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5 Questions with Sarah Jarosz

by on March 29, 2017 9:56 AM

Maybe it’s fitting that Undercurrent, the fourth album from singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz, represents sort of a graduation for her into stardom. Jarosz wrote many of the songs for the album as she was transitioning from graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music to moving to New York City.

Two months ago, Jarosz took home two Grammy Awards — Best Folk Album and Best American Roots Performance, which she earned for her single “House of Mercy.”

Jarosz visits State College this month and will perform April 19 at the State Theatre. She took time to talk about her Grammy wins and life on the road.

T&G: What did it mean to win two Grammy Awards earlier this year?

Jarosz: I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a lifelong goal and dream of mine to win a Grammy. When I was a little girl, I’d watch the Grammys on TV and think maybe someday that would be me. My parents were great and not being super cheesy about it when they told me, “If you picture yourself up there, you can do it!” So to have this lifelong dream and for it to happen now at 25, it’s pretty surreal and amazing.

T&G: Did you expect the response to Undercurrent that you’ve received and becoming vulnerable since you put a lot of yourself into the album?

Jarosz: When I was recording it, I was just trying to have me come through more than ever before, for it to be super honest. … I wanted to stay true to that and for it to be simple and honest. … If you’re not writing and creating stuff that’s true to yourself, it’s difficult to perform in a genuine way. My favorite songs to perform are the ones I feel the most vulnerable because I really feel them when I sing them, and I think the audience notices that genuineness.

T&G: I’m guessing there was always music playing in your home when you were growing up.

Jarosz: There was always music playing around the house! I never knew life without music. It was great as kid, but it was never forced on me. My parents, I’m always appreciative of them. They managed and nurtured my love of music without being those “stage parents.” They showed an interest in helping make my interests a reality. … I enjoyed listening to Nanci Griffith, Shawn Colvin, The Beatles, Wilco, Nickel Creek.

T&G: Do you enjoy touring?

Jarosz: The older you get, there are pros and also cons, like being away from home so much. I’m very fortunate that I get to tour with musicians who I adore and getting to play music that is inspiring and challenging. I enjoy putting myself in situations like that.

T&G: Do you have any habits when you go on the road for a tour?

Jarosz: It’s a challenge to find ways to keep a normal schedule. You wake up in a different place every day. It can be a little disorienting. I like to maybe go for a run or visit a local coffee shop. It’s a way to keep me sane!

Sarah Jarosz performs April 19 at the State Theatre. For tickets and more information, visit

David Pencek is editor of Town&Gown magazine, Town&Gown's Penn State Football Annual, and Town&Gown's Penn State Winter Sports Annual.
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