Grammy-winning Sarah Jarosz has become the go-to vocalist for “A Prairie Home Companion” — for both Garrison Keillor and Chris Thile.
With the Texas-reared, New York-based singer headlining two nights at the Dakota Jazz Club this week for the first time, it’s a good time to get better acquainted with the rising 25-year-old folk/bluegrass star. Here are 10 things we learned about Jarosz (pronounced jah-rose) in a recent interview.
1. Jarosz won two Grammys in February.
Her fourth album, “Undercurrent,” was named best folk album while “House of Mercy,” a single from the album, earned a prize for best roots performance. Those were her first Grammys.
“It just sank in 100 percent in the last couple of weeks because they finally arrived in the mail,” said Jarosz. (The Grammys handed out in the ceremonies are ceremonial; the engraved ones are shipped later.) “It definitely gets the attention of people not totally aware of who I am. It’s been one of my lifelong dreams. I’m totally thrilled.”
She put the Grammys on the mantel in her New York apartment, next to a painting her parents bought her years ago on vacation, a drawing by her mom, a picture of her old dog and a sign that says “peace.”
2. Jarosz credits her appearances on “A Prairie Home Companion” and public TV’s “Austin City Limits” with raising her profile, which ultimately led to the Grammys.
“When I travel around the world, those are the two things people say where they’ve heard of me most,” she said.
3. Working with Keillor is very different from working with Thile.
“With Chris, it’s much more musically intense. With Garrison, it had a similar intensity in a different way,” said Jarosz, who did a summer tour with Keillor in 2015. “Chris is very particular and will work the arrangement of a song, practice it and try and do it that way every time. With Garrison, I feel there’s a much more improvisational aspect to it, which I feel is difficult in another way. He may not ever do the same thing twice. You have to be on your toes with both of them, but in different ways.”
4. Her 2016 release, “Undercurrent,” was the first album Jarosz made without having to juggle schoolwork.
She recorded her 2009 debut, “Song Up in Her Head,” during her senior year of high school. She made her next two projects, “Follow Me Down” and “Build Me Up From Bones,” while studying at the New England Conservatory of Music. She graduated in 2013.
5. “Undercurrent” was her first album featuring all-original material.
“From fall 2014 to 2015 was the first time in my entire career that I had a chance to take time off from the road,” she said. “It was the most alone time I’ve had and allowed me to dive into songwriting in a more focused way.”
6. Proficient on mandolin, banjo and guitar, Jarosz has known mandolin master Thile since she was 9.
“I’d gotten my mandolin only a few months before. He signed my program at this music festival in Texas: ‘Let’s jam sometime.’
“That was single-handedly the thing that [inspired her to think] ‘I have to get good enough to jam with him someday.’ ”
He went from hero to mentor to collaborator. And Thile, now 36, has appeared on all four of Jarosz’s albums.
7. Jarosz is grateful that she grew up in a small town in Texas.
“I identify with being a Texan. I lived there for 18 years. I’m thankful to grow up in a small town of 2,000 people, Wimberley, and I went to this weekly bluegrass jam and to also have the close proximity to Austin, one of the great music cities in the country. The combination helped shape me into the musician I’ve become.”
8. Jarosz wanted to live in New York ever since her parents let her go see the Tensions Mountain Boys.
Jarosz saw Thile’s group, which later changed its moniker to Punch Brothers, at Carnegie Hall when she was 15. She moved to the Big Apple after college.
“It’s a fun, inspiring place to come home to from the road,” Jarosz said. “There’s always amazing music.”
She’s recently gone to concerts by Laura Marling and Mr. New York State of Mind, Billy Joel.
9. In Polish, “jarosz” means vegetarian. No, she is not one.
“I grew up eating too much Tex-Mex and BBQ in Texas to be a vegetarian.”
10. Jarosz’s hobbies are watching baseball and exercising, especially running.
She’s a Red Sox fan because her dad is originally from Massachusetts and she got to sing the national anthem at a Red Sox game while she was in college.
When she went on a run the day of this interview, who did she run into in Central Park?
“I saw Garrison standing on the corner,” she blurted out. “He lives like two blocks away from me. So we had a little chat this morning.”