TAKE 10 1&A | Sydney McMath: Pianist, Plus..

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Live music adds so much to a wedding. I’ve played many weddings, and it’s always such an intimate experience to share music for the prelude and ceremony. It’s also fun to get such a variety of song requests…I’ve had everything from Wagner to U2! Experienced musicians can provide more flexibility with timing and a more personal experience than one can have with recorded music.

I’m getting married this summer, and immediately thought of Sydney McMath for ceremony music. She’s quite a versatile musician, playing several instruments and multiple styles. She is a rare bird (nod to her love of animals) in that she is equally gifted in improvisation and reading “off the page.” In addition to weddings and private parties, she also performs at the Chapman Cultural Center, local nursing homes, churches, restaurants and bars. Again, she’s got a lot of variety! She teaches piano and voice lessons as well.

In addition to her musicianship, she’s an eclectic creative: she also creates visual art, makes jewelry, bakes a mean coffee cake, and creates unusual chocolate combinations (like the green Matcha chocolate bark pictured). She is a founding member of Spartanburg’s West Main Co-op and currently serves on their marketing and membership committees. While she moved to New Orleans a few years ago, she visits often throughout the year and keeps close ties to our area.

1) What’s the most unusual song you’ve been asked to play for a wedding?
Bad Romance by Lady Gaga

2) What are some of your favorite pieces to perform for weddings?

Canon in D (will always be a favorite); Schubert’s Ave Maria; Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring; River Flows in You (Yiruma).

3) What’s something memorable you’ve seen happen at a wedding?

One time a dad and daughter did this really traditional father daughter dance at the reception. I want to say it was “I loved her first” or something. They slow danced…of course everyone was crying, then they turned their backs, put on sunglasses, and did this insane hip hop dance. Apparently they had been taking dance classes together and surprised everyone. It was hilarious!

4) Which instruments do you play?
Mainly piano and guitar but I have played sax, clarinet, flute, and French horn. I’ve done some percussion but piano is my main instrument.

5) What’s a song you gravitate toward?
The song I could literally play over and over forever is Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen).

6) What’s your earliest musical memory?
My first piano teacher was this creepy dude, Mr. Walker, who would come to our house. He always got mad at me because I told him directly I didn’t practice my assignments and then I played them for him by ear without practicing.. then I played a song I wrote about a squirrel that was hit by a car (I was 4).

7) What’s the first animal you rescued?
I don’t remember the first actual rescue. I know we had a baby bunny when I was 4-5 who died and then we always had rabbits after that, but I don’t know about rescues. Probably baby birds. We always seemed to have baby birds but i don’t remember exactly when they started.

8) How many pets do you have?
So many. Is too many a good answer? Lol. I have:
2 african spurred tortoises (sulcatae); one is a rescue
1 ball python
2 pigeons, siblings. Rescued.
2 blue and gold macaws. Both rescues.
One green cheek conure. Rescue.
One African grey. Rescue.
One Patagonian conure. Not a rescue lol.
One dove. Rescue.

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9) What’s your most memorable animal rescue story?
I think my most recently memorable rescue is the little dove. She was so tiny and I was certain she would die. But she is doing amazing and sleeps in bed with me every night on her blanket or my hand. ️
Before that, i always used to take squirrels and other critters that were homeless due to construction or tree work. One day Zach Hanley (area musician who owns a tree service) called me and had a few baby squirrels. One died. Two survived. One went into the wild in his natural timeframe and the other stayed scared in my yard for days til I took her in. She stayed with me, living inside the house in a huge parrot cage, for 8 years til she randomly ran off right before I moved to New Orleans. I firmly believe she’s still in my yard in SC. I know I’ve seen her!

10) You moved to New Orleans a few years ago, but come back to visit and perform in SC regularly. What’s something you love about New Orleans? What’s something you love about SC?
I love the friends and support I have in SC. I love how the arts and music are being nurtured in the Upstate and Western North Carolina, as well as the musical traditions in the region. I love the mountains and my adorable house. I love New Orleans for its constant unapologetic colorfulness and its to-the-death defense of music and the arts and culture. There’s always a parade, always music, always art, and of course I love the blues.

Sydney McMath may be contacted at reverendsyd@gmail.com, or 864-621-1051.

For information on her jewelry, visit facebook.com/humaneheartsterling (all proceeds go to Animal Rescue).

Alison Turner, Contributor

Alison has been involved in performing arts throughout her life. She is a graduate of Converse College & a music therapist. She also serves as the Vice President of Carma, Inc. Alison covers Upstate Performing Arts stories for Upstate Exposures. Contact her at AlisonDTurner@Mail.com

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