Sarah Dukes at work

By Michele Justic

Acclaimed composer Sarah Dukes released her new single, “Yesterday Again” on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This marks the first time Dukes composed lyrics to accompany her piano composition. Thanks in part to the haunting voice of Clay Agnew, this song stops you in your tracks — it cannot ever be background music.

Inspired by the impact of loss on Dukes’ sister in law’s father, along with the sudden tragic loss of beloved Five Towns community member Hindy Krinsky-Kanarfogel, and many other losses to the community, the song reflects on the common wish to turn back time and blissfully reunite with loved ones.

Dukes remarks that the song “just came out, lyrics and music—straight from my essence.” The raw emotion drew in the support of fellow musicians How does it have such a powerful effect? Dukes explains “It comes straight from the heart. And what comes from the heart, enters the heart.”

Prior to this, Dukes classical piano compositions featured on her albums “Finding Forever,” “Life Sometimes,” “Raining Rockets,” and “One: Orchestrated Version,” utilized more complex arrangements of notes to achieve a certain sound. As Dukes insists, “If I had a choice, I want my songs to be uplifting. I don’t want to make people cry. That’s not my goal. But this song was sent to me. I feel like I was a conduit. Music has the power to evoke strong emotions and can therefore be extremely healing. When we experience a loss, our emotions can be so intense and overwhelming, and we often numb ourselves because it’s too painful. But it’s not always good to numb ourselves. When we cry, it stir our emotions and makes us feel vulnerable and allows us to truly feel. Through this we can once again feel true connection, attachment, and love to and from others.” As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with her own practice in Cedarhurst, Dukes can speak with authority on the subject of emotions.

Dukes compares listening to the song as an “emotional journey.” Though it is a tearjerker, it is not depressing. As she states, “it acknowledges the pain someone goes through. That alone can be healing and therapeutic.”

From a six year old girl studying piano in North Carolina, to having her works featured everywhere from the Jewish Educational Media to EgyptAir, Sarah Dukes has had quite a journey herself. Currently a proud mother of six in Cedarhurst, it is hard to match the beautiful young woman with a down to earth personality as the composer who has had an album ranked #17 on Zone Music Reporter’s “Top 100 Radio Airplay” chart, was on the first round ballot for the 59th GRAMMY® Awards, and has been selected as a finalist in The John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the World category of 2016.

Though music comes naturally to Dukes, it also take a lot of work. She is currently working on a new orchestrated single, “Triumph” with producer Mendy Hershkowitz. She describes working with Hershkowitz, “Orchestrating a piece of music not only takes a lot of time, but also takes an extreme amount of sensitivity towards the various instruments, their specific sounds, as well as the specific emotional role they contribute to the piece in general. It can literally take Mendy and I 20 minutes just to perfect 1-2 seconds of the music. Is that extreme? Maybe. But when I release a piece of music, I am sharing a part of my inner world, and it is important for me to make sure I connect to not only each and every note, but to spaces in between.”

Yesterday Again” is available on YouTube.

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