Sabrina Duke: Always Makes Time for Music

Sabrina Duke

“Singing and making music have been my passion since I can remember,” says Sabrina Duke, who says she grew up singing all the time to whoever would listen. By 12, she began writing her own songs with a double track recorder, microphone, and a keyboard. By 15, she had joined the first of a succession of bands that introduced her to the Central Pennsylvania music scene and led to bigger and bigger shows.

“I flew to Nashville in 2003 and was offered a recording contract, but I respectfully declined,” she says. “As much as I wanted to ‘make it big’ I couldn’t sell my soul to the music industry. I wanted to remain in control of my talent so that I didn’t lose the passion I had for music.”

Duke, instead continued college for elementary education and received her bachelor’s degree in 2006. She also continued to write songs and perform with guitarist and cowriter, Frank Tittiger.

“Even when I began working at Red Lion Area School District as an elementary school teacher and gave birth to my son, I continued to pursue music,” she says. Duke has been teaching for seven years, and earned her master’s degree at Penn State. She is also a single mom.

Duke released a self-titled debut album in May 2013. “I currently perform both acoustically and with a full band an average of four times a month,” she says. Last year’s accomplishments included organizing a domestic violence awareness benefit, performing at the City of York New Year’s Eve celebration, and singing at the mayor’s inauguration.

“It’s not always easy to balance a profession in teaching, being a mom, and a career in music, but I couldn’t be happier living with the best of both worlds,” says Duke.

Q & A 

Who are your main influences?

I have many influences—Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner,
Etta James, Mariah Carey, Madonna, and Hall & Oates.

Why do you continue to make music?

Making music is like breathing air for me. If I stop I feel like I am no longer living. I think any musician will tell you, when you have it in you, it’s something that never goes away no matter what you do.

How do you continue to learn?

I work with and meet so many talented people all the time. I observe closely and love to hear constructive criticism. I’ve learned so much just from jumping in and taking chances. The recording studio really taught me a lot about controlling my vocals and songwriting in general.

What benefits have you found to making music?

Making music allows you to release what you want with the world. It is my vice and my form of creative energy.
I love the rush I get when I perform for a live audience. It also makes you a stronger person because there is always criticism when you share something so personal.

How do you make time for music in your life?

When I am not teaching, I am basically making music, whether I am writing, rehearsing, or performing. My son is a part of it as much as possible, but I book gigs that are not kid friendly on nights that his father has him. Also,
I don’t get a whole lot of sleep.

What advice do you have for someone getting back into music later in life?

Begin by playing open mics. This is a great way to showcase your music in a low-key environment and network with musicians.

What is the best memory you have of making music?

When I performed “Wind Beneath My Wings” at a high school talent show. I was very insecure. I had this passion and talent in me, but was nervous to share it. After I finished singing my song on stage, I received a standing ovation. I saw students and parents alike with tears in their eyes. I think that was a defining moment for me. How could I not share this with the world?

–If you liked this article then you might like our feature on Jessica Brown.

–Or read our story on Matthew Kenny.

Instead of being dedicated to one instrument, young musicians, or professionals, is a lifestyle resource for all music makers, regardless of age, instrument, or ability. We focus on providing educational articles teaching people how to play an instrument, but we also favor travel pieces, music related health articles, interesting news stories, and plenty more.

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