Music has always been a way of life for Sarah Siskind who NPR calls “an under-exposed treasure.” Born into a musical family in North Carolina, both parents were musicians and frequenting festivals, radio stations and recording studios was the norm. Always surrounded by music, Sarah started writing songs at 11 and by the time she was 14, released her first full-length album. Two more followed at 17 and 21, at which point she relocated to Nashville, Tennessee to further immerse herself in a musical community.
A veteran in the studio at age 22, Siskind set out to make “Covered” and enlisted producer Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket) to help her flesh out a special batch of songs she had written in her formative late teens and early twenties. One of her biggest musical heroes, guitar giant Bill Frisell, joined the project after Martine shared with him Siskind’s work tapes. Jennifer Kimball, who’s Boston folk duo The Story had greatly influenced Sarah also joined the already solid band of local players. Recorded to 2 inch analog tape over a couple of weeks, Siskind made an album that “exudes intelligent, emotional atmosphere and moody electricity” (The Tennessean). Performing Songwriter called it “utterly captivating.” But, amid plans for a national release, 9-11 struck and Siskind stepped away from promoting herself as an artist, taking time to reevaluate everything. Sinus illness followed, as well as multiple surgeries and “Covered” was independently released on a much smaller scale than originally planned.
Years later, once recovered, Siskind was eager to start a new project and went on to release the boutique double EP “Studio.Living Room”, followed by the widely-acclaimed national release “Say it Louder” which won Nashville’s “Americana Album of the Year” followed by tour dates with Swell Season, Paul Brady, Bon Iver and more.
As word continued to spread of Siskind’s unique artistry and songs, other singers across genres started covering them, most notably Alison Krauss, who earned a Grammy nomination for her performance of “Simple Love.”
Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) was also one of these people. Vernon discovered the album “Covered” through his admiration of guitarist
Bill Frisell, but quickly became a fan of Siskind’s music. He continued to follow her career and learned her heartbreaking ballad
“Lovin’s for Fools” which he began closing Bon Iver shows with. Vernon states “Sarah Siskind is one of very few songwriters that is a
true student of American music. Her lexicon is incredible and her voice... well, She's a teacher.”
Siskind continued to make albums and write songs in true individual form, listening strictly to her muse. “Novel” was released in 2011, featuring Sarah as the sole musician, producer and engineer, which highlighted Siskind’s pairing of lush electric guitar and soaring Appalachian vocal. At SXSW that year Time Magazine called Sarah “one of our favorite singers.” A tour with Bonnie Raitt followed in 2012 when Sarah also released the boutique EP called “In The Mountains” inspired by her move to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia taking her full circle, back to the region where she grew up.
Sarah on NPR's 'Here and Now'
"NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson brings us new music each week to listen to. This week, we’re reaching back into the archive, sort of.In 2003, Sarah Siskind released an album called “Covered.” But as a result of severe sinus problems that required surgery, Siskind wasn’t able to tour and the album never really got off the ground.