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Jarboe 2009.jpg
Jarboe performing live in 2009
Background information
Birth nameJarboe La Salle Devereaux [1]
Also known asThe Living Jarboe
Born Mississippi, U.S. [2]
Origin New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Genres Experimental rock [3]
InstrumentsVocals, keyboard, organ
Years active1984–present
Labels Atavistic, Touch and Go Records, Revolver, Alternative Tentacles, Caroline, Neurot Recordings, The End Records, Season Of Mist
Associated acts Swans, Neurosis, Jesu, World of Skin, Vampillia, Veil of Thorns,
Website thelivingjarboe.com

Jarboe La Salle Devereaux, known mononymously as Jarboe ( /ˈɑːrb/ ), is an American singer-songwriter and keyboardist who came to prominence as a member of the New York City-based band Swans in 1985. Jarboe and Michael Gira, the founder of Swans, were the two constant members of the group until it broke up in 1997.


Although absent from the group's lineup when the band reformed in 2010, Jarboe contributed background vocals and voice collage for the band's 2012 album, The Seer . [4] She has released numerous solo albums and collaborations, many of which have been self-published. She also co-composed the soundtrack of the 2009 horror game The Path .

Life and career

Jarboe was born in Mississippi, and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana and Atlanta, Georgia. [2] As a child she learned to play a Hammond organ, [5] and studied opera at the insistence of her father, who hoped for her to have a career as a singer. [5] She has described her father, an employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), [6] as "the ultimate law-enforcement man". [7] Both of her parents were employees of the FBI, and met through their respective jobs. [8] In a 2015 interview, she revealed that her father died before she joined Swans, though she commented that her mother was "very interested in what I was doing." [8]

Jarboe described herself as "obsessed" with Swans since hearing their first album, Filth (1983). [7] She came into contact with Michael Gira and attended the band's practice sessions before, after several auditions, joining as a vocalist and keyboardist and debuting on Greed (1986). Prior to Swans, Jarboe's musical background had consisted of training as a jazz and choral vocalist. [9]

I had to unlearn proper singing technique and pronunciation. There is a tremendous difference between the vernacular of jazz and choral work and the way Michael Gira molded me. I think Michael Gira is the one who made me a ‘rock’ singer. He told me, ‘Drop your g’s.’ It’s not ‘going into,’ it’s ‘gonna go.’ ‘Drop your consonants and relax.’ He said to me, ‘You’re an American, sing like an American.’ He really ripped into my singing style and changed it around for me. [9]

Between 1985 and 1996, she worked as a vocalist and keyboardist in the band, appearing on albums including Children of God (1987), The Burning World (1989), and Soundtracks for the Blind (1996). Jarboe's inclusion in the band marked a departure from their previous noise rock sound to a more melodic industrial and even folk rock sound. [5] She also collaborated with Gira, forming their side project, The World of Skin in 1987, releasing several albums and singles.

Jarboe left Swans in 1997 when the band broke up and embarked on a solo career, releasing various experimental records (many of which she has self-released and distributed over the internet) [10] including Sacrificial Cake (1995) and Anhedoniac (1998). She has continued to self-release solo albums and, despite not returning to the group, recorded vocals for two tracks on the re-formed Swans' album, The Seer (2012).

Jarboe completed a world tour in the autumn/winter of 2013, with Veil of Thorns' P. Emerson Williams on guitar. [11] She released an experimental soundscape album, With Sun Falling, with Veil of Thorns in June 2015. [12]


Related Research Articles

Swans (band) American experimental rock band

Swans are an American experimental rock band formed in 1982 by singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Michael Gira. One of few acts to emerge from the New York City-based no wave scene and stay intact into the next decade, Swans have become recognized for an ever-changing sound, exploring genres such as noise rock, post-punk, industrial and post-rock. Initially, their music was known for its sonic brutality and misanthropic lyrics. Following the addition of singer, songwriter and keyboardist Jarboe in 1986, Swans began to incorporate melody and intricacy into their music. Jarboe remained the band's only constant member except Gira and semi-constant guitarist Norman Westberg until their dissolution in 1997.

Michael Gira American singer and musician

Michael Rolfe Gira is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, author and artist. He is the main force behind the New York City musical group Swans and fronted Angels of Light. He is also the founder of Young God Records.

Angels of Light American band

Angels of Light were an American folk band that was formed circa 1998 by singer-songwriter and musician Michael Gira after he disbanded Swans, the group he had founded in 1982. The band has marked a distinctly different style for Gira since he left Swans, most noticeably being musically more melodic and less brutal than his previous efforts.

Norman Westberg American guitarist

Norman Westberg is a guitarist from Detroit best known for his work with Swans. Present through almost the entirety of the band's existence, Westberg was brought on for Swans' debut album Filth (1983) and appeared on every album through 1991's White Light from the Mouth of Infinity. Westberg became a full-time Swans member once again when Michael Gira reactivated the group in 2010.

The World of Skin was a project springing out of the American group Swans, which was a collaboration between the core Swans members Michael Gira and Jarboe. The project was initially called Skin, with the first two albums being released under that name, the last one being released under the name the World of Skin. In the UK, the first two albums were released by Product Inc., an imprint of Mute Records, while the last was released on Gira's own Young God label.

