Hungary-born Belsize Park musician who moved to the UK aged five is studying at prestigious US music college and preparing to release her debut album

IT seems Sara Barta has some focus. Having barely turned 20, the Belsize Park musician has overcome bulimia, learned to speak English, taught herself guitar, become a songwriter, won a coveted place at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and is nearly ready to release her debut album.

Sara, who moved to the UK from Hungary with her family aged just five, didn’t know any English when she first started at Christ Church Primary School.

“I remember being so shy and not being able to say a word,” she said.

“Me and my brother were thrown straight into school and we didn’t know what was going on. I met two of my best friends there, they taught me how to speak English. They sat with me every break and lunchtime.”

At around the same time Sara started playing piano and singing, encouraged by her parents who could see that their daughter had some talent. As she got older, Sara began to teach herself to play guitar and write songs.

She said: “I was going through a really rough time at school. I wasn’t really too interested in anything like science or maths and that was hard. I started doing what most girls do: bulimia, self-harm.

“One day I was like, ‘I can’t carry on doing this’. I ended up in hospital.”

Sara learned to cope through her songwriting.

She said: “I remember one day listening to a song by a girl on Facebook that went viral. It was a really sad song, about her dad killing himself or something. I just remember thinking, if she can get through that and write a song about it, why can’t I? This makes me feel good. I thought, what if I wrote a song like this with all my thoughts and feelings? So I did and it made me feel good. It was a song about my bulimia – my first ever song. I don’t think it had a name.”

Sara played it for her parents. She said: “My parents were really pleased. I remember my mum being so happy and asking, ‘can you play it for me?’ I remember her crying. I asked why and she said, ‘that’s the most emotional song, I don’t remember anyone that young singing about something so deeply’.