Sarah Siskind’s music is not easily explained or contained. She’s a singer and songwriter based in Virginia and grounded in Appalachian roots, but one who transcends category with a beguiling fusion of the traditional and the modern. Whether solo, fronting an electric band or in her harmony-laden trio The Novel Tellers, Sarah creates emotionally charged soundscapes that consistently delight and surprise even her long-time fans.
Alison Krauss has championed Sarah and values her songs so highly that she’s recorded two of them, both of which became singles and videos that received widespread airplay. Boston folk icon Jennifer Kimball once dubbed her the perfect hybrid of Joni Mitchell and Gillian Welch. Steve Binder, the legendary LA based TV/Film Producer who has worked with Elvis Presley, Dianna Ross and Liza Minnelli calls Sarah “the best female singer-songwriter in America today.”
Sarah grew up in a music-filled household in North Carolina, surrounded by not only the bluegrass and old-time her parents played at countless jam sessions, but a wide slice of the best that’s been composed and recorded across all genres, including Celtic, gospel and jazz. Her love of and affinity for music was obvious, and by four years old she was singing and playing piano. She wrote songs starting at eleven, and when she was 14, she completed her first album. Over the next few years she won numerous songwriting competitions and appeared on stage with luminaries like Doc Watson and Maya Angelou.
By the time she moved to Nashville at age 21, she’d released her third recording and astonished those around her with the boldness of her songwriting voice and became a respected and acknowledged master of her craft in the crowded scene.
In 2002, Sarah released the full length album “Covered”. Despite its title, it featured mostly original songs that dealt with love, family and relationships. It included contributions from special guest Jennifer Kimball, whose 1990s vocal duo The Story with Jonatha Brooke had been an important influence on Sarah and who supported Sarah’s development with performance opportunities and generous praise. Sarah’s inspired choice to invite Bill Frisell, a modern-day giant of jazz guitar, to anchor the studio band gave “Covered” a shimmering, unforgettable sound, while Sarah’s striking lyrics and melodic ideas made the songs both hummable and sophisticated. Bon Iver’s frontman Justin Vernon plans to re-release this under-discovered album on his record label Chigliak in late 2012/early 2013.
Sarah battled sinus ailments that threatened to derail her career during her 20s, braving several surgeries in the process. Despite the setbacks, she continues to achieve new landmarks in what are still the early stages of her career. She made a keepsake double EP featuring intimate performances from her home aptly titled "Studio. Living Room" then collaborated on the first album by Old Black Kettle, a vocally thrilling, genre-bending band with friends and fellow artists Julie Lee and Jodi Haynes Seyfried. Her song “Simple Love” became the signature single from Alison Krauss’s “A Hundred Miles or More” compilation album of 2007. The recording earned a Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Performance. In 2006, Sarah signed with prestigious Nashville publisher Big Yellow Dog Music, home to such extraordinary writers as Mindy Smith and Shawn Camp. There she spent five years exploring the intricacies of co-writing, and also recorded her highly acclaimed full-length album “Say it Louder”, which Bonnie Raitt called “a masterpiece” and made numerous feature spots on NPR.
The self-produced, performed and engineered album “Novel” followed in 2011, which was mostly written and recorded during a summer in the mountains of Colorado. “Novel” may be Siskind’s most intimate full length album to date, exploring all aspects of human relationships as well as solitude, and and ode to Mahalia Jackson on her foot-stomping rendition of “Didn’t it Rain.”
Sarah’s extraordinarily unique voice and songwriting caught the ear of Bonnie Raitt and among inviting Sarah on stage to sing “Angel From Montgomery” with her in June 2012, Raitt has asked Siskind to support her on a string of fall tour dates in 2012.
Sarah will release an EP “In The Mountains” which includes songs written in and inspired by her new surroundings of Nelson County, Virginia where she moved in early 2012. All songs were recorded live with one microphone.
Along the road on tour, Sarah collects beads and charms and creates unique jewelry which she then includes at her merch table and online through Etsy, adding yet another creative dimension to her multi-faceted career.
Sarah Siskind would be writing and performing even if this attention wasn’t coming her way. Hers is a natural gift and an overflowing expression of someone with an alert ear and a full heart.