July 13, 2021 5 min read
As singer, songwriter, guitarist, cultural critic and feminist activist -- few musicians have made more of an impact on the Alternative music scene, and Indie Culture in past two decades than St. Vincent. From a musical family, and inspired in her teens by listening to 90‘s Grunge music, St. Vincent has become a master of producing music that subverts standard Pop and Rock conventions in completely original and insightful ways.
With her emotionally powerful and musically sophisticated songwriting, combined with her inventive guitar playing, St. Vincent combines elements of Pop, Rock, Indie and Jazz in ways that are often startling and always defy our musical expectations. St. Vincent’s albums, from 2007‘sMarry Me to 2017’sMasseduction, have climbed the Billboard charts and won multiple Grammy awards, making St. Vincent the first female solo artist to win the Grammy for Best Alternative Album in over 20 years, and only the second in history after Sinead O’Connor did it in 1991.
Born Annie Clark on September 28, 1982, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, St. Vincent began playing guitar at the age of 12. Inspired by Punk and Grunge music in her teens, especially bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden, she picked up music quickly and learned quite a bit about the music business and the life of a touring musician when she joined her uncle Tuck Andress as a teen on tour with his popular jazz duo Tuck & Patti.
After graduating from high school in 2001, she went on to study at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, and while in school recorded and released a 3-song EP with fellow Berklee students. The project had the uniquely palindromic title Ratsliveonnoevilstar. Clark left Berklee soon afterward, in 2004, to sing and play guitar for the oversized Baroque pop group Polyphonic Spree, first touring with them and then appearing on their 2007 releaseThe Fragile Army.
In 2006, she left the Polyphonic Spree and joined the backing band of like-minded pop composer Sufjan Stevens. She recorded a three-song EP to sell at her shows with Stevens, on which she adopted the pseudonym St. Vincent, a name inspired by her Grandmother as well as the New York hospital where poet Dylan Thomas passed away.
St. Vincent went out on her own in 2007 to release her first solo record,Marry Me which was well received by critics and caught the attention of executives at the independent label 4AD who quickly signed her for her second record,Actor.Actor represented a musical leap forward from her debut album. Excellent reviews and an impressive tour contributed toActor climbing up the Billboard 200 album chart to number 90.
In September of 2011, St. Vincent released her third solo album,Strange Mercy. In the same year, she took part in a special concert event to honor pioneering indie rock acts featured in Michael Azerrad's bookOur Band Could Be Your Life. There she performed an impressive version of Big Black'sKerosenethat won the attention and praise of the band’s founder Steve Albini.
Back in 2009, St. Vincent met Talking Heads frontman David Byrne at Radio City Music Hall in New York City at an AIDS/HIV charity benefit concert. The two made plans to do a one-off show together, but as they began working together, the project blossomed into a full collaboration and the albumLove This Giant was born.Love This Giant was released in 2012 and St. Vincent and Byrne spent much of that year touring in support of the project, which was a huge critical and commercial success.
St. Vincent Ernie Ball Demo
After recording the albumLove This Giant with Talking Heads icon David Byrne in 2012, St. Vincent and Byrne went out on tour in support of the album for the rest of 2012 and part of 2013. For that tour, St. Vincent looked for a workhorse ‘jack of all trades’ guitar that would offer a full arsenal of sonic options and decided upon a dual humbucker Ernie Ball Music Man Albert Lee signature model for its versatile tone and future-retro looks. With its relatively light body, supremely thin c-shaped neck, and versatile Music Man humbucker pickups, the Albert Lee model (also available in a Sterling by Music Man version) worked out perfectly for her.
After the tour, St. Vincent met with Sterling Ball and the rest of the development team at Music Man to develop her own Music Man signature model. Sterling Ball told her to draw a body shape for her guitar. St. Vincent’s personal taste was for a future-retro look with a lot of angularity. In terms of functionality, her guitar needed to be light. A lot of guitars she had played in the past sounded great but were just too heavy for her, with her light build, to carry around onstage. Her signature guitar would combine her angular retro-futurism aesthetic with the ergonomic considerations. In the end, she and Music Man came up with one of the boldest and most refreshing guitar designs in recent memory -- the soon-to-be-iconic St. Vincent STV60 with its long fins and tight waist and offset cutaways that deliver exquisite comfort and easy playability.
In 2017, the Music Man St. Vincent was redesigned in a Sterling by Music Man version that delivers the spirit, feel and high quality sound inspired by the original Music Man model in an accessible package priced under $700! Available in dual humbucker and 3 mini-humbucker versions, in a variety of colors including black, daphne blue, fiesta red and Vincent blue, the Sterling by Music Man STV60 features a uniquely balanced African Mahogany body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, a bent steel vintage style tremolo and an oversized 4+2 headstock for the perfect combination of style, versatility and playability.
The Ernie Ball spec Signature Artist pickups with a custom configured 5-way switch deliver an array of sounds from bright stratty-tones to fat, heavy sounds reminiscent of a Les Paul. Both the 3 mini-humbucker and the HH versions are wired with a 12dB boost on the volume control, giving you increased volume and power when you need to stand out from the mix. Whether you can afford the high end Music Man St. Vincent guitar, or the Sterling by Music Man model, you will be playing one of the most futuristic and forward-thinking guitar designs in recent memory, equipped with everything you need to find your unique voice and realize your fullest musical expression.
In April of 2014, things came full circle, when St. Vincent, who was so inspired by Nirvana in her youth, was invited by the remaining band members to front a reunion performance for Nirvana’s induction into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Performing the Nirvana classicLithium, St. Vincent paid tribute to Nirvana singer and songwriter Kurt Cobain, as well as the band that sparked her early interest in making music.
St. Vincent Plays With Nirvana at Rock N Roll HOF
Between 2014 and now St. Vincent has released two more solo albums, the self-titled St. Vincent (2015) and MASSEDUCTION (2019), both of which won Grammy Awards for Best Alternative Album. St Vincent also won the Grammy for Best Rock Song for MASSEDUCTION.
Today, St. Vincent is today universally recognized as one of the most unique and talented musicians on the Alternative music scene, and the guitar she helped Ernie Ball Music Man create is quickly becoming iconic for its sonic versatility and its unique future-retro aesthetic.
If you are one of the few music enthusiasts out there who is unfamiliar with St. Vincent’s music check out her amazing performance onAustin City Limits, and you can check out the surprisingly affordableSterling by Music Man STV-60 on our website in an array of colors.
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