February 3, 1980
New York City, United States
Music Director |
Sarah Lewitinn (born February 3, 1980), also known by her nickname Ultragrrrl, is an Egyptian-American record producer, music critic, DJ, blogger, and music director for the Canadian fashion brand, Aritzia. She began her career as an assistant editor at Spin Magazine, and soon helped champion rock bands like My Chemical Romance and The Killers, which led to her starting her own record label, Stolen Transmission. In 2006, New York magazine named Lewitinn as one of the most "influential people in music", citing that "Like it or not, she has more power than any print music critic.".
Born in New York City to Egyptian-Jewish parents, Lewitinn was raised and educated in Tenafly, New Jersey. She began her career as a teenager writing for the AOL-based ABC Kidz site before interning at Spin Magazine. It was at that time she received the moniker of "Ultragrrrl", by which she continues to be known. After briefly working at the defunct Kurt Andersen-run Inside.com in 1999, Lewitinn was hired as an assistant to Michael Hirschorn at VH1. Lewitinn graduated with a degree in Advertising and Marketing from Fashion Institute of Technology in 2001.
In 2002, she was the first manager for both rock bands stellastarr* and My Chemical Romance, both prior to their first major record deals. Her blog, Ultragrrrl.com (launched in July 2003), further established her as a taste-maker in the New York indie rock scene, as did her early championing of the rock band The Killers before they were signed to Island Def Jam. She returned to Spin several months later, this time as an assistant editor with her own column. In 2005, Lewitinn quit Spin to start her own record label, Stolen Transmission in partnership with Island Def Jam and Rob Stevenson, the Island Def Jam A&R executive responsible for signing The Killers as well as Fall Out Boy, Thrice, and The Bravery. Bands which were signed or had releases by Stolen Transmission include The Oohlas, The Horrors, PlayRadioPlay!, Monty Are I, Permanent ME, Schoolyard Heroes, The Photo Atlas, Innerpartysystem, and Bright Light Fever. Though Stolen Transmission severed its official relationship with Island Def Jam in December 2007, Lewitinn edited IDJ's parent company Universal Music Group's short-lived website, Dance Hall.
In January 2008, Lewitinn, along with Stevenson, launched For The Win! Media, an Internet marketing company focused on promoting bands and Web sites. Clients have included Pet Shop Boys, Lady Sovereign, The Verve and The Futureheads as well as the film "Anvil! The Story of Anvil". However, in August 2008, Stevenson was named president of EMI's Virgin US label. In November 2008, Lewitinn became a featured presenter and on-air talent for FUSE's show "Fuse On Tour" where she presents "The Ultragrrrl Report". Lewitinn left for The Win! Media in 2009 and is now a member of the Digital Strategy Team at the public relations firm Edelman. Sarah provided a lot of smart counsel at Edelman but she was often criticized for throwing around the F bomb and not being "office trained"
Lewitinn is also a DJ and, along with New York-based publicist Karen Ruttner, threw a weekly party also called "Stolen Transmission" at various locations on Manhattan's Lower East Side, including Pete Wentz's bar, Angels & Kings. The Stolen Transmission party won two Paper Magazine Nightlife Awards for People's Choice Best Party in 2005 and 2006 and Lewitinn herself won People's Choice for Best Deejay those two years as well. In October 2009, Lewitinn went on tour as the backing DJ for Grammy-nominated R&B singer-songwriter Melanie Fiona. Lewitinn also joined the 9th annual Independent Music Awards judging panel to assist independent musicians' careers.
Lewitinn has published two books, both released by Simon Spotlight, a division of Simon & Schuster. Her first was "The Pocket DJ", a guide to "building the best music library", divided into "Essential Genres" the best music of certain eras and genres, "Essential Artists" a list of musicians who are important to pop culture or have "a profound influence on music" including such diverse artists as Eminem, The Beatles, Nirvana, Madonna, Björk and Queen, "Celebrity Playlists", recommended music from DJs, musicians and others and "Other Playlists", a list of various situations with recommended songs for them, ranging from pool parties to playlists for going back to school. Her second book, "Pocket Karaoke" featured karaoke song lists, including those contributed by Simon LeBon of Duran Duran and Mikey Way of My Chemical Romance.
In popular culture
- "The Most Influential People in Music". New York Magazine.
- Anderman, Jaon. "Power Tri: Meet three examples of a new breed of record company talent hunter. In a downsized, downloading industry, they need more than good ears to put out great music.", The Boston Globe, November 5, 2006. Accessed May 28, 2009.
- http://prod1.cmj.com/articles/display_article.php?id=51047542. Retrieved May 30, 2008. Missing or empty
- "Twitter / ultragrrrl: For those asking, I'm part". Twitter.com. 2010-01-19. Retrieved 2014-08-08.
- "Ultragrrrl: I'M GOING ON TOUR!". Ultragrrrl.blogspot.com. 2009-10-18. Retrieved 2014-08-08.
- "2010 Judges". Independent Music Awards. Archived from the original on October 1, 2011. Retrieved 2014-08-08.