I first saw young country bluegrass singer Sarah Jarosz perform at the Old Settlers Music Festival in Driftwood, outside of Austin. She couldn’t have been more than about 12 or so, but she was already a whiz on the banjo and mandolin and had a gorgeous voice. I knew she was going to wind up huge and sure enough, she’s already been nominated for a Grammy and she’s only 18. I was blown away by her first album, Song Up In Her Head. Especially her cover of the Decemberists’ “Shankill Butchers.” Very impressive. I predict her upward trajectory will continue. Who knows how high she will go?
My only question is, why isn’t she even bigger right now? Why do I constantly have to hear about Taylor Swift, a nice enough girl, but far, far less talented?
There’s no use posting the video of Taylor Swift singing that embarrassing off key duet with Stevie Nicks at the Grammys because folks from the Grammys and Swift’s record company keep sending take-down notices to YouTube. It pops up again for a while and promptly gets removed again. You can probably find it yourself if you care to look, but trust me it’s awful. I don’t know why Stevie put up with it. I didn’t watch it live myself – I have better things to do. But it points out a painfully obvious problem with the music industry. Swift, who apparently cannot sing on key and has to be using auto-tune in the studio, somehow got four Grammy awards. Sure, she’s young and cute, but there are a million cute young things out there.
Why did the supremely talented Sarah Jarosz, also young and cute, come home with no Grammys? She was nominated for her song, “Mansinneedof,” which is still an honor – but it was an instrumental. Why did a girl who knows how to sing get beat out by someone who obviously can’t? I almost wonder if the industry favors people who have less talent, because they are easier to control. They want music to be a commodity that they can sell like rice or flour. They don’t want artists out there listening to muses and creating. That’s way too unpredictable. Or maybe it’s simply the fact that she’s on Sugar Hill Records, which is an independent label.
Play this and tell me I’m wrong: