Sound Advice: Sarah Jarosz (June 9)

Grammy-winning Folk/Americana artist plays the beautiful Memorial Hall

click to enlarge Sarah Jarosz - Photo: Scott Simontacchi
Photo: Scott Simontacchi
Sarah Jarosz

If there was ever a textbook example of a musical prodigy, Sarah Jarosz would certainly fit the bill. The native Texan — born in Austin, raised in Wimberley — learned to play the mandolin at 10 and quickly followed by picking up guitar, clawhammer banjo and octave mandolin. During Jarosz’s senior year in high school, she signed a contract with Sugar Hill Records, which put her in the studio with musical icons Darrell Scott, Jerry Douglas and Chris Thile for her 2009 debut album, Song Up in Her Head, which she co-produced. It went to No. 1 on Billboard’s Bluegrass chart. She was 16.

Three months after the release of her first album, Jarosz began her studies at the New England Conservatory of Music. At the close of her sophomore year, she fittingly released her sophomore album, 2011’s Follow Me Down, which featured covers of Radiohead and Bob Dylan songs and cracked the Top 5 of the Bluegrass and Folk charts, further packing her press kit with glowing reviews and awe-struck feature pieces.

Two years later, Jarosz completed her degree in Contemporary Improvisation at NECOM and graduated with honors; three months after that, she released her third album, the triumphant and distinctly more Folk/Pop-oriented Build Me Up from Bones, which placed her squarely in the Patty Griffin/Suzanne Vega/Mary Chapin Carpenter strata of confessional songwriters. At that point, Jarosz had already been nominated for three Americana Music Awards and a Grammy; Bones picked up three more nominations, two from the AMA, one from the Grammys.

It was last year’s Undercurrent that effectively blended her various musical worlds and proved to be her biggest breakthrough, giving Jarosz a No. 1 Bluegrass album while hitting high on the Folk and Rock charts as well. It also provided her with her first Grammy wins, for Folk Album and Best Roots Performance (for the album’s “House of Mercy”). Considering her accomplishments to date and the fact that Jarosz turned just 24 two weeks ago, her future may be far brighter than the UV protection offered by drugstore shades can handle.

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