‘Sing, Sarah, sing!’ could be said to sum up Sarah Collins’ approach to life — and it’s what she told herself to calm her emotions when sharing the stage with a global music star.
It’s nearly two weeks since Sarah found herself performing the hit LeAnn Rimes song How Do I Live alongside the megastar herself.
The surreal moment was the culmination of an extraordinary day during which Sarah was quite literally thrust into the national limelight in the unexpected star segment of the primetime BBC One programme Michael McIntyre’s Big Show.
Sarah had been with her husband Tom in what she believed was a country music bar in London when the wall fell away and she was stunned to find herself on stage. She was at the famous Theatre Royal in Drury Lane in front of 2,000 people, among them her son Freddie and daughter Lily.
But singing has been Sarah’s passion and comfort throughout her life – and it was there for her once again, helping her compose herself and focus after the shock of seeing LeAnn Rimes join her on stage.
“Before I went on, the producer said to me, ‘Just enjoy the moment’, and that’s all I was thinking. Then LeAnn came on and I could quite easily have sobbed through it all. But I just said to myself, ‘Sing, Sarah, sing!’ I knew I might not get an opportunity like this again.
“I’ll never forget singing with LeAnn. She’s a Grammy Award winner! She is such an amazing lady. She’s so beautiful, absolutely stunning. It was just a lovely vibe on the stage with her, really welcoming and calm. She made it easy for me to sing with her. She was so kind and allowed me to shine in the song.”
“I’m enjoying every moment”
A professional singer, Sarah has performed in theatres, festivals and other venues across the UK and abroad since the age of nine. While recovering from a brain tumour in 2012, she used music as a form of therapy and in 2014 set up a YouTube channel, which now has 45,000 subscribers, singing Motown and Northern Soul classics from her bedroom. She said:
“I just love entertaining and singing, I love moving people. I can sing to two people or thousands, it doesn’t matter to me. It’s the music; it’s like a healing thing. My illness was an awful thing to go through and has changed my life forever. But it has given me a different outlook on life.
“I’m enjoying every moment; I’m not taking anything for granted. That approach has really resonated with people, a lot of people have said I’ve really helped them. In the times that we are living in now, music unites us; it brings us together.”
The show was watched by around seven million people when it aired on January 27, among them Sarah herself. Until then, she’d only had her memories of the day and had no idea how it looked to the audience. She watched it in her living room with Tom, Freddie and Lily, and admits to ‘being nervous and ready to hide behind the sofa’.
She needn’t have worried. Sarah’s duet with LeAnn Rimes was a triumph. She received a deluge of comments from viewers across the country, among them celebrities such as Zoe Ball, who mentioned the performance on her Breakfast Show and privately messaged Sarah to say she had been ‘phenomenal’. And LeAnn Rimes herself has been in touch several times with messages of encouragement and saying how lovely it had been for her, too.
“I never expected it to be received so well and for so many people to be reduced to tears. It’s been a real outpouring of emotion. I really appreciate all the feedback, it’s been fantastic. There’s been no negativity on social media or anywhere. I can’t believe it. It really does restore your faith in humanity.
“I’m still getting comments from people when I’m out and about. The first day I went out in Harrogate after the show aired, I met some friends in a coffee shop and a couple came over and said they thought I was fabulous. In town, I was stopped by two people who were visiting Harrogate for the day and recognised me, while another lady came up and shook my hand. It’s crazy; it’s just little me.”
A dream come true
Sarah said it’s been a special moment for her mum, too. Sarah said her mum is like her best friend and was the person that got her into performing at the age of nine when she took her to an audition for Joseph at the Bradford Alhambra. About four years ago, Sarah stopped performing with her band after her mum had a stroke and she felt unable to ‘smile on stage and be happy’. Her mum has never fully recovered and recently moved into a nursing home. Sarah said:
“She’s seen the show and said, ‘I’m proud of you’. I went to see her in the nursing home yesterday and she was showing a clip of the show on her phone to one of the nurses.”
She’s had lots of messages on YouTube and her other social media accounts, and has seen a spike in new followers. She’s also set up a TikTok account. But she’ll be continuing to record her YouTube videos and thanked her long-term followers for their support. She said:
“YouTube has opened up a lot of opportunities for me but I’m not doing it to show off. I enjoy it, it’s so intimate and easy to do. There’s no point being false. I‘m not chasing anything, I haven’t got anything to prove.”
Sarah still can’t quite believe her moment on television with one of the world’s biggest stars was real, and says she hasn’t stopped ‘flying’. She said:
“It’s still amazing. It was a dream come true, completely out of this world. I could do it every week! Everyone involved in the show was so lovely and made me feel so special. It’s something that I’ll never forget; it’s a memory to cherish.”
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