Clanton’s speakeasy pop’icana show is a celLO-bration of the unexpected.


Sarah Clanton is bringing people together and building a feel-good machine. The Nashville singer-songwriter, who has brought the classical and pop worlds together with her use of a cello, rather than a guitar, to front one of Music City’s most unique bands, has been on a feel-good mission since long before she plucked her way into town. But it’s never been more apparent than on her new album, Here We Are.

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.

Here We Are may be a solo album, but Clanton says it could not have been made without others — from co-producer Eric Loomis, to a group of top Nashville session musicians and many more. But mostly, she says, the album was made for others. She jokes that the uplifting, “big and awesome” pop album is a “feel-good machine,” built to bring people together in these difficult and divisive times. “We’re not going to make any progress being divided,” she says. “If I can get some of that mindfulness out there to negate some of the hate, that would be so great.”

With flashes of the classically-trained pop sensibility of Regina Spektor, and the sultry jazzitude of Amy Winehouse, Clanton finds herself in good company on Here We Are— while still “cello-brating,” she says, her one-of-a-kind musical approach. And this uniqueness hasn’t gone unnoticed. In the Spring of 2017, Sarah was selected as an Official Showcase Artist at the South Eastern Regional Folk Alliance in Montreat, North Carolina. Then, in late 2017, No Depression and Elmore Magazine premiered her single “Silver Lining” (co-written with Mary Bragg), the first single from Here We Are.

Like “Silver Lining,” which Clanton says is about “championing constructive conversation,” all the songs on Here We Are were written with what she says is a certain “mindfulness” that they could make people’s lives better. “Slow it Down,” she says, is about “living in the moment.” “We Belong” delivers the message that, “Wherever you are, you’re ok… we’re all just here, and we’re all in it together.” (It’s a message similar to that of the #metoo movement, which Clanton was interviewed about by National Public Radio in March 2018.)

Clanton has even stepped outside of her own music to help others, teaching young women the craft of songwriting, as a mentor for Nashville’s Girls Write Nashville program. Because it wasn’t that long ago Clanton was a young musician herself, trying to find her way personally, and professionally. But now, she’s got a feel-good machine, and she’s going to use it. “I kinda have this theory that if we don’t feel good individually, we aren’t going to be good for everybody.”

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Here We Are contains eleven of the most stylishly produced pop songs I’ve ever heard in my life, and unlike her closest contemporaries’ output it contains absolutely zero filler... There’s no need for any debate; Sarah Clanton is the most exciting artist in all of pop music right now, and Here We Are sees her arriving at the primetime stage ready to lead a new generation of music fans into the future
— No Depression
Sarah Clanton, the American south’s up and coming pop singing superstar, has never had a problem when it comes to imparting her most sacred feelings unto her fans, but in her brand new album Here We Are she takes her vulnerable style of writing to the next level and yields an intimately moving album that can sit beside pop’s greatest recordings... The string arrangements are nimbly delivered with virtuosity and grandiose charm, but they in no way outshine Clanton’s vocal performance – which on its own could bring even the most discriminating and hard nosed of music fans to their very knees. I wasn’t surprised to find either of these in Here We Are, but then again I’ve come to anticipate nothing less than elegant perfection when it comes to this artist’s body of work.
— Indieshark
Artists of Sarah Clanton’s caliber come around only once in a generation, and if we don’t give her music the platform that it truly deserves we could be robbing ourselves of the opportunity to experience of our era’s most gifted performers... Driven by a featherweight vocal from Clanton that weaves around a surprisingly visceral guitar riff and jazzy percussion, “I Can See You” actually took my breath away the first time I listened to it. It’s essentially a perfect amalgamation of Clanton’s southern-style sway and the intricately wound, classically inspired arrangements that she’s becoming famous for. I don’t normally say this, but this song alone makes Here We Are a more than worthy purchase for any pop music fan. I think if she cuts this track as the leadoff single for this record, she could seriously be looking at a Grammy nomination.
— GasHouse Radio
Sarah’s star burns so bright that not even the darkest of shadows could smother its flame, and in her brand new record Here We Are, she dishes out some of her most searing songs for us to enjoy in high definition... Clanton has a number of live shows coming up this fall that will likely sell out very quickly after the release of Here We Are, so if I were you I’d do my best to secure a chance to see her play this set live while it’s still fresh and new to the world.
— Neufutur
In the last three years or so, Clanton has risen out of relative obscurity to become one of the biggest names in indie pop from one end of the United State to the other. Her infused style of classical and pop (that is led by the gravity of her intense cello play) is changing the game, and her latest record Here We Are is easily her finest hour yet... There are danceable grooves met with deeply emotional moments of contemplation, and just when we think she’s run out of ideas she throws another layer of hypnotizing smoke in our direction, leaving us a combination of dazed and awe-inspired. Even if you’re not the biggest pop fan in the world, you’re going to want to give this album a spin – it transcends any barriers that genre categorization could place around it.
— Mobangeles
Sarah Clanton is my go-to cellist when I need a player who can think outside-the-box.
— Richard Leigh - Grammy Award Winning American country music songwriter and singer
Sarah Clanton is one of the most unique and intriguing artists and songwriters in the Nashville scene these days. Her wit and whimsical charm shine through in the various styles she employs, and her instrument-of-choice being a cello certainly helps her stand out from the pack.
— ET Brown - Manager, Creative Services SESAC - Nashville, TN
Armed with a voice as big and powerful as her cello, SC commands the stage. I’m truly inspired by her infectious songs and engaging performance.
— David Mayfield - The David Mayfield Parade, Artist, Singer-Songwriter, Producer
The idea of going to see someone play the cello might conjure thoughts of a stuffy classical recital, but a performance by Sarah Clanton is anything but formal.
— Vincent Harris - Writer, Greenville Journal
Sarah is full of surprises. Her demeanor is demure, her music is dark-edged with a satirical bite. She has imagination, bravado, and the technical chops to turn you into a believer.
— Peter Himmelman - Award Winning Artist, Singer Songwriter