Sarah Blasko is the stage name of Sarah Elizabeth Blaskow who was born on 23 September 1976 and grew up in Sydney. Her family had just returned from French-speaking Réunion, where both of her parents were Christian missionaries Blasko’s mother, Ellie (died c. 2000 of bowel cancer), was a nurse and her father, Nikolai David Blaskow, is a teacher. Her father is from a Bulgarian-German background.Blasko has an older sister, Kate. Upon their return to Australia, her parents frequently changed denominations including Anglican, Baptist, Uniting, and Charismatic; and settled at a Pentecostal church in Sydney, which later became the Hillsong Church. Blasko started singing at church with her tone-deaf mother alongside. She later recalled “[m]usic was something I kind of fell into. My sister was always the singer of the family, I wanted to be a vet. I grew up going to church which was often a very musical place”.
Raised by missionary parents, Blasko sang her first songs in church alongside her tone-deaf mother, but the influences that came across more readily in her music derived from the ’80s radio and television she heard as a child: Prince, David Bowie, and Eurythmics. Those popular acts, combined with the composers her professor father introduced her to — Rachmaninov, Schubert, and Bach — formed a pleasing musical jumble she would later pick apart and repackage into digestible, brainy pop. In high school, Blasko led a jazz- and blues-influenced band with her sister that soon dissolved; other bands followed, but within the space of a few years Blasko was determinedly a solo act, and also something of a homebody.
While Blasko was attending high school she formed a jazz-blues group with Kate. By the age of 15, Blasko was concerned that she “wouldn’t make it” and this was partially influenced by the church’s apocalyptic message of the “End of the World” and “Christ’s Return”. She eventually left the church in her final year of school, declaring that its emphasis on material success “just didn’t fit” with her, or her interpretation of the scriptures. However, she has since stated that she still believes in God, despite her perception that such an admission is unpopular in Australia. By the age of 18 she had written her first songs. She had no formal singing lessons until aged 19 and also started playing guitar. At university, Blasko completed a degree in English literature and film.
An introductory EP, the six-song Prelusive, arrived in 2004 and was routinely referred to as “homespun.” But its promise propelled Blasko, who returned later that year with the full-length The Overture & the Underscore and, after racking up fans in Australia, pulled up stakes and landed in Hollywood. After the disc’s 2005 release in America, Blasko embarked on tours with the likes of Ray LaMontagne and Martha Wainwright. Her second full-length album, What the Sea Wants, the Sea Will Have, was released in Australia in 2006, debuting at number seven on the ARIA chart. Two years later, she decamped to Sweden and began working with Björn Yttling, who produced 2009’s As Day Follows Night — the album was released in another edition a year later in 2010, packaged with Live at the Forum.
Sarah Blasko married Cameron Semmens in 1998. Semmens is a performance poet, and in the latter years of being a member of Acquiesce, Blasko performed under her married name, Sarah Semmens. Blasko and Cameron each had a complementary Shinto tattoo on their respective shoulders. The marriage lasted three years; Blasko told Zuel in 2006 that she had “an early unsuccessful marriage”. Album notes for Blasko’s debut solo EP, Prelusive, acknowledge Cameron as her muse.
From early 2004 Blasko worked with fellow musician, co-composer and co-producer Robert F Cranny, including on her first two albums. Prior to her third album being recorded in January 2009 their creative and personal relationship “had ended some time back”.
She appeared at a breast cancer benefit concert in October 2006 as “[o]ther forms of cancer have affected my family, and I have friends whose families have been impacted by breast cancer. It made sense to me to play at such an event”.
Blasko has vintage taste in clothes, music and art; in 2009 she revealed in a Rolling Stone Australia interview: “I like things that are old and have been lived in. It probably started as a kid when my family shopped at Vinnie’s because we hardly had any money. I like things that stand the test of time”. ‘Vinnies’ is a colloquialism for Society of Saint Vincent de Paul which runs second hand stores for needy individuals.
Blasko gave birth to a son in July 2015, with her partner Dave Miller.If you have additional information about Sarah Blasko, please write a letter to this e-mail address or leave a message in “Artists” section of our Discuss.
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