Dartmouth Sophomore Sings With Country Duo Sugarland


Country music fans recently learned what Dartmouth already knows: Sarah Peck ’14 can sing.


On June 16, Sarah Peck ’14 (center) performed with the country music duo Sugarland. Peck was the winner of the “Sing With Sugarland” contest. (photo courtesy of Sarah Peck ’14)

Peck, the 2011 Dartmouth Idol champion, won the opportunity to perform with the band Sugarland at their June 16 concert at the Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion in Gilford, N.H.

The contest, “Sing With Sugarland,” was posted on the band’s website. Entrants were required to submit a video of themselves singing the group’s hit song “Baby Girl.” Sugarland picked Peck as a winner to perform the song with them in concert.

“Singing with Sugarland was unlike any performing I’ve ever done,” says Peck. Although she was familiar with the group’s music: ironically, Peck had sung a Sugarland song in the finals of the Dartmouth Idol competition.

Saturday’s sold-out concert in Gilford was truly a Dartmouth affair, as Dartmouth employee Ed Leavitt and his group, the Shana Stack Band, a country group based in central New Hampshire, opened for Sugarland.

Peck said that band members Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush “were two of the most energetic and entertaining performers I’ve ever watched. There is a lot to be learned by simply watching the way they carry themselves.”


Sarah Peck ’14, a romance languages major with a primary focus in French, was the 2011 Dartmouth Idol champion. (photo courtesy of the Hopkins Center)

Peck, who is from Old Lyme, Conn., has come a long way since she began singing in her middle school’s chorus program. But until recently, she hadn’t sung much for audiences.

“Singing was a talent I discovered by myself in the kitchen when no one else was home,” she says, “and something I kept to myself for a long time.”

Peck gained more confidence in high school, where she began singing in front of small gatherings at benefit performances, and through roles in school musicals. At Dartmouth, Peck found an outlet for her musical through the student a cappella group, The Dartmouth Dodecaphonics.

Peck also found on-campus guidance for the music business thanks to Leavitt, who is an executive assistant to the associate dean and assistant dean in the Office of Campus Life. He is also a songwriter, lead vocalist, and rhythm guitar player for the Shana Stack Band. Peck reached out to Leavitt after reading an article in The Dartmouth about Leavitt’s band and his songwriting. After hearing Peck sing, Leavitt said it was apparent that she was a natural talent. The two met and discussed ways for Peck to get her singing noticed.


Sarah Peck ’14 (right) performing with the Dartmouth Dodecaphonics at the 2012 Spring Sing concert at the Hopkins Center. (photo courtesy of Sarah Peck ’14)

“Sarah needs no mentoring,” Leavitt says. “She is smart, savvy, and very talented.”

Peck, a romance languages major with a primary focus in French, is also a member of the varsity sailing team. She’s passionate about singing but also has other interests she wants to cultivate, and hasn’t yet decided whether to pursue music professionally.

“For now, I’m just happy to keep singing and include music in my everyday life,” she says.

Leavitt says Peck has the qualities needed to be a professional singer, if she decides to pursue a musical career. “She’s a person who goes after what she wants, and that kind of attitude will serve her very well in this business,” Leavitt says. “I’m certain she is someone we will be talking about 10 years from now.”

Watch Peck’s video submission for the Sugarland competition below:

Watch Peck’s interview with Assistant Vice President for Media Relations Justin Anderson shortly after she won the 2011 Dartmouth Idol:

Keith Chapman