senior centers, libraries, restaurants, and of course, any Celtic-type festival or pub. She did 160 performances during the 2014 - 2016 period, not just solo harp, but with quite a few other bands. She was getting constant requests for a CD featuring the exact music from the performances. So she gathered up the set lists, picked out her favourites and invited some of the other musicians she had performed with to create the product that was in so much demand.”
“On a personal note, as parents, it’s a time-capsule for us. So was Celtic Fairy Lullaby. When we recorded Celtic Fairy Lullaby, Sarah had been singing in a Gaelic youth chorus for years. We knew those days would eventually end and we very much wanted to capture those songs. But it became more than just a memento for us of that magic time in Sarah’s life. It became a rather nice album and has been well-received.”
"Moorland Winds is a new time capsule. Sarah has grown immensely as a vocalist, musician and arranger. She has some serious skills in the recording studio. Her voice has matured. You know, most parents make 'scrapbooks' with all the photos and bits and pieces of memories and important events in their children’s lives. I guess we make albums instead. You know Sarah was only 5 years old when she recorded backing vocals on Yeshua. That song eventually wound up on our album Believe. As the years have passed, her contributions have grown considerably. The future of 2002 is very bright. We are all so excited with all of the things we can do now as 3 people. (Plus we are super-excited to have a violin/fiddle in the band!).”
By Chris Spector, Midwest Record
No longer just a cute kid helping mommy out in the recording studio, still counting as a tyro at 13, this award winning Celtic harpist might not have an E ticket to Taylor Swift sized wealth but if we measure her success on artistic merit, she might be the reigning queen of the galactic playground for many years to come. A solidly wise beyond her years recording, don't patronize her for being 13 years old---admire the chops anyone would sacrifice something just to approach. Perhaps the best indigenous Celtic inspired recording to come along in many years, this young un is going to have some mighty proud moments to look back on. Killer stuff throughout.
By Gail Roberts – Céili Magazine July – August 2017
Sarah Copus is a local treasure, only 13 years old but with a resume many adult musicians would envy. She has had two albums hit the Billboard Charts and won Best Vocal Album Award from Zone Music Reporter Awards Show in 2015. Just this year, Sarah was a featured performer at the 2017 North Texas Irish Festival and has performed with internationally acclaimed groups such as Celtic Woman, The Irish Tenors and Celtic Thunder. Her musical skills include singing and playing the harp, violin, piano and ukulele.
Moorland Winds is her latest release and it is stunning in its beauty and polish. It’s a perfect showcase for both her talent as a harpist and her lovely singing voice. On several songs, she performs in both Gaelic and English, bringing an authenticity to traditional Irish tunes.
Beginning with the haunting Wind on the Moor, the ethereal melody of the harp transports the listener to a windswept moor, borne by her angelic rendition of Gaelic song of longing. The sweet sadness of remembering long ago love also comes through softly in her rendition of Fields of Gold.
Gleanntáin Ghlas’ Ghaoth Dobhair was made for Sarah’s haunting harp and delicate Gaelic voice. It really showcases her mastery of the instrument, conveying much emotion in her song. Lest you think this album is all delicacy and lightness, she captures the traditional spirit of festive dancing in Rights of Man/Off to California and Merrily Kiss the Quaker/The Mist Covered Mountain, as well as several other traditional songs.
Her arrangement of the classic Foggy Dew was not the usual aggressive almost martial sound one usually hears, but a thoughtful, melancholy lament of lost youth and lives given in search of freedom.
One of my favorites on this album was Walking in the Air. It’s mystical and magical and so exquisite. I could listen to this song over and over. Close your eyes, listen and you will be walking in the air and floating in the midnight sky along with Sarah.
For the ultimate enjoyment of the nuances and delicacy that a talented harpist can achieve, the haunting beauty of Dawning of the Day makes me appreciate the emotional impact of the instrument that is the ultimate symbol of Ireland – the harp.
The sound mixing in this album was pitch perfect and her arrangements suited both her voice and her instrument. It’s an excellent production and a pleasure to listen to.
Sarah’s skill at such a young age makes me excited to think of what a wonderful future she has ahead of herself making music. I look for her to be a Headliner at the North Texas Irish Festival in not too many years!
By One World Music - May 28, 2017
To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect with this new release from Sarah, I have known 2002 for eons now and expectation was high, but we can confirm that she has solidly taken her place and stands not only with her parents in a musical masterclass of excellence, but now on her own right as a performer that has an amazing potential to achieve literally anything she wishes.
One can tell by the opener that she means business; it’s called Wind on the Moor. Her skills on the harp are blissful and the violin on this piece creates such a wonderland of Celtic harmony.
I’m quite glad in a way that this album has crossed my desk as I have been thinking for some time about putting a Celtic music special show together for One World Music Radio, now I have more material, and this one is a cert to make the playlist should I do so, and called Rights of Man – Off To California. This jig is a real fascinating combination of instrumentation, Sara Copus has brought a delightful sense of movement and rhythm into this fun and light-hearted composition and one that reminds me of Celtic band Govannen.
