Born along the Niagara River in rural Youngstown, NY, Zack Joseph was immersed in a meld of history and cultures from an early age. As a child, he picked up the cello and engrossed himself in his practice. Joseph was 16 when he was introduced to folk music by his great aunt who invited him over to “jam” and improvise while she performed traditional Americana tunes. It wasn’t long before most of Joseph’s weekends were spent on his aunt’s farm devouring folk traditions, learning how to play multiple instruments, discovering the joys of vocal harmony, and developing his own unique singing style.
Falling in love with early country, rock&roll, and 60s folk lyrical styles, he taught himself the “Carter Scratch” on guitar and started writing his own music. Anything and everything “Americana” became his new obsession and way of life. All the while, Joseph continued to play cello, going on to study cello performance at SUNY Fredonia. Realizing that the conservatory approach conflicted with his own, Joseph shifted his major to music business and his focus on songwriting, but it would still be a few years before he packed up his car on a whim bound for Nashville.
Once in Nashville, Joseph jumped between serving and bartending jobs while raising the funds needed to record his first studio album, All In Time(2014). The project introduced Joseph as a sonically-rich, melodically savvy musician who pays subtle homage to times past in his songwriting, and yet remains utterly in touch with the nuances of contemporary Americana and folk. After the release, Joseph again packed up his car and independently toured for the next several years as he continued to work intermittently when back in Nashville.
Already feeling the financial and mental weight of being an independent artist, it was during this time that Joseph navigated another life pivot: his struggle to understand his own sexuality. Torn between rights and wrongs, and the faith he was raised with, Joseph spiraled. Unfulfilled and feeling astray on his musical and life paths alike, he decided to stop performing and creating music for the next several years to come. “I kept feeling like I was drowning and failing, and I didn’t know how to get out of that hole,” explains Joesph. “It was like everything I had planned, had dreamed, and had thought was important for being a ‘good’ human being was turned upside down.”
After a three year musical hiatus and a lifetime of soul searching, Joseph returned to music with a stronger sense of identity within himself and the music community. A reflection of authenticity and the freedom that comes with it, his latest album, Keeping Me Sane(2021), is a reflection on life, love and the never-ending search for happiness. It’s the product of navigating relationships, embracing sexuality, and learning acceptance — an illumination of the human condition that leaves us hopeful for more. As Joseph says, “This music is about feeling acceptance, regardless of your walk of life, and knowing that everything will be okay. The process of creating this album was just that for me.” The result is collection of songs that embrace every inch of life, and capture Joseph’s realizations along the way. “I don’t have it all figured out in any sense, but I’ve stayed true to myself and am ready for what comes next.” Keeping Me Sane reminds us all to embrace the freedom in letting go.
In between tours and recording sessions, Joseph spends his time writing, gardening, restoring antiques, running the house concert venue “Spirit Haus,” and spending time with his friends.
Two new singles are set to release in Spring 2022 with a stronger emphasis on Joseph’s musical roots, followed by steady touring with and without his full band.