Speaking With Joy Williams, Sarah Jarosz Recalls First Song And Reveals What She’s Looking Forward To In Her 30s

Photo by Scott Simontacchi

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

In 2010 when Sarah Jarosz was still a senior in high school, she signed a record deal and released a precocious debut album featuring iconic bluegrass players like Chris Thile, Stuart Duncan, Jerry Douglas and more. Almost overnight, the Austin, Texas-born virtuoso was on the road to becoming an Americana sensation.

Now, 11 years later, Jarosz is still going strong, getting closer and closer towards the same “iconic” badge that some of her collaborators wear. On May 7 via Rounder Records, she released her sixth studio album, Blue Heron Suite, which explores her upbringing and Texas roots. On June 6, she’ll be the guest on a new episode of Southern Craft Radio with Joy Williams on Apple Music Country, where the two discussed Jarosz’s new record, her early days of being a songwriter, her goal for her 30s and more.

“It’s interesting—Blue Heron Suite was written before World on the Ground was written or even was a thought in my mind at all,” Jarosz told Williams. “It’s funny because I did so many interviews this past year for World on the Ground because it had just come out. A lot of what I was saying was, ‘Oh, this is the first time I’ve written about where I’m from. This is the first time I’ve written about Texas and my home and all of the feelings associated with that.’ But really, Blue Heron Suite was the first time doing that. In many ways, even though they’re coming out in opposite order of how they were written, Blue Heron Suite was the thing that set me off on my path, on realizing I had lived enough years away from home to be able to write about it, I guess. Some people are amazing and able to write about something as it’s happening, but I’ve always needed the time to step away and process.”

For Jarosz, songwriting has always been a vehicle to process her life and memories. As she told Williams, even when she first started writing songs, it came from a place of taking the world around her and channeling it into music. Except, starting so young, her early reflections weren’t quite as heavy as the ones she grapples with now…

“My first memory of writing was an instrumental, because I hadn’t really written any music until I got the mandolin when I was, like, nine, almost 10,” she said. “And I remember my dog, my childhood dog’s name was Marley. I wrote an instrumental called ‘Marley’s Blue Chair’ because we had this big blue chair in our house and she would always just snuggle up on it. That was the first piece of music that I wrote.”

And even now, two decades after she penned “Marley’s Blue Chair” (which, maybe we’ll see a bust-out of that some day), she still uses songwriting as an invaluable outlet. But one thing that is changing as she gets older is that she’s not quite as protective of that outlet as she used to be—rather, she’s looking forward to sharing her talents with even more musicians, collaborators and friends. 

“Something I’m really excited for in the next decade is more collaborations with people,” she said to Williams. “I’ve been thinking about this a lot—one aspect about having started so young is that I was very territorial of my music and my songs, especially as a teen and in my early 20. I was trying to find who I was through my songs. And now that I feel like I kind of know who that is, I feel less territorial and more open to just joining the band with Aoife O’Donovan and Sara Watkins and having that collaboration, which has totally enriched my whole world musically. I think that would also be a hope for the next decade: just making more music with others and being open to that.”


The episode of Southern Craft Radio With Joy Williams featuring Sarah Jarosz is set to drop on June 6. You can listen to other episodes of the show HERE and watch the lyric video for Jarosz’s song “Morning” below:

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