Sharon Van Etten
Sharon Van Etten came along as a fresh new voice in the indie-folk genre who developed a strong following the old-fashioned way, through regularly releasing great albums and constantly touring. Van Etten was born on February 26, 1981 in Clinton, New Jersey, as the middle of five kids, with an older brother, a younger brother, and two sisters. The family had a big LP collection that Sharon would plunder and enjoy, and she also sang in choir, and played clarinet, violin and piano. Van Etten started taking singing more seriously in high school. She taught herself how to play guitar, and learned how to craft harmonies by singing in her school choir. Van Etten went to college at Middle Tennessee State University, studied recording, and dropped out, going to work at the Red Rose, a combination coffee shop, record store, and music venue in Nashville. She didn't perform for five years because her boyfriend didn't think she had any talent, but she finally left him and went back home to New Jersey. Finally settling in Brooklyn, Van Etten sold hand-designed CDs on her website, and learned the ropes of the music business working as a publicist at the indie label Ba Da Bing Records. Van Etten's music was discovered by Kyp Malone from the art rock band TV on the Radio, and his brother Colin started playing it on NPR's music podcast All Songs Considered. Her music also got a lot of play on freeform radio powerhouse WFMU by Jeffrey Davison, a DJ who later became a close friend and collaborator. Van Etten's first album, Because I Was in Love, came out on May 26, 2009. Her second album, the ironically titled Epic came out in 2010. Both albums were critically well-received but sold little. By contrast, her third album Tramp (2012), went to number 75 on the Billboard charts. The follow up, Are We There (2014) garnered the best reviews and strongest sales of her career to date, including a four-star review in Rolling Stone and a high 8.2 rating from the influential online review site Pitchfork.