Singer-songwriter Sara Hickman took the stage Saturday during Safari Nights at the Dallas Zoo. Advocate photographer Brandy Barham was there to capture the scenes. She writes:

The best part about Safari Nights is that not only are people able to enjoy an evening concert outside at the zoo when temperatures have cooled a bit, but also that some parts of the zoo exhibits are also still open. My husband, Ray, and I got there a little early so we had a few hours to kill before the concert began.

We decided to head over to the Wilds of Africa portion of the zoo to watch the lion keeper presentation. Although the lion was not performing, Kilima, the cheetah, did make an appearance. Kilima’s trainers kept her engaged in performing for the crowd while the presenter told us about her and several other facts about cheetahs.

Once the presentation ended, we realized we still had some time before the concert began so we headed over to the SOAR Bird Show. Presenters John and Amy delighted us all with tricks executed by Lloyd the Hadada Ibis; Stewie the African Pied Crow; and Mortimer and Turnip, penguins from the Southern tip of Africa.

Afraid I would miss the beginning of the concert, I left Ray with the birds and high tailed it to the pavilion area on the Cat Green. I noticed Sara’s drummer, Gray Parsons, practicing behind the stage and decided to chat him up a bit. While we were talking, Sara approached us, offered a friendly “Hi!” and gave me a big hug. She never stopped smiling. She greeted a couple of fans backstage as well and took a few song requests before ascending the stage with Gray and the rest of her band.

To say that Sara’s open and friendly demeanor translated to the stage would be an understatement. She owned that stage. Intent on sharing that euphoria, she never missed a moment to involve the crowd in singing or performing with her. She even called on a “fearless dad” to come up and help her and encouraged the crowd to sing parts of her songs along with her.

I left the zoo that night feeling great, wishing I had come to more of these since Sara’s concert marked the eighth and final installment of the Safari Nights series at the Dallas Zoo.