Barsh was born in Chicago, IL, and began playing piano at the age of 4. He attended New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL and William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey Barsh moved to New York City in 2001 and currently resides in Los Angeles.
From 2003-2006 Barsh was a member of the band of bassist Avishai Cohen, with whom he toured the world extensively. Barsh appears on Cohen's albums At Home and Continuo, and the live album/DVD As Is...Live at the Blue Note.
Between 2008 and 2011, Barsh released three albums as a leader: the independently released Live! and Live Vol. II, and I Forgot What You Taught Me on Razdaz Recordz.
In 2013, Barsh co-wrote The Man for Aloe Blacc's album Lift Your Spirit. The song reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart, and #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was certified platinum by the RIAA, selling over 2.5 million copies in the US.
Barsh played keyboards on the 2014 Kendrick Lamar song i, which received the award for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song at the 2015 Grammy Awards. He composed and played keyboards on the song Institutionalized on Lamar's 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly.
Barsh has performed with Babyface, Bobby McFerrin, Boyz II Men, Branford Marsalis, Bruno Mars, Cassandra Wilson, Common, David Foster, Debbie Friedman, Emily King, Estelle, Fred Wesley, Gene Simmons, Gregory Porter, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Kiran Ahluwalia, Large Professor, Lonnie Plaxico, Mark Ballas, Mino Cinelu, Natasha Bedingfield, Quadron, Ravi Coltrane, Rez Abbasi, Robin Eubanks, Roy Hargrove, Stevie Wonder, The Brand New Heavies, and Tom Jones.
- Song For Tomorrow - Sam Barsh (As Sam Bar-sheshet) (composer, piano, keyboard)
- At Home - Avishai Cohen Trio and Ensemble (composer, fender rhodes, melodica, organ, piano, vocals)
- So Alive - Lonnie Plaxico (piano, keyboards, organ)
- Two Colors - Russ Nolan (piano)
- Zach Brock and the Coffee Achievers - Zach Brock (composer, piano, organ)
- Chemistry - Zach Brock (composer, producer, piano, keyboards)
- Finding Space - Rick Parker Collective (piano, synthesizer)
- The Relatives - Jeff Parker (electric piano)
- Continuo - Avishai Cohen (keyboards, piano, handclapping)
- Live at the Jazz Factory - Zach Brock (piano, composer)
- As Is…Live at the Blue Note - Avishai Cohen (piano, keyboards, melodica)
- As Is…Live at the Blue Note (DVD) - Avishai Cohen (piano, keyboards, melodica)
- Red Gone Wild - Redman (keyboards)
- With You in Mind - Russ Nolan featuring the Kenny Werner Trio (producer)
- I Forgot What You Taught Me - Sam Barsh (composer, producer, keyboards, melodica, piano)
- Live! - Sam Barsh (composer, producer, keyboards)
- The Gambler EP - Beyondo (keyboards)
- Vosotros Presents: The Years - The Years (composer, producer, keyboards, melodica)
- Day One - Meilana Gillard (electric piano)
- Evil Genius - Michael Feinberg (piano, keyboards)
- Hypnotic - Gene Segal (composer, organ, synthesizer)
- In My Own Company - Jennifer Lee Snowden (producer, piano, organ, melodica)
- Inner Dance - Fabrizio Sotti (organ)
- Limited Edition EP - Palter Ego (as Jesse Palter and the Alter Ego) (composer, producer, keyboards)
- Vosotros Presents: The Years Mixtape - The Years (composer, producer, keyboards, melodica)
- By the Numbers - Dustin Edge (keyboard, organ)
- PVD and 8th W1 are: Luz Deville - Lux Deville (keyboards)
- Yvette Rovira - Yvette Rovira (composer)
- Live Vol. II - Sam Barsh (composer, producer, keyboards)
- Sounds Like This! - PVD (keyboards)
- We Write Songs - Palter Ego (as Jesse Palter and the Alter Ego) (composer, producer, keyboards)
- We Are - Elan (keyboards)
- Agápē - Jojo (keyboards)
- Above the Covers - Palter Ego (producer, keyboards, mixing)
- Dealbreaker - White on Rice featuring Norah Jones (composer, producer, keyboards)
