Sarah Shook

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Sarah Shook
Sarah Shook in 2018
Date of birth September 15, 1985
Nationality American
Pronouns they/them[1]
Gender identity nonbinary/genderqueer
Occupation musician

Sarah Marie Shook is an American country music singer-songwriter from North Carolina.[2][3] Their "high lonesome" style incorporates country-punk and twang, with shades of outlaw country.[4][5][6]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Shook was born in Rochester, New York. They were homeschooled and grew up in a fundamentalist Christian family where music was restricted.[7] They were permitted only to listen to classical and worship music.[8] When Shook was 9 years old they taught themself piano.[9] In high school they taught themself acoustic guitar.[10]

The family moved often when Shook was young. In July 2005, when Shook was 19 years old, their family moved to Garner, North Carolina.[2][10]

Career[edit | edit source]

In 2010, Shook started their first band, Sarah Shook and the Devil. The band was made up of Shook on vocals and guitar, Jon Baughman on bass, Phil Sullivan on lap steel, and Eric Peterson on guitar. The band released a seven-song EP, 2013's Seven[11][12] but disbanded later the same year.[10]

In 2013, Shook formed the band, Sarah Shook and the Dirty Hands, with Devil bandmate Eric Peterson. They played regionally, mostly in North Carolina.[12]

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers[edit | edit source]

Shook started a new band called Sarah Shook & the Disarmers in mid to late 2013. The band started as a recording project, with Eric Peterson on guitar, and John Howie Jr. (Two Dollar Pistols, John Howie Jr. & the Rosewood Bluff) on drums, Jason Hendrick on bass fiddle, and Phil Sullivan on lap steel.[13][14]

Sarah Shook and the Disarmers released their first record, Sidelong, in October 2015, with a re-release in 2017.[15] Sidelong was produced by Ian Schreier at Manifold Recording Studios, which is near the Haw River in North Carolina. The record was tracked and recorded live in April 2015.[16] The band found regional and national success with the record. They signed with Kathie Russell of RedKats Artist Management, which led to them signing with Chicago's Bloodshot Records in January 2017.[17][18]

Sidelong was named one of the 2015's top 50 Essential Albums by Saving Country Music.[19] The records was number 2 on Indy Week|Indy Week's top 25 best albums of 2015.[20] Sarah Shook and the Disarmers were listed as one of 10 New Country Artists to Know in July 2016.[17] Also in 2016, BuzzFeed Community listed Shook as one of five women country artists who are impacting music.[21] It received positive reviews.[22][23][24]

In April 2018, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers released their second record, which was called Years, on Bloodshot Records. Shook and the band worked on the songs while touring heavily.[25] Shook also focused on learning vocal techniques as a way to control and release their vocals, which led to what many reviews cite as a crisper vocal sound.[18] Music critic Greg Kot compares Shook's vocals to those of jazz vocals, noting that Shook and the band, who have toured together for years, are ferocious.[26] The song, "Good as Gold," was chosen as one of Rolling Stone's 10 best country and Americana songs of the week in March 2018.[27] Years has received positive reviews.[26][28][29][30]

The Disarmers is made up of Eric Peterson on guitar, Aaron Oliva on upright bass, Kevin McClain on drums, and Phil Sullivan on pedal steel.[31]

A documentary, What it Takes: film en douze tableaux, from director Gorman Bechard is scheduled to be released on DVD on November 9, 2018. It follows Shook as they write and record their album Years.[32][33][34] As the If It's Too Loud music blog says, "Film documentaries are typically put out by a record company as a way to cash in on an artist and are little more than fluff pieces, or they focus on drama within a band. What it Takes: film en douze tableaux doesn't do any of that. While Bechard is an obvious fan of his subject, he shows them as is, and doesn't try to show them glossed over or hyped up."[35]

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Shook has a son.[10]

Although Shook grew up in a deeply religious environment, they are an atheist.[36] Shook identifies as both bisexual and pansexual,[5] as well as nonbinary and genderqueer.[1][37][38] They are politically active in supporting LGBT and civil rights causes.[39] Along with fellow musician and activist Erika Libero (Henbrain),[40] they won the 2016 Indy Arts Award for their work with Chapel Hill-based Safe Space initiative, which was an effort to get local businesses to put up stickers that offered safe spaces for people needing it – and for their work putting on a 2-day music festival, Manifest, which includes bands that have at least one female or nonbinary member.[41][42]

Discography[edit | edit source]

  • 2013: Seven (self-released) – as Sarah Shook and the Devil[11]
  • 2017: Sidelong (2015 self-release) – re-released on Bloodshot Records in 2017[13]
  • 2018: Years (Bloodshot Records)

