Feb 24, 2014
09:54 PMArts & Entertainment
Fresh Off Gig With 'X-Factor' Brand Name, Connecticut Singer Wins Best New Act
She's not on "The Voice" or in Hollywood with the "American Idol" contestants, but fresh off a gig in which she opened for an "X-Factor" brand name, Connecticut singer-songwriter Sarah Barrios took home the prize for the Best New Act of the Year at the New England Music Awards this past weekend – a big step for the rising talent who only took up singing seriously last April.
She was nominated for the award at the end of the year, leaving it up to the voters to decide who would win at the 3rd annual awards ceremony held at The Lowell Memorial Auditorium.
“I was shocked and shaking for about five minutes after I won, out of pure excitement,” says Barrios, a resident of Torrington. “I am so unbelievably honored to have won Best New Act of the Year and been amongst such amazing musicians.”
According to the website for the awards, the New England Music Awards are presented every year to the musicians who call New England their home and whose dedication, spirit, and achievements over the last year have without a doubt established themselves as a contributing force to the most robust and diverse music scene in the country. The NEMA nominating committee consists of journalists from music publications, radio personalities, talent buyers, and record label execs collectively representing all six New England states.
Barrios is following up the win with more live performances – her bread and butter for the last year – and work on her first EP. About $2,000 has been pledged from fans on her RocketHub page. She hopes to raise $7,400.
See our story below previewing a concert in February, in which Barrios opened for Jillian Jensen.
Less than a year after auditioning for Season 2 of “The X-Factor,” where she made it into the top 200 performers but not on to the show, 19-year-old Sarah Barrios has brushed up against a star-making television show again—as she will be opening for Season 2 Top 24 contestant Jillian Jensen in a Feb. 7 show at The Space in Hamden. (The show was initially scheduled for January but was postponed by a snowstorm.)
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. For tickets, visit www.thespacect.com.
Jensen, the raspy-voiced Massachusetts native, began singing when she was a toddler, and she began writing her own songs by age 8, according to her website. Jensen has opened for James Taylor, sang backup for Pussy Cat Doll Nicole Scherzinger on "Live With Regis and Kelly", performed for President Barrack Obama and sang the National Anthem at Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and New York Mets games.
She released her first single, “I Am Whole” on iTunes in June, and has been performing as a solo artist around her home state, Rhode Island and Connecticut for the last several months. (Above, a photo of Jensen from "The X-Factor" website.)
Torrington-based Barrios has a lot in common with her stage-mate—namely her passion for writing heartfelt music, such as her original song, “We’re Young,” in which she encourages people to forget their problems and enjoy themselves. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rCRTluxuz8
“It’s cool because I watched Season 2 so I saw them on the show and it’s nice to meet them in person,” Barrios said of working with the two “X-Factor” contestants; she opened for Season 2 contestant Janelle Garcia in November at The Space.
Opening for Jensen is one of many notable events in the young singer’s blossoming career. Barrios was discovered only nine months ago when she participated in an open mic night at Infinity Music Hall & Bistro in Norfolk. She won that competition and has been performing around Connecticut ever since.
Her year has been packed with performances at Bridge Street Live in Collinsville, The Space and The Spaceland Ballroom in Hamden, The Vanilla Bean Café in Pomfret, The Webster Theatre in Hartford and many outdoor events and venues.
“It has been pretty crazy,” Barrios said. “There’s been a whirlwind of things moving around, and it’s starting to pick up speed.”
She has no intention of slowing down, as she is already booked well through January. And last weekend Barrios returned to the place where it all began, Infinity Music Hall, to headline with two other open mic winners.
“That started it all so it’s cool to headline there,” Barrios said.
From there, the young artist will headline at the Bitter End in New York City Jan. 16, a venue that has seen the likes of Bob Dylan, Carly Simon, Billy Joel, Lady Gaga and many more memorable artists.
The venue contacted her mom and manager, Trish Barrios, to inquire about her performing on their stage after they saw several of her Youtube videos.
“That’s really really big, so I’m excited,” said Barrios.
Another thing she’s excited about is her recent nomination for the Rising Artist Detection and Recognition (RADAR) award at the New England Music Awards. She will find out if she won the category on Jan. 1. If she does she will perform at the awards ceremony on Feb. 22 at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium and several other select shows throughout the year.
Barrios has been working on her debut EP at a local studio and is hoping to release it in the spring just in time to kick off a tour through the summer.
Fans can support her EP by going to her RocketHub crowdfunding website and donating as little as $5 or as much as $1,000. Every little bit helps, and Barrios has pledged to give a gift to each donor.