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Sam Barsh Biography Picture

Sam Barsh is a multi-platinum songwriter, producer and keyboardist who has written over 175 commercially released songs, and appeared on over 100 recordings both as a producer and keyboardist, including 3 GRAMMY wins, 4 Billboard #1 albums, and over 10 million units sold worldwide. He co-wrote the smash Aloe Blacc song "The Man", which sold 4 million singles worldwide and reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart and #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. His work as a songwriter and keyboardist on Kendrick Lamar’s Platinum-certified album “To Pimp A Butterfly” garnered 3 GRAMMY Awards and a #1 spot on the Billboard 200. Barsh co-wrote Logic's Gold-certified single "Black Spiderman," and his work on Anderson .Paak’s groundbreaking album “Malibu,” BJ the Chicago Kid’s “In My Mind,” Ledisi’s “Let Love Rule” and the soundtrack to the Oscar-winning film "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" have garnered an additional 4 GRAMMY Nominations.


Described as "phenomenally talented" by Jazz Times and a "Pianist with a gift for groove" by the New York Times, Barsh's career began in the jazz world. Born in Chicago and raised in Wilmette, IL, Barsh started performing professionally at the age of 15. As a student at New Trier High School, he was a member of the National High School Grammy Combo, a recipient of the Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Fellowship, 2-time top pianist in the Illinois All-State Jazz Combo, and received a Downbeat Magazine Student Award for Best Jazz Soloist. He attended William Paterson University on a full scholarship, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude in Jazz Studies.


Upon moving to Brooklyn, Barsh immersed himself in the New York jazz scene, and joined the bands of Lonnie Plaxico and Avishai Cohen. From 2003-2006, Cohen's trio featuring Barsh on piano and Mark Guiliana on drums toured extensively, and recorded 3 albums and the "Live at the Blue Note" DVD. He has continued to work as a jazz pianist throughout his career, performing with Cassandra Wilson, Joel Frahm, Gregory Porter, Kamasi Washington, Zach Brock, Wallace Roney, Robin McKelle and many others. Also well-versed in the Hammond B-3, Barsh has played organ in the bands of Roy Hargrove, Jane Monheit, Rez Abbasi and Robin Eubanks.


After the 2007 release of his solo instrumental album "I Forgot What You Taught Me," Barsh began branching out into other genres, touring with Emily King and The Brand New Heavies and producing and writing songs for a variety of independent projects. In 2009, Barsh and singer-songwriter Jesse Palter founded the electronic pop duo Palter Ego. The group went on to release 2 EPs and 2 full-length albums, headline the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, Israel, and garner a number of placements in television and commercials. Seeking to focus on his songwriting and production work more seriously, Barsh moved from New York to Los Angeles in 2011.


Once in LA, Barsh quickly became an in-demand keyboardist, joining the house bands of Hollywood hotspots the Sayers Club and Brenna Whitaker's Jazz Night at the W Hollywood. He continued writing and producing, garnering early placements with Norah Jones' side project "White on Rice," Robin McKelle and rappers Wax and Kosha Dillz. A few months after his arrival, he was introduced to the producer DJ Khalil by multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Daniel Seeff. The three of them have gone on to work extensively together, co-writing the Aloe Blacc smash "The Man," "Heart Don't Stand a Chance" and "Your Prime" with Anderson .Paak, and dozens of other songs with artists including A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, Wiz Khalifa, Logic, Rick Ross, Logic, Joey Bada$$, Andra Day, Ty Dolla $ign, Big K.R.I.T., Ledisi, Samm Henshaw and SiR.


Barsh worked alongside producer Rahki on Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp a Butterfly" album, playing on the 2x GRAMMY-winning "i" and co-writing and playing on "Institutionalized". In addition to his hip-hop and r&b work, Barsh branched out into the pop world, collaborating with producer Royal Z on songs for Heart, Macy Gray, Aubrey O'Day and "The Birth of a Nation" Soundtrack. In 2017, Barsh co-wrote Logic's "Black Spiderman," which won the "Best Fight Against the System" Award at the MTV VMAs and was certified Gold by the RIAA.


As the 2010s came to a close, Barsh's output remained strong. He co-wrote and played on "Rise," the central theme song in the Epix show "Godfather of Harlem" starring Forest Whitaker, "Elevate," the end-title to the Oscar-winning feature "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," and "Collide," the lead single from Melina Matsoukas' film "Queen and Slim." In 2019, Barsh produced 26 commercially released tracks, including Amber Liu's "Curiousity" which reached #1 in China, "The Nine," a commissioned album by the Skirball Center for the "Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg" exhibit, and a "Spotify Singles" collaboration with The Deli, which topped 10 million streams.


Outside the studio, Barsh headlined the 2018 Xi'an International Music Festival in China and has been performing club engagements with his trio, and was musical director for both Justin Tranter's 2018 GLAAD Spirit Day Concert and Lupe Fiasco's 2019 live front-to-back performance of his classic "Food And Liquor" album at the Novo Theater in Los Angeles.


Barsh has worked with a wide range of artists across many genres, including: Amber Liu, A$AP Ferg, A$AP Rocky, Babyface, Brenna Whitaker, Bruno Mars, Bobby McFerrin, Boyz II Men, Branford Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson, Common, David Foster, Debbie Friedman, Emily King, Fabrizio Sotti, Fred Wesley, Gene Simmons, Gregory Porter, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jane Monheit, Justin Tranter, Keyon Harrold, Kiran Ahluwalia, Lonnie Plaxico, Mark Ballas, Mark Guiliana, Maurice Brown, Mino Cinelu, Natalie Cole, Natasha Bedingfield, Norah Jones, Poo Bear, Quadron, Ravi Coltrane, Rez Abbasi, Robin Eubanks, Roy Hargrove, Sid Sriram, Snarky Puppy, Stevie Wonder, The Brand New Heavies, Tom Jones, Wallace Roney, and Zach Brock.