<i>Greed</i> (Swans album) 1986 studio album by Swans

Greed is the third studio album by American experimental rock band Swans. It was released in 1986, through record label K.422. Greed marks the slow turning point for Swans away from the harsh, brutal noise rock of prior releases, and is also the first Swans album to contain contributions from Jarboe.

<i>Soundtracks for the Blind</i> 1996 studio album (double album) by Swans

Soundtracks for the Blind is the tenth studio album by Swans, and the last released until 2010's My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky. It was released as a double CD in 1996, through Young God Records. Soundtracks for the Blind was intended, as suggested by the title, to function as a sort of "soundtrack for a non-existent film", and is Swans' most varied studio effort.

<i>The Great Annihilator</i> 1995 studio album by Swans

The Great Annihilator is the ninth studio album by American experimental rock band Swans. It was released on January 23, 1995, through frontman Michael Gira's own record label, Young God. The album has been described by Gira as a companion album to his solo album Drainland (1995); the two were remastered and re-released together in April 2017.

<i>The Burning World</i> (album) 1989 studio album by Swans

The Burning World is the sixth studio album by American experimental rock band Swans. It was released in 1989, through record label Uni Records; the band's only major label release. Co-produced by Bill Laswell and band leader Michael Gira, the album features a major stylistic shift from their past releases, being very tuneful and accessible compared to the bleak, industrialized sound from their past records. It received a mixed reception and was a commercial disappointment; the band was dropped off the record label following its poor performance.

<i>White Light from the Mouth of Infinity</i> Studio album by American experimental rock band Swans

White Light from the Mouth of Infinity is the seventh studio album by American experimental rock band Swans. It was released in 1991, through the record label Young God. In 2015, it was remastered and made available again digitally and in a 3CD set along with Love of Life and an album of bonus tracks.

<i>Swans Are Dead</i> 1998 album

Swans Are Dead is the fifth double and seventh overall live album by American experimental rock band Swans. It was released in 1998 and was recorded in 1995 and 1997 on the band's final tours, before reuniting in 2010.

Time Is Money (Bastard) EP by Swans

"Time Is Money (Bastard)" is a song by American experimental rock band Swans. It was released as a 12-inch single in 1986, through record label K.422.

<i>A Screw</i> 1986 EP

A Screw is the third EP by the New York City experimental rock group Swans. The EP's three songs were later appended as bonus tracks to the CD release of Holy Money.

<i>Love of Life</i> (album) 1992 album

Love of Life is the eighth studio album by American experimental rock band Swans. It was released in 1992 on Young God Records.

Celebrity Lifestyle ep by Swans

"Celebrity Lifestyle" is a song by American rock band Swans, from the band's ninth studio album, The Great Annihilator. It was released as the album's lead single on October 24, 1995, via Martin Atkins' Invisible Records.

<i>My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky</i> 2010 studio album by Swans

My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky is the eleventh studio album by American rock band Swans released on September 23, 2010; it was their first studio recording in 14 years. Swans founder Michael Gira funded the recording of this album by creating the limited-edition album I Am Not Insane and chose several collaborators from previous Swans line-ups as well as his side project Angels of Light to record and tour for this album. My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky has received positive critical feedback for the return of Swans as well as the rich spiritual themes of the lyrics.

<i>The Seer</i> (Swans album) 2012 studio album by Swans

The Seer is the twelfth studio album by American experimental rock band Swans and was released on August 28, 2012 by Gira's own record label Young God Records. Producer and frontman Michael Gira funded the recording of the album with the sales of We Rose from Your Bed with the Sun in Our Head.

<i>To Be Kind</i> 2014 album

To Be Kind is the thirteenth studio album by American experimental rock band Swans, released on May 12, 2014. It was released as a triple LP, a double CD, and a two-CD deluxe edition that includes a live DVD of performances from Hellfest Open Air Festival, Pitchfork Music Festival and Primavera Sound Festival, as well as a digital download. Critical reception of the album was very positive, continuing a string of well-received albums from the band. The album peaked at number 37 on US Billboard 200, and debuted at number 38 on the UK Albums Chart. Both are the highest chartings that Swans had ever achieved on a studio album, and it is the first time that the band cracked the top 40 in both countries.

The Body Lovers and The Body Haters were experimental music projects led by composer Michael Gira between 1998 and 1999 following the breakup of Swans in 1997. Both projects served as an outlet for Gira's loop experimentation within the drone and dark ambient genres and were compared to the compositions comprising Swans' final pre-breakup album Soundtracks for the Blind. The music was built around samples and found sounds, some of which dated as having been recorded as far back as 1980.

<i>Drainland</i> 1995 studio album by M. Gira

Drainland is the debut solo studio album by American musician Michael Gira. It was released on June 9, 1995 through Alternative Tentacles record label. Using spare arrangements recorded in August 1994 at musician Bill Rieflin's Seattle home, the album features contributions from Rieflin and Gira's Swans bandmate Jarboe.


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