Sarah Khatami would sing everywhere, even in the car on vacation, ever since she was two years old, her mother says.
The 14-year-old Wexford teen will perform at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday as part of the entertainment scheduled for the Cranberry Relay for Life,
Sarah and "Life's Ninjas," a walking team made up of her friends, also will sell accessories made out of duct tape and walk the track to raise money to help in the fight against cancer.
Sarah distinctly remembers the moment when she decided that music was her passion.
She said it started during a regular day in first grade, at lunch, when her best friend asked her if she could sing. So Sarah sang what was then her favorite song "Where is the Love" by the Black Eyed Peas straight through lunch and into recess, captivating her friends, peers and teachers.
“That’s when I decided I wanted to be a singer,” recalled Sarah.
Now she is reaching toward her goal by majoring in musical theater at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School. The sophomore not only sings, but also plays piano and violin, and takes an interest in acting and gymnastics.
“It’s better to be able to do all kinds of stuff. I feel like if you have a little bit of everything, you can perform to your full potential,” Sarah said.
She performs with the group “After School Buddy,” sings the national anthem at different events, and was a finalist at the 2011 Kean Idol competition held at the Kean Theatre in Richland Township.
A Family Affair
Sarah’s mother, Nousha Farasati, never wanted to be the kind of mom who pushed her child to compete. Farasati enjoyed her daughter's singing at home with a karaoke machine and performances at school talent shows, but didn’t force her to take singing more seriously. It wasn’t until two years ago that Sarah even began taking voice lessons.
“I just wanted her to enjoy her childhood,” Farasati said.
Sarah's career is taking off, and her mother and the rest of her family are supportive. The mother and daughter are always driving from one lesson and performance to another.
“I know she’s very passionate about singing. I never complain. I drive her anywhere she wants to go. It is hard, but I don’t mind at all,” Farasati said. Sarah acknowledges her mother's dedication and doesn’t take her support for granted. On Mother’s Day she wrote and performed a song for Farasati that was about how much she appreciates her.
A Girl of Two Countries
Farasati and her husband came to the United States from Iran in the late 1980s to continue their education, and Sarah was born here. Sarah said she gets a lot of inspiration from her parents who overcame the language barrier and cultural differences to find success here. She considers herself 100 percent Iranian and American.
“I have (an) equal amount of passion for both countries. They both have their perks and their beauties,” said Sarah, who has visited her extended family in Iran on multiple occasions.
Farasati is happy that Sarah has a chance to follow her dream of singing. In Iran it is not accepted for women to sing solo on stage. They can only sing together in a choir.
Sarah, who is bilingual, does enjoy singing in her parents' native Iranian language called Farsi.
She performs with the Farsi singing group 8OX run by Afshin Eskandari Nasrabad. Nasrabad agreed to record some of Sarah's original songs for her in a studio.
“Songwriting helps me get my mind off of things,” Sarah said.
Her goals for the future include applying to the Berklee College of Music in Boston and becoming famous like her idols Wexford native Christina Aguilera and Sara Bareilles. Sarah said she would love to appear on the shows that the two singers host: "The Voice" and "The Sing Off."
“In the future, I want to be the next Christina Aguilera,” said Sarah. She mentioned that she attended the same North Allegheny middle school as the pop star.
Farasati chided her daughter: “You are unique Sarah, remember that!”
“In the future I want to be the first Sarah Khatami!” she said with a laugh.