Alejandra Sol Casas
Satara’s sound is akin to New Zealand’s jazz-pop artist Kimbra combined with the sounds of contemporary jazz composer Esperanza Spalding.
San Antonio soul and R&B artist Satara Askew, better known by her stage names Satara or Lil Chicken Baby, has recorded dozens of songs, but only now is the 26-year-old singer getting comfortable about sharing her music.
“I’ve made countless recordings — somewhere around 80 songs, but I’m starting to get momentum and learn how to be comfortable releasing music to the public,” she says as she talks about her upcoming single, “Appetite.” “It’s a really fun little bop, a summertime song with a fun message.”
The release marks the opening of Satara’s musical vault, and it also prompted her to organize her own one-day music festival, Summer Slayout, which will take place at the Aquaduck Beer Garden on Friday, July 30.
Satara’s sound is akin to New Zealand’s jazz-pop artist Kimbra combined with the sounds of contemporary jazz composer Esperanza Spalding. While her music bears a clear debt to soul and R&B, her influences range from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke to Ghanian-American experimental pop composer Moses Sumney, both of which fall under the alternative umbrella.
As the singer readied to release her single — the precursor to a full-length album she also has in the works — she started thinking about how to approach performing in a post-COVID world.
“I really wanted to perform, but as I was looking for venues and getting feedback on the song, I thought ‘You know what? I know other people that want to perform as well.”
Small conversations with other San Antonio artists evolved into group chats. Eventually, the conversations evolved into Summer Slayout.
The fest’s all-local lineup will include DJ Zerktronic spinning dance-y house music all day, lo-fi indie artist Mr. Pidge, bilingual pop performer Alien Babe, neo-soul act Naalah and others. Satara will headline the bill comprised of eight musical artists.
The event will also be rounded out by 30 vendors including printmakers, painters, vegan food and an interactive photo wall.
“This is my first time taking an idea and trying to not only give people a great time but show these artists that they’re worth something,” Satara says. “[The pandemic has] been a questionable time for everybody. What better time than now to bring people together and give them a space to do what they’ve been wanting to do this whole time they’ve been practicing and creating? But not just that, ‘Here’s some money. Keep going.”
It’s not enough just to provide a gig, she adds. Artists must be paid for their work.
“You don’t get discouraged when you see green dollars coming into your hand,” she says. “At least I don’t. I feel like I’m getting the resources to get to the next step in my musical journey, and that’s what I want to do, not just for myself, but my community. That’s the most important thing for me.”
Beyond the Summer Slayout, Satara has a busy journey ahead as she readies her first full-length release.
“All the songs are done and I’m thinking by the end of summer I’ll be releasing it,” she says. “It’s titled after the last single I released, ‘Don’t Die’. I’m doing everything independently.”
She adds: “I haven’t had the Yellow Brick Road type of life. But it’s time for me. Instead of dreaming and regretting it, I need to do something about it. My mother is going through chemotherapy, and it’s not an easy thing to deal with an ill parent.
To that end, if there’s additional money after paying Summer Slayout’s performers, she plans to use the remaining funds to cover her mom’s last two chemo sessions.
With a new album on the way, a talented live band and a vocal degree from Austin’s Huston Tillotson University, Satara appears to have a bright musical future ahead — one where she’s intent on playing the long game.
“I’m enjoying getting more into the business side of my music now,” she says. “My entire life as a singer it’s been touch and go. When I’ve been in a consistent performance element, it’s been for the pleasure. It’s all been for that reaction, but now I want to switch over and sustain my life with my creativity.”
$10-$15, 4 p.m.-2 a.m., Friday, July 30, Aquaduck Beer Garden, 9214 Espada Road, (210) 600-3280, eventbrite.com.
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