At the tender age of two, Sarah Calderwood announced her ambition to become a performer by toppling a mannequin off its podium in an Adelaide department store and proceeding to take its place in a boisterous and all-too-public rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Extensive practice in singing into maracas in her bedroom followed, and with the benefit of a musical family and three talented sisters, from the age of six when her family moved to Brisbane she grew up in a household where singing elaborate four-part harmonies during the washing-up seemed a perfectly natural way of life.
The classical flute became her instrument, and her many years of study of the instrument gave her a thorough grounding in classical music technique.
Then, during a brief stint in the musical theatre program at Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music in Mackay, Sarah undertook her only formal vocal lessons, while simultaneously learning that her two left feet made her unsuited to a career on Broadway.
And so it was that, at the age of 19, Sarah Calderwood made the defining decision of her career.
She ran away and joined a Celtic folk group.
The musicians in question were Sunas, the much-loved stars of Australia’s vibrant Celtic music scene. And far from stealing away the bright young singer from her mainstream musical calling, the band’s founding members Mannie McAllister and Paul Brandon not only became (and remain) her best friends, but they opened musical horizons that have continued to expand ever since during their now ten year association.
They have now played over 1200 shows together, headlining numerous national and international festivals including this year’s National Folk Festival in Canberra and National Celtic Festival in Portarlington, and touring constantly, including to Russia and the United Kingdom where they appeared at Dougie MacLean’s legendary Perthshire Amber Festival.
As well as fronting the band on vocals, flute and whistles, in 2006 Sarah took over the management of Sunas as well. Two highly successful albums and a concert DVD have followed, with the band’s second album Celtic Road (its first on ABC Classics) spending six consecutive weeks in the ARIA Classical Top 10 and receiving extensive radio play including on classical music stations.
A fitness fanatic, Sarah is known for her long distance running, circuit training, boxing, and boot camps, including one recently with Biggest Loser trainer Michelle Bridges at Ballymore as the finale to her 12 Week ‘Body Transformation’ program.