Sarah Jarosz has as rich a skill set as anybody in acoustic music. She plays, not just one instrument, but enough of them to be a one-woman string band: mandolin, octave mandolin, clawhammer banjo and guitar. She sings – in supple tones that transcend the boundaries between folk and pop – and she writes – old-timey ballads and modern singer-songwriter ruminations alike. Raised just outside of Austin in Wimberley, Tex., Jarosz blossomed within the local music scene and well beyond it, earning admirers from Austin City Limits’ Terry Lickona to acoustic music mavens Tim O’Brien and Chris Thile with her mature sensibilities. She released her debut, Song Up In Her Head, on Sugar Hill Records the year she graduated high school. What followed was a move to Boston’s prestigious New England Conservatory, a GRAMMY nomination and performances on “Austin City Limits” and “A Prairie Home Companion” as well as prestigious music festivals – Bonnaroo, Telluride and Newport, to name a few.
In May of 2011, Follow Me Down came out, a sophomore album that coincided with the end of her sophomore year of college. It channeled her ever-broadening musical horizons, and again showcased her songwriting, offering two tasty covers and including a number of top-notch guests from Punch Brothers to Shawn Colvin. The album met with critical acclaim - the New York Times called Jarosz “one of acoustic music’s most promising young talents”, and MSN Music named her “one of the fastest-rising stars in the roots music scene”.
What followed was a whirlwind tour packed into summer break. Since neither Sarah nor her musicians, Nathaniel Smith (cello) and Alex Hargreaves (violin) were old enough to rent a car, it became the tour of planes, trains and automobiles driven by whoever could be pressed into service. Despite this, Sarah managed to cover a large portion of the United States, make several forays into Canada and two trips to Europe. One of the highlights of her year included participation in the Transatlantic Sessions – a folk collaboration of top musicians from the United States, Ireland, and the UK. This fall, she returned to NEC for her junior year, which will be punctuated by more touring slipped into holiday breaks.
Despite her age, Sarah Jarosz maintains a highly developed sense of what she’s about. “What’s most important,” she emphasizes, “is just trying to stay true to myself as an artist and be as original as I can.” Whether it’s continuing her studies at NEC or soaking up inspiration from collaborations with musicians across the globe she’s doing just that.