This musical journey dear reader is a real pleasure to walk, and with the talented hand of Sarah Copus at the wheel, we can be assured of a truly fresh and fascinating sojourn. As an example of the abilities of the musician listen to a track you may remember best from the artist Sting. Fields of Gold is a stunningly beautiful song filled full of passion and desire and Copus puts in a superb performance here. I have sung this song myself, and I can tell you it’s not that easy, a splendid rendition.
Next up is a piece called Merrily Kiss The Quaker – The Mist Covered Mountain and it’s time to jig to another reel, one that has a sense of liberated fun about its energy. There is simply nothing to dislike about this track and this is placed cleverly to make us feel that through music, we are once more off on another pathway through the labyrinths of this fantastic release.
For a moment, let’s stop once more, we can now feel that all around us the day has just about started and through Foggy Dew that is portrayed brilliantly. There can be no denying that Copus is a fine Harp player, and while we watch the mists rise to unveil another day, we can bathe in her rich tones of Celtic magic and mystery.
On Gleanntain Ghlas Ghaoth Dobhai, which I believe translates into the green glens of Gweedore, we have another precise performance from the young artist, this is sung in the Irish Language and wonderfully so. This is a track that seems to float across the mind, like a dove dancing with the Sunday morning sun.
It’s time to pick up you knapsack and once again were on our way, we can dance along the hill sides and through the valleys onto our next stop with the lively, Hut on Staffin Island-Paddy's Trip to Scotland.
At this point we now find our journey has taken us into the second half of the album where we find a fine composition called Star of the County Down. Now ease back to this lovely arrangement, this is so carefully and delicately played and also a piece that creates a great atmosphere as it goes.
Walking in the Air, this is usually a song we hear every Christmas, but the composition seems to fit the overall collection and project with a sublime majesty. The vocals of the young Copus seem to have an equal measure of talent with her skills on the harp; a nice production can be found here, some clever overlaid vocals that manifest something truly special, all this goes to create a very class filled offering.
Once more it’s time to move onward, and we can do this with the energy created by this next piece called, Buttercup Spree-Garret Barry's-Clare Jig. Sarah Copus has created a brilliantly thought out intent to move us through the project with these wonderfully styled up-tempo musical links, nothing more than sheer genius at work.
As we break from our reel, you will find yourself in a sun kissed meadow of many delights called Down by the Sally Gardens, yet another example of the musician’s prowess on both harp and angelic vocals; her tone and pitch reminds me so much of Celtic singer Juliana.
We’re now very deep within the album and we come across a dreamy opus called Dawning of the Day, this is an opportunity taken by the artist to once more deliver a perfect performance on Harp. The tempo and energy of this composition is like drifting down a stream on a hot July morning.
So now let’s go homeward and jig our way through the green meadows and run down the footpaths; we can do this to an arrangement called Harvest Home-Boys of Bluehill. This slice of classic Celtic refrain will lead us right into the loving arms of the last track on the album called She Moved Through the Fair. Now if you haven’t heard this composition before, where have you been? Sarah Copus has decided to leave us with this parting gift of an all-time legend of a song. This has been covered, re-arranged and performed by many, many artists over the decades, but we must honestly say that this careful and very respectful version is one very classy rendition, and as such she leaves us with a moment of sublime class and professionalism.
With the background and support that Sarah Copus has, it’s no wonder that the release of this her debut album is going to be a huge success, however one has to say that each track has been carefully crafted, subtly arranged and produced, and the layout of the release, cleverly thought-out. Sarah Copus will, in years to come, look back at this album and be very proud of what she has achieved, but for now she can sit back and watch her legacy grow, as Moorland Winds is a superb first release, from an artist of such tender years, but immense talent.
By William MacArthur - Celtic Radio – May 2017
Sarah Copus is a talented award-winning performer. She sings and writes her own songs, but she is also an accomplished harpist. In her particular case, music is something that truly runs in the family. She has been making music for many years alongside her parents, who are in a new age prog bands. However, in 2016 Sarah took the next step forward and decided to try her hand at a solo career. Even under the young age of 18, she managed to hit the Billboard charts with not one, but two albums, which generated positive responses, airplay and rave reviews on a global scale.
Sarah also performs in Gaelic, and is heavily involved with the Texas Celtic music community, often performing with talented local musicians and attending events, festivals and venues on a regular basis.
Sarah is only 13, yet she already has a stunning debut album under her name and a recent recording called Moorland Winds. This record features powerful renditions of stunning classics, performed with a lot of passion, respect, and humility. The artist herself stated that she decided to record these songs out of her love for these timeless melodies, and her desire to help preserve them for new generations of listeners.
The result is a record featuring some well-known folk songs, but also some performances that have a deep, personal touch and a strong connection with the artist. Sarah managed to showcase her musicianship on this release, not only by highlighting her versatility as a harpist, but also by exposing her vocal chops, with great harmonies, a really nice range, and some amazing arrangements. On this record, other talented musicians also appear, including Sarah’s parents, Randy and Pamela (on guitar and whistle, respectively), as well as Rick Holt (Bodhran), Nathan Kennedy (Fiddle) and James Song (violin).
The album is currently available worldwide via iTunes, and you can learn more about this young talent directly on Sarah’s official website:
5 Stars from Celtic Radio!