Duncan Sheik was born in Montclair, New Jersey, United States on November 18, 1969.
Father's name: John Sheik
Mother's name: Deborah Sheik
Race or Ethnicity: White
Duncan Sheik (born November 18, 1969) is an American singer-songwriter and composer. Initially finding success as a singer, most notably for his 1996 debut single "Barely Breathing", he later expanded to compositions for motion pictures and the Broadway stage, such as the successful musical, Spring Awakening. Sheik practices Nichiren Buddhism and is a member of the US branch of the worldwide Buddhist association Soka Gakkai International. After being raised by both his parents in Montclair, New Jersey and his grandparents in Hilton Head, South Carolina (of whom his Juilliard-trained grandmother taught him piano), and after graduating from Phillips Academy, Andover in 1988, Duncan Sheik studied semiotics at Brown University, and moved to Los Angeles. Playing for other artists, including Liz and Lisa (with Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell), Sheik also played on His Boy Elroy's 1993 album through his connections from fellow Brown alum, Tracee Ellis Ross. He is the half brother of Broadway actress Kacie Sheik. In 1996, Sheik released his self-titled debut album, which was certified Gold and spawned the hit single, "Barely Breathing", which itself remained on the Billboard Hot 100 for a record-setting 55 straight weeks, enjoying Top 20 success on Adult Contemporary radio and topping the Adult Top 40 charts. The song also garnered a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. In 1998, Sheik released Humming, an experimental follow-up with meticulous string arrangements.
High School: Phillips Academy Andover
University: Semiotics, Brown University
Alternative singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik premiered in mid-1996 when Atlantic released his self-titled debut album. With an appearance on the soundtrack to the TV hit ER, Sheik became somewhat well known in alternative circles. Born in 1970, Duncan Sheik grew up in South Carolina but spent many of his early years living with his grandparents in New Jersey. Inspired to play the piano while there, he later moved to electric guitar and performed in bands throughout high school. While studying at Brown University, he played with Lisa Loeb, but began shopping his own demo tape around soon after graduation. Later, he appeared with His Boy Elroy on a 1993 album for Epic, and spent several years writing songs before he signed a solo deal with Atlantic. With Rupert Hine in the producer's chair, Sheik recorded his debut album and released it in June 1996. By the end of the year, "Barely Breathing" had become a modest hit, and he resurfaced in 1998 with Humming. For Phantom Moon, Sheik paired up with dramatist/poet Steve Sater. This particular record, which appeared in early 2001, showcased a more orchestral construction from Sheik. The next year, Sheik continued with these experimental orchestrations -- but with his signature rock style, too -- for Daylight. He and Sater also prepared for the 2003 opening of their musical, Spring Awakening. White Limousine was released in 2006.White Limousine didn't chart in the U.S. but Sheik was already pouring himself into the launch of Spring Awakening, a musical he was writing with Sater. Spring Awakening turned into a high-water mark for Sheik: the original cast album won a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album in 2008 and the production won two Tonys, including Best Original Score (Music). In 2009, Sheik released Whisper House, an album that offered his own version of highlights from Spring Awakening; it reached 181 on the Billboard Top 200. Sheik then released a collection of covers called Covers 80s in 2011 which he was intending to support with a tour, but as the album was released, he entered rehab for alcohol-related addiction. Soon, he was back at work, collaborating with Roberto Aguirre on a musical adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho and working once again with Steve Sater, this time on a musical reworking of Alice in Wonderland called Alice by Heart. As he concentrated on this theatrical work, Covers 80s Remixed -- an electronic-heavy remix of his entire 2011 LP -- appeared in the fall of 2012.
Tony Award for Best Original Score, Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical, Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music, Tony Award for Best Orchestrations, Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Score, Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Broadway Musical.
I actually think sadness and darkness can be very beautiful and healing.
So, once I've written a song, you know, I'm pretty happy with what the song is on its own terms.
Because of my Buddhist practice, I'm never lacking for inspiration.
It's inevitable your environment will influence what you do.
A real foolproof way to do it is play your stuff by hook or by crook and build up a grass roots following.
But I can't really say there is too much modern music that I'm blown away by at this moment.
I got a publishing deal with BMG, they were supportive, and some money to record demos.
I think in a way I was probably completely naive about what it takes to make something become a hit.