“Finding treasure feels great, and such is the case with musician Sarah McQuaid.... I’ve attended hundreds of concerts of all kinds, and her subtle mastery onstage launches her straight into my fave shows ever. One voice, one guitar, and the wondrous reminder of the magic of music. Sarah has the gift.”—The Huffington Post
“The songs are acutely observed and literate, almost like journal notes set to music. They’re measured and tranquil but they’re never dull because there is always a sense of restlessness and unease behind the poetry.... And it’s all lovely.”
—R2/Rock ’n’ Reel
Sarah McQuaid’s voice has been likened to malt whiskey, melted chocolate and “honey poured into wine” (Minor 7th). Her new album Walking Into White (2015) is her most honest and adventurous work to date, with a depth and texture of soundscape that are reflected in her beautifully crafted live shows. A captivating performer, she seduces her audience with cheeky banter and stories from the road, as well as with stunning musicianship; in her hands, the guitar becomes much more than merely an accompanying instrument.
Born in Spain, raised in Chicago and now living in rural England, Sarah refuses to be pigeonholed, segueing easily from one of her emotive originals into a 1930s Cuban jazz number, a 16th century lute piece or an unexpected contemporary cover. Like its predecessors, her fourth solo CD has drawn international critical acclaim: The Musician(UK) called it “A work that grows with each listen,” while Germany’s Folker hailed it as “Ein mutiges Album mit einem potenziellen Pophit” (A courageous album that includes a potential pop hit). “Sending out a trembling resonance, this is a collection of songs that feel their way into your being,” wrote FolkWords (UK), where it was selected as Album of the Month and nominated for both Best Album from a Female Artist and Album of the Year.
Born in Madrid (to a Spanish father and an American mother), raised in Chicago and now living in rural England, Sarah McQuaid was taught piano and guitar by her folksinging mother, and remembers being inspired by meeting her distant cousin, well-known singer/songwriter/storyteller Gamble Rogers, at her grandmother’s house in Indiana. From the age of twelve she was embarking on tours of the US and Canada with the Chicago Children’s Choir, and at eighteen she went to France for a year to study philosophy at the University of Strasbourg.
She moved to Ireland in 1994 and lived there for 13 years, working as a music journalist and magazine editor.
In 2007, she re-released her 1997 debut solo album, When Two Lovers Meet, and launched her solo career with a performance on Irish national television as the musical guest on John Kelly’s popular Friday evening arts show The View.
The same year saw her moving to England and playing major festivals like Sidmouth and Trowbridge, and in 2008 she released her second album, I Won’t Go Home ’Til Morning.
In contrast to the first album’s focus on Irish traditional songs and instrumentals, the follow-up was a celebration of old-time Appalachian folk, with Sarah’s arrangements punctuated by her own fine compositions and a cover of Bobbie Gentry’s classic “Ode to Billie Joe.”