A classically-trained musician who began playing cello age 9, Clanton grew up in a conservative Southern Baptist household, where MTV and certain radio and tv shows were off-limits. Then, her life changed in college, when she discovered holistic alternatives to calm her life-long anxiety, and the new sounds of the Greenville, South Carolina open mic scene. “It opened up this whole world to me,” she said. It was a world which Clanton ultimately traveled to Bonaroo, where in 2008, she saw someone doing something unheard of: “I saw this guy plucking cello and playing Fiona Apple and Gnarles Barkley, and I was like, ‘Oh my God’… I’d never thought about singing and playing cello at the same time.”
Things moved quickly from there. She attended The Swannanoa Gathering, a folk music and songwriting workshop near Asheville, NC, where she was taught how to strum chords on a cello and hone her songwriting. She found herself performing more frequently, and even organizing a couple festivals of her own like Music in the Woods – a weekly solar powered festival at Paris Mountain State Park in Greenville, South Carolina.. And by the time she left Greenville for Music City in 2014, she had already recorded her first album, and was doing 200 dates a year, playing bars, weddings, “Anything I could do,” she says.
Sarah Clanton is my go-to cellist when I need a player who can think out of the “box.”
– Richard Leigh – Grammy Award Winning American country music songwriter and singer