When Sadie Gustafson-Zook was 9 months old and mid-diaper change, she surprised her mother by humming Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and she hasn’t stopped singing since. Today as a singer, fiddle and guitar player and songwriter from Goshen, Indiana, Sadie continues the tradition of using her sweet voice to address less-than-sweet circumstances. In her writing, her pacifying voice balances with blunt lyrics to create cheerful yet honest music.
Through Sadie’s musical odyssey (and Honda Odyssey), she has been exposed to old time fiddle tunes and storytelling folk singers with her family’s band (Gustafson-Zook Family Band), classical opera and musical theater at school, and indie folk along with a heavy dose of 70’s pop during car rides. Her genre is a jumble of these influences, leaning in the direction of offbeat folk-pop.
Sadie’s most recent project is a song cycle entitled “A Lot More Time.” A mixture of swing guitar chords, looped fiddle tracks, and heartfelt vocals, Sadie explores the perils of daily living, longing to be understood, and being far from home. This cycle was written in the spring of 2016 when Sadie was living in Peru, and was heavily inspired by a bossa nova book that Sadie bought in a hole-in-the-wall music store, curiously positioned next to a sex shop in Lima, Peru.
Sadie’s Summer 2016 tour will incorporate these songs as she collaborates with acoustic string trio: Warren, Flick, Setiawan. Combining the musical excellence of bassist Jacob Warren, fiddler Grant Flick, and jazz mandolinist Ethan Setiawan with Sadie’s pure vocals and catchy songwriting, the project is sure to be a goldmine of technical triumphs, all the feels and musical bliss. Ethan and Sadie are also frequent collaborators, with Ethan adding rhythmic and nuanced mandolin to Sadie’s gentle ballads. The two performed together throughout 2014-2016 as a part of the Theory Expats (Gustafson-Zook on vocals and fiddle, Ethan Setiawan on mandolin and Andrew Pauls on vocals, guitar and banjo).
Sadie has enjoyed her fair share of small town fame. In 2015 she sang a duet with Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion. Later that year the Theory Expats were featured performers at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas. She has also shared the stage with Americana roots band, The Steel Wheels. Her songwriting hasn’t gone unnoticed either, winning the 2011 Newsong Showcase with her original, “Unless I Loved,” as well as the Anabaptist Songwriting Competition with her hymn, “You are the Love.” Her recordings include the 2015 Theory Expat EP, What a Way to Start Your Day as well as her 2010 solo album Mélange.