If getting a driver’s license is considered a toe dip in the shallow end, scoring a record deal at 16 is a cannonball off the high dive. Prolific songwriter and newgrass prodigy Sarah Jarosz didn’t actually get her driver’s license until she was 18, which can happen while you are busy skyrocketing to fame.
Now a Grammy nominated artist, Sarah Jarosz returns to her roots with a performance at the Community First Natural Life Music Festival this Sunday at Metropolitan Park. Presented by Flying Saucer Productions, the event will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with proceeds to benefit the Children’s Home Society of Florida. Admission is free. For the full schedule, visit www.naturallife.com.
“That the great thing about the acoustic music community. It’s an honor to play with them, to jam with them and to learn from them,” Jarosz says. “I grew up at music festivals. I love to be outside and listen to great music.”
Jarosz is a not only a talented songwriter but a gifted multi-instrumentalist who mastered the mandolin by age 10. She went on to play the clawhammer banjo and guitar as an extension of her love for music which she says was fostered in part by her parents and the local music festivals she attended growing up in Wimberley, TX. “Initially, I was inspired by artists like Nickel Creek and Tim O’Brien was a huge influence on me. Gillian Welch is an artist that I looked up to and someone who I really modeled myself after,” says Jarosz. “I’m lucky that my parents loved music. I really fell in love with it, too.”
Lightning struck twice at Coloroado’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival when a 16-year-old Jarosz was given her own debut set. It was a game changer for Jarosz to be able to share a bill with many of her own musical heroes while also establishing her own name as a player. In the crowd that day was also the man with the golden ticket. Gary Paczosa, an A&R rep for Sugar Hill Records, was struck by the uncommon artistry of the young performer and quickly signed her to the label.
“None of it felt forced. It all happened really naturally and everything just fell into place,” Jarosz says.“I am lucky to consider some of my early heroes among my friends.”
During her senior year of high school, Jarosz cut her debut album, Song Up in Her Head, the release of which was book-ended by graduation and her first college semester at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Her sophomore project, Follow Me Down, was released in 2011, earning critical acclaim and comparisons to the lineage of great female bluegrass artists.
In 2013, Jarosz not only received her Bachelor of Music degree in Contemporary Improvisation but also released her third album, Build Me Up from Bones, which earned double nominations for Best Folk Album and Best American Roots Song for the title track at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards.
“I was absolutely, positively influenced by my time there. In a way, this is the first time I was able to infiltrate my journey into some of these songs. They reflect more of the experience of it all. It was a lot to balance but the great thing about music is that it’s a never ending growing process. I am so lucky to be so young and to have had such a remarkable experience so far. I am excited to have the freedom to focus on my music full time and see where this journey takes me.”