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Meet Singer-Songwriter Sarah Jarosz

This year, Sarah Jarosz reached several major milestones: She turned 18; graduated from high school; and released her first CD. Song Up In Her Head was reviewed favorably by Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and others.

Sarah Jarosz began playing mandolin when she was 10 years old. Still a marvel at that instrument, she's branched out to other instruments and added singing, songwriting and record producing to her resume.

Sarah wrote 11 of the 13 tunes on Song Up In Her Head, including the title track. While some young artists are pushed into the studio, with record labels rushing to get product out to the public quickly, Sarah made a point of taking her time on her first release. For years fans had been asking her to put out a CD, but Sarah opted to wait until she felt ready.

Jarosz: "I knew that I wanted my first record to be a really good representation of my original music. And I feel that because I was patient, I am really proud of the final product."

Cole: "Do you think that some of the songs took people by surprise? They might be thinking of you still mainly as an instrumentalist, not a writer?"

Jarosz: "I think so. And I think that's another reason why I decided to wait until I was 18 to release a record. Because growing up as a young musician, I had so many people tell me 'you need to make a CD.' But I was always really patient. I think I was patient in the sense I wanted to build more of a repertoire of original music. When going into the recording process, I knew that I wanted the majority of the songs to be my originals."

Cole: "And what was the recording process like? Is this something that you spent a lot of time working on?"

Jarosz: "The interesting thing about it is that I did it during my senior year in high school. It basically took almost a whole year. Taking trips to Nashville, and then New York City. Gary Pacoza, who I co-produced the CD with, came down to Texas a few times, just kind of weaving it in to my high school schedule. Gary said he'd never done that with anyone before."

Sarah sings only two songs by other writers on Song Up In Her Head. One is by Tom Waits. The other cover is The Decemberists' "Shankill Butchers."

Sarah Jarosz spent the U.S. summer playing her songs at music festivals around the country. But playtime is over for a while. She will now leave her home in Texas, take up residence in Boston, Massachusetts, and begin classes at the famed New England Conservatory. That doesn't mean her touring days are over, however.

Jarosz: "It'll be a busy schedule, for sure. But I plan on taking some of the skills I learned in high school as far as balancing the two, the music and the school, and transferring that over to the college level. I know it will be a challenge, and it will be busy, but I'm really excited to star this next chapter."

Cole: "And I'm sure everyone is saying to you, 'We love your CD. When is the next one coming out?'"

Jarosz: " Yes! Well, it's funny. I've already started writing a lot of the songs for the next one. I don't know when it will come out, but I'm definitely thinking about it!"

In case you still need convincing of how fine a musician Sarah Jarosz is, a look at the people playing with her on Song Up In Her Head should erase the doubt. Among them: Jerry Douglas; Mike Marshall; Darrell Scott; and Chris Thile, who sings and plays on the CD's final track, "Little Song."