Sarah Skinner is fast becoming one of the most influential soprano sax players on the scene today. Most notably known for her playing (and singing) in the award winning duo the Red Dirt Skinners.
Sarah began playing wind instruments (initially clarinet and then soprano, alto and tenor sax) at the tender age of 7 and recalls; “It touched my toes when I first started”.
Still only standing at 5 feet 3, Sarah is well known for her jaw-dropping stamina on stage, with speed-of-light changes mid song between soloing on soprano sax and her powerful Joplin-esque vocals.
Discouraged from a career in music, Sarah went to University and trained to be a Speech Therapist. She graduated with an honours degree in 1993 and then proceeded to spend most of her twenties repeatedly changing careers before, in late 1999, she realised that she was right all along, quit her day job and began working with various bands, teaching students and taking session work.
By 2010, Sarah was well established as a session player (tenor, alto, soprano) and also played in various bands. Sarah met her husband, Rob, whilst playing tenor in a Madness tribute band. After a brief stint with a four piece blues rock band, Sarah and Rob were encouraged to perform more of their own material during a chance meeting with Lisa Marie Presley at one of their shows. The couple began writing together in early 2011 and they released their debut album that Autumn.
The Red Dirt Skinners (Sarah and Rob) are known for bending the genre rules and perhaps this comes from Sarah’s wide experience playing classical to folk to ska to blues to jazz and everything in between, and for her husband’s equally diverse musical background as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist.
Winning “Instrumentalist of the Year” at the British Blues Awards brought Sarah to the attention of Trevor James in late 2014. Sarah is the first female artist to be endorsed by TJ Saxes.
The Red Dirt Skinners genre-busting sound has led to them being the first band in history to succeed at both the British Blues Awards and the British Country Music Awards. The Red Dirt Skinners were also named in the top ten acts of 2014 by UK Country Radio. More recently, they’ve been nominated “Duo of the Year” at the International Acoustic Music Awards.
Aside from a relentless touring schedule, Sarah and Rob work hard to encourage new artists. They have a studio which they hire out to up and coming acts, help with their PR and actively seek out promising artists to encourage and nurture.
Sarah and her husband were recently deemed by the Canadian Government to be “performing at a world class level” and invited to become permanent residents. They took up the offer and released their fifth studio album, Under Utopian Skies, in September 2018.
Red Dirt Skinners press quotes:
"If there’s a Pink Floyd of folk music, these guys are it. They’re innovative, orchestral and dreamy, and Sarah is the David Gilmour of the soprano sax." Roots Music Canada
"I gave it 5 out of 5 stars. It should have had 6. Wonderful harmonies and remarkable heart and depth" Andy Snipper. Music News
"Substantial, beautifully rendered folk music. The Skinners trademark close harmonies elevate their uplifting quality material throughout" Classic Rock Prog Magazine.
"The Red Dirt Skinners are a sparkling and refreshing antidote to the world of musical blandness" Cashbox Canada
“Home bred duos don’t come more impassioned or impressive” Daily Mirror
"One of the best duos in the business" Blues in Britain Magazine.
“The best live act I’ve heard in yonks!” Fatea Magazine.
“One of the best acts to come out of the UK in a long time” Hugh’s Room, Toronto
“Head and shoulders above anything around at the moment.” Radio Vera Ireland