Just a Musician

Caroline Shaw is a musician of many talents, she is a violinist, composer, singer and producer. However, she doesn’t see herself as all of these things separately, she sees herself as “just a musician.” She believes that labeling herself as just a musician is best because it implies that she is capable of being all of these things in the classical world and pop world. It is clear that her intentions are to serve a higher purpose as a musician by remaining true to her western practices as she includes herself in the composition of pop.

Shaw was born in North Carolina and began playing violin when she was two years old. At the age of ten she began writing music by imitating music of Mozart and Brahms. Later, she was accepted into Rice University, where she earned her Bachelors of Music in violin performance. She was then accepted into Yale University for her Master’s Degree again for violin performance. As for her Ph.D., she was accepted into Princeton University for composition. Her career rapidly became a success afterwards . At the age of thirty, she became the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music for her work Partita for 8 Voices. Aside from being a classical composer and violinist, she is also a vocalist. She performs regularly with the ensemble Roomful of Teeth, who she recorded Partita for 8 Voices with. The musician also performs with several other ensembles such as: the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, the Trinity Wall Street Choir, Alarm Will Sound, Wordless Music orchestra and more. After being recognized as a talented musician her journey continued through her composition of pop.

One of Shaw’s most interesting career paths is her collaborations with pop artists. She has sung in harmony with Sara Bareilles and Ben Folds at the Kennedy Center. The musician also contributed to records by The National and Arcade Fire. One of her more popular achievement in collaborations with pop artist has been with famous rap artist Kanye West. In 2015 Caroline Shaw appeared on stage alone at a Democratic National Committee Fundraiser that Kanye was scheduled to perform for. Then, Kanye emerged and continued his performance of Power with Caroline Shaw. Kanye was so enchanted by her work that he continued to collaborate with her outside of the stage. Their work together resulted in a reworked version of Kanye’s songs: “Say You will” from the album 808s and Heartbreaks, “FML” and “Wolves” from The Life of Pablo, “No Mistakes” from Ye, and “Everything” from the album Nasir by Nas which featured both Kanye and Shaw.

Caroline Shaw has a vast verity of work that she does as a composer/performer. Her success as a musician, (which she considers herself to be rather than composer, vocalist, and etcetera) has opened up many opportunities for her in several realms of music. From a Pulitzer Prize winner as a classical composer to a supporting artist with famous artists such as Sara Bareilles and Kanye West, Shaw has proven herself to be a modern Mozart.

Leroy Medina

Citations:
Wilhoite, Meg. 2015 “Shaw, Caroline.” Grove Music Online. 30 Apr. 2019. http://0-www.oxfordmusiconline.com.lib.utep.edu/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0002277536.


Greene, Jayson, and Jayson Greene. “Meet Composer Caroline Shaw, Kanye West’s New Pulitzer Prize-Winning Collaborator.” Pitchfork. October 20, 2015. Accessed April 30, 2019. https://pitchfork.com/thepitch/940-meet-composer-caroline-shaw-kanye-wests-new-pulitzer-prize-winning-collaborator/.

Shaw, Caroline. CAROLINE SHAW. Accessed April 30, 2019. http://carolineshaw.com/#bio.

“DePauw’s School of Music: Interview with Caroline Shaw.” YouTube. September 29, 2014. Accessed April 30, 2019. https://youtu.be/9G0LTS_chRw.


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