Sarah Harmer at the 2010 Vancouver International Folk Music Festival
|Born||November 12, 1970|
|Origin||Burlington, Ontario, Canada|
|Instruments||vocals, guitar, bass, drums|
|Labels||Cold Snap Records|
|Associated acts||The Saddletramps
Born and raised in Burlington, Ontario, Harmer gained her first exposure to the musician's lifestyle as a teenager, when her older sister Mary started taking her to Tragically Hip concerts. At the age of 17, she was invited to join a Toronto band, The Saddletramps. For three years, she juggled The Saddletramps with her studies in philosophy and women's studies at Queen's University.
After leaving The Saddletramps, Harmer put together a band of her own with several Kingston, Ontario musicians, and settled on the name Weeping Tile. The band released its first independent cassette in 1994. Soon afterward, they signed to a major label, and the cassette was re-released in 1995 as an EP. The band quickly became a popular draw on the rock club circuit and on campus radio with their subsequent albums, but never broke through to the mainstream, and broke up in 1998 after being dropped from their label.
Also in 1998, Harmer recorded a set of pop standards as a Christmas gift for her father. After hearing it, her friends and family convinced her to release it as an album, and in 1999 she released it independently as Songs for Clem. Harmer quickly began working on another album, and in 2000, she released You Were Here.
A poppier, more laid-back effort than her work with Weeping Tile, You Were Here became Harmer's mainstream breakthrough, spawning the hits "Basement Apartment" and "Don't Get Your Back Up". The album also appeared on many critics' year-end lists, including TIME magazine, which called it the year's best debut album. It was eventually certified platinum for sales of 100,000 copies in Canada. Almost half of the album (including both of its major hits) consisted of songs she had previously recorded with Weeping Tile or The Saddletramps.
In 2004, she released All of Our Names. The album included the singles "Almost", which made the top 20 on Canadian pop charts, and "Pendulums".
Her fourth album, I'm a Mountain, was released in Canada on November 8, 2005 and in the United States in February 2006. It was nominated for the 2006 Polaris Music Prize, a jury-selected $20,000 cash prize for the Canadian album of the year.
Harmer has also appeared as a guest vocalist on albums by other artists, including Blue Rodeo, Great Big Sea, Rheostatics, Bruce Cockburn, Luther Wright and the Wrongs, Skydiggers, The Weakerthans, Neko Case, Great Lake Swimmers, The Tragically Hip and Bob Wiseman.
In February 2007, Harmer received three Juno Award nominations. I'm a Mountain was up for Best Adult Alternative Album and her DVD Escarpment Blues was up for Best Music DVD. Harmer herself was also up for Songwriter of the Year for her work on "I Am Aglow", "Oleander" and "Escarpment Blues".
In 2011, Harmer participated in the National Parks Project, visiting British Columbia's Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site with Bry Webb, Jim Guthrie and filmmaker Scott Smith. She was also commissioned by CBC Radio 2 to write an original campfire song for the network.
In 2005, Harmer co-founded PERL (Protecting Escarpment Rural Land), an organization which campaigned to protect the Niagara Escarpment from a proposed gravel development which would see some parts of wilderness near the escarpment removed. To support the organization, she and her acoustic band embarked on a tour of the escarpment, hiking the Bruce Trail and performing at theatres and community halls in towns along the way. A documentary DVD of this tour was released in 2006 as Escarpment Blues. In October 2012, PERL won their case against the development.
|Songs for Clem||
|You Were Here||
|All of Our Names||
|I'm a Mountain||
|Oh Little Fire||
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|2000||"Basement Apartment"||You Were Here|
|2001||"Don't Get Your Back Up"|
|2003||"Silver Road"||Men with Brooms|
|2004||"Almost"||All of Our Names|
|2005||"I Am Aglow"||I'm a Mountain|
|2010||"Captive"||Oh Little Fire|
- Peter E. Kelly, Douglas W. Larson, Sarah Harmer, The Last Stand : A Journey Through the Ancient Cliff-Face Forest of the Niagara Escarpment, Natural Heritage Books, 2007, ISBN 978-1-897045-19-0 (paperback).
- Spalding, Derek (13 January 2011). "Indie icon focuses on the planet". Nanaimo Daily News. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
- Jennings, Nicholas (5 March 2001). "Sarah Harmer - Harmer's Charm". Maclean's. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
- "Sarah Harmer: Credits". Allmusic. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
- "A New Wind", Words and Music, Summer 2010
- "Sarah Harmer: from National Parks to Massey Hall". CBC Radio 2, July 14, 2011.
- "Sarah Harmer's new campfire song: Hear (and play) it now!". CBC Radio 2, July 15, 2011.
- Richmond, Vanessa. "Placing Sarah Harmer". The Tyee. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
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