- Emuna - Daniel Ori (piano)
- Eviction Notice - Wax (composer, producer, keyboards)
- MoodSwings - Lalana (composer, producer, keyboards)
- Jet Lag EP - Kosha Dillz (composer, producer, keyboards)
- Soulflower - Robin McKelle (composer)
- Violet - Nick Rosen (composer, producer, keyboards, mixer)
- I Lost My Coachella Ticket - Kosha Dillz (composer, producer, keyboards)
- Fairytale Ending - Robin Mckelle (composer)
- Maurice vs. Mobetta - Maurice Brown (composer, producer, vocals, keyboards)
- Between Two Evils - Aubrey O'Day (composer, keyboards, vocal producer)
- The Man - Aloe Blacc (composer, keyboards)
- Id, Ego, Palter Ego - Palter Ego (composer, producer, keyboards)
- Control Yourself - Opolopo Remix - Robin Mckelle (composer)
- Enter the Dynasty - Dontae Winslow and Winslow Dynasty (piano, keyboards)
- Heart of Memphis - Robin Mckelle and the Flytones (composer)
- i - Kendrick Lamar (keyboards)
- Lift Your Spirit - Aloe Blacc (composer, keyboards)
- Modern Vintage - John Robinson and PVD (composer, keyboards)
- The Way - Macy Gray (composer, keyboards)
- The Worst - Van Ike (composer, producer, keyboards, vocals)
- All We Need - Raury (composer, keyboards)
- Kings Never Die - Eminem featuring Gwen Stefani (keyboards)
- Free TC - Ty Dolla Sign - (composer, keyboards)
- Misunderstood - Ethan Tucker (keyboards, organ)
- Southpaw (Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture) - Various Artists (keyboards)
- The Incredible True Story - Logic (composer, keyboards)
- To Pimp a Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar (composer, keyboards)
- Way to Be - Amanda Brecker (piano, keyboards, organ)
- Malibu - Anderson .Paak (composer, keyboards)
- In My Mind - BJ the Chicago Kid (composer, keyboards)
- Always Strive and Prosper - A$AP Ferg (composer, keyboards, trumpet)
- Back To Me - Shana Halligan (composer, keyboards)
Awards and Nominations
Though never an official Grammy Award nominee, Barsh’s work as a composer and keyboardist has received three Grammy Awards out of five nominations.
- Aloe Blacc Lift Your Spirit - Best R&B Album (nominated)
- Kendrick Lamar i - Best Rap Song (won) and Best Rap Performance (won)
- Kendrick Lamar To Pimp A Butterfly - Best Rap Album (won) and Album of the Year (nominated)
He was awarded a 2000 Downbeat Magazine Student Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Soloist.
- "Sam Barsh Biography". www.allmusic.com.
- Wilmette Newspaper Index
- "Jazz Studies & Performance : Alumni". wpunj.edu.
- Pico. "Music Review: Sam Barsh – I Forgot What You Taught Me". Blogcritics.
- "Jazz Reviews: At HomeAvishai Cohen - By Nate Chinen — Jazz Articles". jazztimes.com.
- "BBC - Music - Review of Avishai Cohen - Continuo". bbc.co.uk.
- "Jazz Reviews: As Is … Live at the Blue Note Avishai Cohen - By Steve Greenlee — Jazz Articles". jazztimes.com.
- Mark Saleski. "Music Review: Sam Barsh – I Forgot What You Taught Me". Blogcritics.
- Jim Derogatis review of Jesse Palter and the Alter Ego for Chicago Sun-Times
- "American single certifications – Aloe Blacc – The Man". riaa.com.
- "The Big 9 in 2014: Interscope". hitsdailydouble.com.
- "57th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees". Grammy Awards.
- "Jazz Studies Alumni". wpunj.edu.
- "Sam Barsh: As a lead artist I would have to commit to a lifetime of touring". musicians-corner.net.
- "Nile Rodgers Honored as BMI Icon at the 2015 BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards". www.bmi.com. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
- "Graham Gouldman and Top Songwriters Honored at 2015 BMI London Awards". www.bmi.com. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
- "Ashford And Simpson Songwriter's Award". www.bet.com. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
- "DOWNBEAT AWARDS". ntjazz.com. Retrieved 4 January 2016.