Chances are that if you frequented the Red Rose Coffeehouse during the early 2000’s then you may have stumbled upon a petite brunette who worked behind the counter.
But there is a good chance that if you can recall Sharon Van Etten, you’d never know what she is up to these days.
A New Jersey native, Van Etten was called to the mid-state like many others as she was attracted to the recording industry program at MTSU.
Since then, she has traveled down many avenues that comprised several jobs, which included time at a record label with a few bad experiences in relationships through the stretch that have provided fuel for her present career.
Her current day job as a singer/songwriter has been steamrolling of late as she has been booked by major festivals including South by Southwest, Sasquatch, Bonnaroo and an upcoming gig at Bumbershoot in Washington.
“I feel honored we were asked to play Bonnaroo. So many amazing bands and so many wonderful people.” said Van Etten in a recent interview.
During this span, Van Etten has graced the pages of Spin magazine and found her latest album, Epic, receiving high praise on NPR as she has been featured on its World Café series among other noteworthy reviews.
“It’s pretty surreal. I really can’t believe it,” noted Van Etten.
Epic, a seven-song work and Van Etten’s second full-length album, explores all of the different circumstances and emotional ups and downs found in relationships. Though melancholy in disposition, the album will leave the listener with an uplifted spirit through tracks like the mid-tempo standout “One Day” and the closer “Love More,” which is a stripped-down tune that adds a sense of closure and hope to the album.
Recounting her days in Middle Tennessee, Van Etten is grateful of her time spent in Murfreesboro as she confessed during her slot at Bonnaroo this past year as she told the crowd she was proud to have lived in the town.
Coincidentally, she didn’t play too much during her days in Murfreesboro but was always one who enjoyed the local music scene.
“I rarely played when I lived there. A few open mics at The Boro and on campus. A couple at Red Rose when bands fell through. I had a boyfriend who discouraged me from playing music so it was hard.
“But the bands I loved to see were Glossary, Slack, Kill Devil Hills, Michael Acree, Mercator and The Emery Wheel.”
After the Red Rose closed and Van Etten dropping out of school, she left Murfreesboro in the mid-2000s.
“I had nothing left there for me. There was nowhere to grow, personally. And I missed my family.”
As parting can always be bittersweet, there are always friends and memories left behind.
“Most of my friends live in Nashville now. They come to my shows when we pass through.”
In the end, separating from Murfreesboro proved to be another chapter and growth period in Van Etten’s life and one can only believe helped create a stellar, up close and personal album in Epic, which highlights the splendor and solace found in an unpleasant state of affairs.
Now residing in Brooklyn, the doors are wide open for Van Etten as she recently joined the Jagjaguwar roster that includes Bon Iver and Okkervil River. She is currently in the studio working on a new project that will be released in early 2012.
An engaging review of singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten by M. Post music critic Travis Swann. Though I never had heard of Van Etten - nor any of the other groups mentioned: Glossary, Slack, Kill Devil Hills, etc. - I now will keep an "open ear" for this new era of pop music. I'm confident that I am the one who has been missing out!