Sara (a.k.a. Swa) Diamond is a young and talented Canadian singer and songwriter. She's known for her memorable performance singing the American and Canadian anthems at Montreal Canadiens playoffs. Sara is so inspiring and fresh, just like a breath of fresh air. She's following her dreams and wants to inspire others to do the same. Never stop working at what you believe in!
When and how did you start your singing career?
I’ve had a pretty (long and winding) road towards a music career. I actually started by singing on my mom’s children’s albums at 5, through her label KIDZUP. I decided that I wanted to pursue music when I was ten, which led to my first album (think Hannah Montana meets Macy Gray on helium). At 14, I joined a girl group in LA that was signed to Interscope Records. It lasted for about 3 months. After the girl group stint, we decided to stay in LA and give the Hollywood Dream a shot. But after almost 2 years of broken promises and not-what-meets-the-eye lifestyles, I was sad, tired, and ready to come home.
I stopped singing for 4 years after that, and went into commerce at Dawson, and Management at McGill. I convinced myself that I was done with singing, and that I had been in it for the wrong reasons. But once I started singing for the Montreal Canadiens, it all came flowing back. And I knew, the second time around, that it was for real. My love for singing had never gone away- I had just been too scared to give it another shot. Last January, I decided to take on music full time. This year, I have one official single out (Just Give In prod. by Noah Barer & Cavewerk!!) and a bunch of plans for the rest of my journey in music. :)
How did you know that this was “your calling”? What was your other career alternative?
I think deep down I’ve always known that music was my calling. It just took some time to come to terms with and accept it. But one distinct moment for me was during my first year of doing the Playoffs (2014). It was our final game against the Rangers, third round. Everyone was telling me that we were going to lose, but I had hope! When we got eliminated, I actually started to cry. It sounds cheesy, but I knew then and there that I would have to do whatever it would take to get that joy back- the joy of singing to and with people, and of connecting with people through music. Even though I was only singing anthems, those 2 minutes on the ice were pure bliss for me. And it was the feeling that brought the joy. There is no place that I feel more myself than on stage.
I’m fascinated by science - love medicine- am intrigued by law - but the only career that brings the sparkle to my eye is music. And if you’re going to spend your life’s work on something, it should be something that you love.
Describe your experience singing the American and Canadian anthems for the Montreal Canadiens playoffs. How do you deal with anxiety before a big performance like that?
It’s such a surreal experience! I think Habs fans are more passionate and invested than fans from any other NHL team, but during the Playoffs, they reach another level. The energy is electric, and really helps fuel me for the games.
I get nervous about 30 minutes before I sing, up until about 30 seconds before. Once it’s showtime, the nerves disappear and I get to my happy place! To help calm my nerves, I like to meditate. Deep breathing does wonders, and so does visualization! Visualize the performance (going perfectly!) before you go out there, and it’ll really put your mind at ease.
How do you deal with people who don’t believe in you?
I take my ego out of it. Sure- it stings. But there will always be people who disapprove of what you’re doing. I look at the bigger picture - WHY am I pursuing music? I think about all that I want to accomplish and the people I want to inspire and connect with. While I’m doing this, I’m able to sort of step outside of myself and realize that the passion and drive within me outweighs the fear of failure or criticism. When you do that, you realize that the disapproval of one person (or maybe a few) doesn’t matter if YOU believe in YOURSELF.
If there was one thing you’ve learned from doing what you love, what would it be?
I think it would be that freedom comes from following your bliss. I have never felt more free, happy, grateful, and driven than I do now that I am pursuing music. Because I LOVE it. And if I can make a career out of it, every day will be a good day.
How do you stay motivated to keep on going?
I have no plan B! Just kidding. Whenever I have moments of doubt, I think about why I started. I think about all of the people who support my dream. And I think about the little girl inside - would I want her to give up when the going gets tough? No! I would tell her to breathe, focus on working hard, learn from the obstacle, and keep learning, doing, and growing.
What do you like doing in your spare time in Montreal?
To be honest, I use my spare time to catch up with friends and family. We love finding new restaurants - we are definitely foodies. Other than that, I love to read, run, do barre, and scour the internet for new music.
How do you react to competition?
I’ve had a shift in perspective when it comes to competition. Sure - it would take a zen master to never feel pangs of jealousy or competition. So when I have those moments, I think about something I once read that really stuck with me: one person’s success does not mean your failure. And it’s true!
What I’ve realized over the past year or so is that everybody has a story, and everybody has a journey. The friends that I’ve made who are also pursuing music are some of the best friendships I have. You learn to support instead of compete - and there is nothing more satisfying than seeing someone you love or admire succeed if you have this mindset. Healthy competition with yourself is beneficial and, in my opinion, necessary. There is always more to learn and improve at. But always competing with others is tiring, and doesn’t get YOU closer to YOUR goal.
How do you deal with rejection and/or failure?
Honestly, you just have to get back up and keep going. I really don’t believe in failing - everything is a lesson learned. I think that things happens for a reason. I’ve had many rejections. But EVERY time I look back, I see that the rejection in one area led to success and/or more happiness in another. You just have to keep pushing forward.
Are there any future or current projects you’re working on that you’d like to share with our readers?
I actually just released my first single! (Just Give In prod. by Noah Barer & Cavewerk) I’m working with two amazingly talented producers named Noah Barer and Cavewerk, and I’m so so excited to see this project through. You can follow along through social media - Instagram @saradiamondmusic, Twitter @saradiamond, and SoundCloud - saradiamondmusic. There will definitely be more soon. :)