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Brothers, Eryn; Geist, Dale (September 26, 2020). "Bi/Pan Artists You Need to Know, Pt. 3: Sarah Shook". Country Queer. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kane, Meeghan (28 June 2016). "Sarah Shook on Hellholes, Homes, Writing Music, and Southern Women". Auntie Bellum Magazine.
  3. Cooper, Duncan (4 May 2017). "Meet Sarah Shook, Country Music's Radical And Ordinary Hero". The Fader.
  4. Ferguson, Maeri (1 May 2017). "Sarah Shook Gives No F***s". No Depression.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Cholst, Rachel (8 May 2017). "Deadly Accuracy With Sarah Shook and the Disarmers". No Depression.
  6. Christian, Trevor (8 May 2017). "Sarah Shook and the Disarmers' Give New LP 'Sidelong' Plenty of Pull & Punch (Interview)". Glide Magazine.
  7. Trigger (30 October 2015). "Album Review – "Sidelong" by Sarah Shook & The Disarmers". Saving Country Music.
  8. Stefano, Angela (6 April 2018). "Interview: Sarah Shook & the Disarmers Come Armed With Country Melodies, Biting Wit on 'Years'". The Boot.
  9. "Instant and Total Catharsis: A Q&A with Sarah Shook". American Songwriter. 17 April 2018.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Hill, Corbie (14 October 2015). "Sarah Shook is a single mother and a tough country singer with a reckless side. She is keeping both ends up". Indy Week.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Britt, Grant (10 December 2015). "Hard Core Shook Country". No Depression.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Cutler, Joey (31 May 2017). "Sarah Shook & the Disarmers hit the roadi".
  13. 13.0 13.1 Whitelock, Ed (26 April 2017). "Sarah Shook and the Disarmers: Sidelong". PopMatters.
  14. Salmon, Ben (5 April 2018). "Sarah Shook & the Disarmers: Years Review". Paste.
  15. Domenighini, Annalise (24 April 2017). "Sarah Shook and the Disarmers Are Drinking Mainstream Country Under the Table". Noisey. VICE Media.
  16. Jurgensen, John (30 April 2017). "Sarah Shook Tries Out the Boozy Ballad". The Wall Street Journal. Template:Closed access
  17. 17.0 17.1 Parton, Chris (1 July 2016). "10 New Country Artists You Need to Know: July 2016". Rolling Stone.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Domenighini, Annalise (4 April 2018). "Sarah Shook Has Words for the Rich-Ass Motherfuckers of Pop Country". Noisey. Vice Media.
  19. Trigger (14 December 2015). "Saving Country Music's 50 Essential Albums for 2015". Saving Country Music.
  20. Currin, Grayson Haver (23 December 2015). "Listen up: The Triangle's 25 best albums of 2015". Indy Week.
  21. KitRedd (11 April 2016). "5 Women Who Are Kicking Country Music's Ass". BuzzFeed Community.
  22. Zimmerman, Lee (24 April 2017). "Sarah Shook & The Disarmers: Sidelong Review". Paste.
  23. Loeb, Jeremy (28 April 2016). "Country Singer Sarah Shook Talks 'Sidelong' and HB2". WCQS. Western North Carolina Public Radio.
  24. Hodge, Eric (4 December 2015). "Sarah Shook Sings About Whiskey, Bad Luck, And Healing on 'Sidelong'". WUNC (FM).
  25. Freeman, Jon (6 April 2018). "Country Punk Sarah Shook Talks New LP 'Years,' Finding Strength in Humor". Rolling Stone.
  26. 26.0 26.1 DeRogatis, Jim; Kot, Greg (13 April 2018). "Show 646: The Legend of Captain Beefheart, Opinions on Kacey Musgraves & Sarah Shook" (Audio radio talk show and podcast). Sound Opinions.
  27. McKenna, Brittney (16 March 2018). "10 Best Country, Americana Songs of the Week: Brent Cobb, Sarah Shook". Rolling Stone.
  28. Whitelock, Ed (4 April 2018). "Sarah Shook and the Disarmers Have Made a New Country Classic with 'Years'". PopMatters.
  29. Sawyer, Bobbie Jean (5 April 2018). "Sarah Shook Talks Resilience, Drinking Songs and Making Her Own Rules". Wide Open Country.
  30. Kot, Greg (6 April 2018). "Sarah Shook sings with sharpened clarity on 'Years'". Chicago Tribune.
  31. Irwin, Taylor (18 April 2018). "Bandsintown Big Break: Meet Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, The Beautifully Defiant Force Country Music Needs". Bandsintown.
  32. "sarah shook and the disarmers | Guy With Typewriter". Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  33. What it Takes: film en douze tableaux, retrieved 2018-09-09
  34. Films, What Were We Thinking (2018-01-06), What it Takes: film en douze tableaux - TRAILER, retrieved 2018-09-09
  35. "Film Review: What it Takes: film en douze tableaux". Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  36. Rhodes, Davis (16 June 2016). "Q&A with rocker mom Sarah Shook". The Daily Tar Heel.
  37. @sarahshook (November 3, 2020). "There needs to be community housing for gay kids with conservative parents. Speaking as a nonbinary pansexual person and former child of conservative parents" – via Twitter.
  38. @sarahshook (July 8, 2020). "I knew I was genderqueer when I was about 9 (right around the time I developed and had to conceal my first crush) and from that point on I accepted that I never completely identified as a girl" – via Twitter.
  39. Wildsmith, Steve (24 May 2017). "Outlaw country becomes a vehicle for gender activism by Sarah Shook". The Daily Times.
  40. Hussey, Allison (14 December 2016). "Sarah Shook and Erika Libero Mark Progressive Territory With Rainbow Decals and Amplify Women's Voices". Indy Week.
  41. Ludwig, Jamie (11 April 2017). "Sarah Shook and the Disarmers on Outlaw Country and Safe Spaces. Listen to "The Nail" Now!". She Shreds Magazine.
  42. Sawyer, Bobbie Jean (8 June 2017). "Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, a Renegade Outlaw Country Band from North Carolina". Wide Open Country.
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