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Entertainment News

Sunday, 18 October, 2009 11:15 AM

CMA New Artist Spotlight: 'Sarah Jarosz'

Photo by Scott Simontacchi

Sarah Jarosz

By Bob Doerschuk
© 2009 CMA Close Up News Service

Music found its way early to 18-year-old Sarah Jarosz, beginning with solfège and ear training in kindergarten and culminating with her participation for seven consecutive years in the Organization of American Kodaly Educators National Honor Choir.

But her true muse came in the form of a mandolin, given by her parents one Christmas when she was almost 10 and living in Wimberley, Texas. Her proximity to Austin may have been the final ingredient in leading her toward American roots music.

Jarosz’s road wound through the bluegrass festival circuit to Sugar Hill Records, which released her debut album. Produced by Jarosz and Gary Paczosa, filled with 11 of her solo-penned songs and two covers,Song Up In Her Head reflects varied influences, from Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell to Mike Marshall, Chris Thile and other acoustic innovators.

But her handiwork transcends their contributions, in her emphasis on tasteful, melodic picking and vocals that are understated yet emotionally compelling. As a singer, arranger and storyteller, Jarosz shows distinction in her cover of the Decemberists’ “Shankill Butchers.” Add to that her multi-instrumental technique, narrative lyric skills and compositional artistry, and it’s clear that her journey is just beginning.

IN HER OWN WORDS

CD IN YOUR STEREO
“Graceland, by Paul Simon.”

GREATEST CHALLENGES
“My greatest short-term challenge is to finish high school, begin college and balance that with my music career. My long-term challenge will be to not get lost in the music business and to stay true to who I am.”

GREATEST PERFORMANCE TO DATE
“The Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 2007. When Planet Bluegrass producer Craig Ferguson invited me to have my own set on that magical stage, it was a dream come true. I performed with Mike Marshall and Ben Sollee. I had watched countless performances of my heroes on that stage for several years. Gary Paczosa heard my set at Telluride and that's where we met for the first time. Shortly after that performance, I was offered a record contract with Sugar Hill Records.”

HOMETOWN
“I was born in Austin, Texas and raised just outside the Austin city limits in Wimberley.”

INFLUENCES
“I listen to and have been influenced by countless musicians and artists of many genres of music. Some of my influences include Tim O'Brien, Mike Marshall, Chris Thile, Gillian Welch, Abigail Washburn, Aoife O'Donovan, Darrell Scott, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Shawn Colvin and The Decemberists.”

LEGACY

“I hope people are still listening to and enjoying the music I created in my life. I hope people will say that I was always original and true to my music. I hope people will have respect for me both as a musician and a person.”

MUSICAL BACKGROUND
“I first started my musical development in kindergarten by learning music theory based on the Kodaly method of solfege and ear training. I studied with my music teacher, Diana Riepe, through the eighth grade, and that program had a profound impact on me musically. I auditioned and was selected for seven consecutive years for the Organization of American Kodaly Educators National Honor Choir. That opportunity gave me the unique experience to travel around the country, meet other musicians and perform at some of the best concert halls in the country. When I was almost 10 years old, my parents bought me a mandolin for Christmas, and I found out about a weekly Friday night bluegrass jam in my hometown of Wimberley, Texas. The first time I attended the jam, I fell in love with the music and I begged my parents to take me back every week. Everyone I met at that jam was so encouraging and supportive of my new found love of acoustic and bluegrass music. From there, my parents realized how much I really loved making music, so they made it possible for me to travel to music festivals and camps around the country. All of these experiences in my life have built on each other. Making friends and developing relationships through music has been a huge part of my life.”

SONG YOU WISH YOU’D WRITTEN
“‘Everything Is Free,’ by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch.”

On the Web: www.SarahJarosz.com

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