Women’s History Month Spotlight: 5 Women of Roots Music Who Influenced Sarah Jarosz

Sarah Jarosz was born in Wimberley, Texas in 1991. She started singing and plucking at the mandolin when she was just 9 years old and released her debut album, Song Up in Her Head, when she was 18. With the release of her fourth studio album, Undercurrent, in 2016, she added “Grammy Award-winning musician” to her bio.  (Undercurrent won two Grammys — “Best Folk Album” and “Best American Roots Performance.”) Additional albums and even more awards followed.

Earlier this year, Jarosz released her new album, Polaroid Lovers, and offered even more proof that she’s a voice — and a musician — to be reckoned with. From Henry Carrigan’s review for Folk Alley: “Jarosz captures little portraits of life and love. Like a good photographer, she knows how to capture the shadows and light of a scene, bringing sometimes-hidden features into relief and focusing on life at the edges and at the center.” (Read Henry’s full review HERE.)

In honor of Women’s History Month, we asked Jarosz, one of the superstars in the folk, roots, and Americana music scenes, who inspired and influenced her as she was developing her own unique musical voice. Her thoughtful responses are below!


by Sarah Jarosz

Abigail Washburn – “Abby was one of my earliest banjo influences and mentored me when I was in my early teens just learning to play clawhammer banjo. I’ve always loved how she combines modern lyrics with traditional melodies.”

Gillian Welch – “Gillian is simply one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Her albums were so influential to me and really made me want to try my hand at writing songs. She changed the game.”

Nanci Griffith – “Growing up in Central Texas, it always seemed like Nanci was just in the ether. I have fond memories of car rides with my parents blasting Nanci’s albums. Her voice and her songs are timeless.”

Shawn Colvin – “Shawn’s songs influenced me so much and made me realize that simple folk songs can become something much more sonically expansive. I’ve adored her albums from the time I was a young girl.”

Ola Belle Reed – “So many of my favorite artists in the folk world have covered Ola Belle’s songs that it’s only fitting to give her the credit she so greatly deserves.”

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