Aug 20, 2013
03:32 PM
Arts & Entertainment

After "X Factor" Try, Sweet-Voiced Torrington Singer, 19, on the Rise

After "X Factor" Try, Sweet-Voiced Torrington Singer, 19, on the Rise

Sarah Barrios in a photo from her Facebook page.

In a TV era partial to introducing new unsung talent to the wide world through such shows as “The Voice,” “American Idol” and “The X-Factor,” 19-year-old Sarah Barrios of Torrington is a fresh young performer who seems to be poised on the verge of a breakthrough.

On her original song “Don’t Look Back,” she takes on the issue of young women’s self-esteem, and points to the truism that fulfillment comes from being who you are and not who you’re not. She has a sweet, almost angelic voice that embodies qualities of honesty and innocence as it sometimes reaches toward the ethereal range favored by Sarah McLachlan and other times rides the gravity of a lower, earthier register.

Barrios is engaged in a  whirlwind summer filled with live performances—after the Connecticut native only took to the stage for the first time in April—and it has been a bit of  an up and down ride so far in her very young career.

In April, she auditioned live for “The X-Factor” in the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, N.Y. She was one of the top 200 out of 11,000 performers, but she didn’t make it beyond that point. She was happy to have made it that far but still disappointed about not getting through the first round. She decided to try her luck again and audition online for the show; this time she made it through the first and second rounds but was cut before the third.

In Connecticut, the picture has been brighter.


Barrios—who describes her music as a fusion of acoustic, pop and folk and performs a number of covers as well as her own original songs—discovered the open mic nights at Infinity Music Hall &  Bistro in Norfolk.

Infinity Hall has a competition in which performers from the open mic nights are selected to compete on the main stage. The winner of each round in those competitions gets the opportunity to open for a national touring act.

In April, right after her “X-Factor experience,” Barrios competed and won that honor. She is still waiting to hear what act she will open for, but the notoriety of winning alone has helped put her on the map—even if that map is just a regional one at the moment.

In recent months, Barrios has performed at various business events, farmers markets and any other gig "I [could] get my hands on.” This Sunday, for example, will see her return to Canton to play the Collinsville Farmer’s Market for a second time. (She will perform a three-hour set starting at 10 a.m. at the market located in the town hall parking lot at the corner of Route 179 and Main Street.)

Just last weekend, she performed in Coe Memorial Park in Torrington as part of a summer concert series. “That was the biggest show I’ve done. It was the first time I had done a concert of my own, but I really enjoyed it,” said Barrios, although she admitted that she was nervous before the show.

Barrios has a number of performances scheduled through early fall, including taking part in an open mic at the Passiflora Tea Room in New Hartford Sept. 13, and performing at the Playhouse on Park in West Hartford Sept. 21.

And she is gearing up for what will be her biggest show so far, at Bridge Street Live in Collinsville Oct. 18, when Barrios will open for Nashville recording artist Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line.

Her mother, Trish, lovingly called Barrios’ “momager” by friends, reached out to Bridge Street Entertainment Director Pat Ryan to see if her daughter could perform at an open mic. Ryan showed Barrios’ music to Struthers and she asked her to open for her set, said Barrios, who is clearly excited about the opportunity.

Music has always been a staple in the life of this 19-year-old, and she comes from a musical family. Her parents were in a band when they were younger, her father as a drummer and her mother a vocalist. Barrios said she began singing when she was 3.

“They’ve always been really into music even if they weren’t playing,” Barrios said of her parents. “We always had music playing. I enjoyed being around music, but I never really thought of it as a career. I realized it was very difficult to get noticed by important people. It can be difficult to make a living.”


Choosing to be practical, Barrios enrolled at Northwestern Connecticut Community College (NCCC) in Winsted after high school with the idea of pursuing teaching.

After a year, she changed her mind based on a piece of advice from her father, who had urged her to consider her choices carefully and settle on something that “when it gets hard you still love it.”

She decided that she wasn’t passionate enough about teaching to see it through the tough times. What she was passionate about was music and so she decided to take a chance.

“Music has always been a constant thing in my life. I thought, ‘I’m just going to go for it,’” said Barrios.

So, back in April, she went for it with “The X-Factor” audition on Long Island. “I gained a lot more confidence,” Barrios said of the experience. “I have never sang in front of people before, but I thought the worst they can say is no.”

After “The X-Factor,” again it was her father who gave her guidance. He encouraged her to keep performing, and that is exactly what she’s doing, happily.

Despite her recent success, Barrios intends to go back to school at NCCC this fall to study photography. She had changed her major from education to photography before taking time to pursue a musical career seriously. Since then things have changed a lot, and she said she is open to whatever the future brings.

“My dream is to get a recording contract, get managed, make albums and play around the world,” Barrios said. “I want people to know the music that I’ve written and connect with that. I hope to get a single out.”

She may have only been performing live for a few short months, but Barrios said she has learned a lot about herself as an artist.

“I’ve definitely grown a little bit of confidence,” said Barrios. “I know more about myself as a person, and I know what I’m trying to deliver to people.”

“I never want to write a song that doesn’t mean anything,” she elaborated. There’s always a message or a story.”

To learn more, connect with Sarah Barrios on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Reach Kate Hartman at



After "X Factor" Try, Sweet-Voiced Torrington Singer, 19, on the Rise

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