The Info List - Duncan Sheik

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", earning a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. He later expanded to compositions for motion pictures and the Broadway stage, such as the successful musical, Spring Awakening, where he won multiple Tonys and a Grammy. Sheik practices Nichiren Buddhism and is a member of the US branch of the worldwide Buddhist association Soka Gakkai International.[1]

Early life

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, Sheik studied semiotics at Brown University,[2] 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.


Early Career

In 1996, Sheik released his self-titled debut album, which was certified Gold and spawned the #16 peaking hit single, "Barely Breathing", which itself remained on the Billboard Hot 100 for a record-setting 55 consecutive weeks. The popular track also enjoyed Top 20 success on Adult Contemporary radio and topped the Adult Top 40 charts. The song garnered a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

In 1998, Sheik released Humming, an experimental follow-up with string arrangements.

Later career

In 2001, Sheik released Phantom Moon, a Nick Drake-influenced album which was a collaboration with poet and writer Steven Sater.

In 2002, Sheik released Daylight, a brighter, more modern-sounding album which included the singles, "On A High" and "Half-Life".

In 2006, Sheik released White Limousine, an album which included companion software on a DVD-ROM to remix individual tracks.

In 2008, Sheik was a judge at the 7th annual Independent Music Awards.

In 2009, Sheik released Whisper House, a concept album which provided the score for the musical of the same name.[3]

In 2011, Sheik released Covers 80's, which included covers of popular 1980s songs. Concert dates in support of the album were later canceled due to Sheik seeking treatment for alcohol addiction.[4] In a message to fans in his tumblr blog,[5] Sheik noted that he had entered a treatment center on the same day his latest album was released and had told his staff, "My record is coming out and I’m checking in." A remixed version of the album was released the following year.[6]

In addition, Sheik released a new studio album, titled Legerdemain, in October of this year.[7]

Currently, Sheik is composing the music for a feature-film adaptation of Spring Awakening, an adaptation almost a decade in the making.[8]


In 2004, Sheik composed the score for A Home at the End of the World, and, later, composed the score for Through the Fire.[9]

In 2012, Sheik wrote Alice By Heart, an adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, along with collaborator Sater. Directed by Jessie Nelson with musical direction by Lance Horne, the musical was workshopped at the Royal National Theatre and commissioned by the National Theatre Connections.[10]


In 2002, Sheik composed original music for the New York Shakespeare Festival production, Twelfth Night.[11]

In 2004, Sheik composed the score for A Home at the End of the World, and, later, composed the score for Through the Fire.[12]

In 2006, Sheik wrote the music for Spring Awakening, another collaboration with Sater. Written over a period of eight years, the musical, which premiered off-Broadway in New York during the summer, opened on Broadway to critical acclaim later in the fall. Based on the controversial German expressionist play, The Awakening of Spring by Frank Wedekind, the musical won Tony Awards for "Best Orchestration" and "Best Original Score" (Music), as well as "Best Musical". The original cast recording album received the Grammy Award in 2008 for "Best Musical Show Album", and the guitar that Sheik used to compose songs for the Spring Awakening is currently on display at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.[13]

In 2013, Sheik wrote the music and lyrics to the musical adaptation of American Psycho,[14] which opened at the Almeida Theatre in London, and was later staged on Broadway in 2016.[15] That same year, Sheik wrote the music for the musical adaptation of the novel Because of Winn-Dixie, which opened at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.[16] Dixie was a collaboration with director John Tartaglia and Nell Benjamin, who wrote the book and lyrics. The star is an Irish wolfhound trained and provided by William Berloni Theatrical Animals, Inc. If the show moves to Broadway, it will be the first play with a dog as the lead.

In 2015, Sheik wrote the musical thriller Noir along with collaborator Kyle Jarrow, which premiered as part of New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse season. Inspired by live radio plays and classic film noir, the musical was directed by Rachel Chavkin.[17]

Other appearances

In 1998, Sheik recorded "Embraceable You" for Red Hot + Rhapsody, a George Gershwin tribute to increase AIDS awareness, and also recorded "Songbird" for another tribute, Legacy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. In 1999, Sheik produced singer/songwriter Micah Green's debut album,[18] as well as his 2012 follow-up.[19]

In 2000, Sheik wrote the foreword to The Way of Youth: Buddhist Common Sense for Handling Life's Questions, by Soka Gakkai International leader Daisaku Ikeda. Sheik also sang a duet with singer Howard Jones on Jones' single Someone You Need.

In 2006, Sheik recorded the song, "A Purple Trail", for Other Songs and Dances, Vol. 1. In 2008, Sheik participated in Songs for Tibet: The Art of Peace, an initiative to support Tibet, Dalai Lama and Tenzin Gyatso.[20]



Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
US Heat
1996 Duncan Sheik
  • Release date: June 1996
  • Label: Atlantic
83 1
1998 Humming
  • Release date: October 6, 1998
  • Label: Atlantic
2001 Phantom Moon
  • Release date: February 27, 2001
  • Label: Nonesuch
2002 Daylight
  • Release date: August 22, 2002
  • Label: Atlantic
2006 White Limousine
  • Release date: January 26, 2006
  • Label: Zoë
2009 Whisper House
  • Release date: January 27, 2009
  • Label: RCA Victor
2011 Covers 80's
  • Release date: June 7, 2011
  • Label: Sneaky
2015 Legerdemain
  • Release date: October 9, 2015
  • Label:
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Year Single Peak chart positions Album
US Adult
US Dance
US Pop
1996 "Barely Breathing" 12 16 19 2 10 Duncan Sheik
1997 "She Runs Away" 24
"Reasons for Living" 3
1998 "Wishful Thinking" 103 Great Expectations (soundtrack)
"Bite Your Tongue" Humming
1999 "That Says It All"
2001 "A Mirror in the Heart" Phantom Moon
2003 "On a High" 21 1 Daylight
2006 "White Limousine" White Limousine
"The Dawn's Request"
2009 "Earthbound Starlight" Whisper House
"Play Your Part"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart



Film and television

  • "View from the Other Side", Friends
  • "A Body Goes Down", Jeff Buckley: Goodbye and Hello
  • "Now or Never", Boys and Girls
  • "Mama Who Bore Me", 90210
  • "Barely Breathing", Glee
  • "Barely Breathing", Girls

Personal life

Since 2011, Sheik has been in a relationship with model Nora Ariffin, the pair having previously dated in 1999.[33]

See also


  1. ^ "SGI-USA Arts Division Conference". Soka Gakkai International News. February 8, 2008. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. 
  2. ^ Loveline, 1996-09-08.
  3. ^ "''Playbill'' article". Playbill.com. 2009-01-08. Archived from the original on 2009-04-29. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  4. ^ Miller, Michael H. "Duncan Sheik Cancels Tour Dates to Deal with Alcohol-Related Addiction The New York Observer". Observer.com. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  5. ^ Peter Vidani. "Duncan Sheik News Archive (Message + Song From Duncan)". Dsnews.tumblr.com. Archived from the original on 2016-01-07. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  6. ^ Kevin Thomas (2012-11-30). "Duncan, chic". Dallasvoice.com. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  7. ^ Ann Powers (2014-10-16). "Hear Two Songs From Duncan Sheik's Next Album : The Record". Npr.org. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  8. ^ Pat Cerasaro. "BWW EXCLUSIVE SCOOP: Duncan Sheik Teases SPRING AWAKENING Movie; Filming in Spring 2013 & New Cast?". Broadwayworld.com. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  9. ^ [1] Archived April 12, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik Workshopping New "Alice" Musical at London's National Theatre". Playbill.com. 2011-05-24. Archived from the original on 2011-09-15. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  11. ^ Finn, Robin (July 2, 2002). "PUBLIC LIVES; Decisions, Decisions. Name Recognition or Nirvana?". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ [2] Archived April 12, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "Hidden Broadway Treasures Revealed". Broadway.TV. Archived from the original on 2011-09-23. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  14. ^ Gordon Cox (2010-02-02). "'American Psycho' musical takes shape". Variety. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  15. ^ "In Case You Missed It: Duncan Sheik Is Having a Busy Season and Do Critics Have Faith in Amazing Grace?". Playbill.com. 2015-07-17. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  16. ^ "Because of Winn Dixie, New Musical by Duncan Sheik and Nell Benjamin, Will Premiere in Arkansas; John Tartaglia Directs". Playbill.com. 2013-07-18. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  17. ^ "Exclusive: Duncan Sheik on His New Show Noir, American Psycho Casting & Spring Awakening Film's Delay Broadway Buzz". Broadway.com. 2015-07-22. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  18. ^ "The Top 100 Artists on ARTISTdirect - Pop, Rock & Hip Hop Music Styles - Free Music Download, Music Video, MP3 music and Music CD". Artistdirect.com. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  19. ^ "Duncan Sheik produced Micah Green's latest album I Know, I Know, I Know, due out Tuesday August 28th via MRI/Sneaky Records « Duncan Sheik Duncan Sheik - Official Website". Duncansheik.com. 2012-08-28. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  20. ^ [3] Archived July 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ "Duncan Sheik Album & Song Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  22. ^ "allmusic ((( Duncan Sheik > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Allmusic. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  23. ^ "RIAA - Gold & Platinum - August 10, 2014: Duncan Sheik certified albums". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  25. ^ "Duncan Sheik Album & Song Chart History - Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved March 26, 2011. 
  26. ^ "Duncan Sheik Album & Song Chart History - Adult Contemporary". Billboard. Retrieved March 26, 2011. 
  27. ^ "Duncan Sheik Album & Song Chart History - Adult Pop Songs". Billboard. Retrieved March 26, 2011. 
  28. ^ "Duncan Sheik Album & Song Chart History - Dance/Club Play Songs". Billboard. Retrieved March 26, 2011. 
  29. ^ "Duncan Sheik Album & Song Chart History - Pop Songs". Billboard. Retrieved March 26, 2011. 
  30. ^ "Music from "Harvest" Film, With a Score by Duncan Sheik-David Poe, Due May 3". Playbill.com. 2011-04-27. Archived from the original on 2013-12-30. Retrieved 2015-12-04. 
  31. ^ "Duncan Sheik and Robert Aguirre-Sacasa Will Make American Psycho Sing". Playbill.com. 2010-02-02. Archived from the original on 2012-10-13. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  32. ^ "Shakespeare Theatre Company - The Taming of the Shrew - Shakespeare Theatre Company". www.shakespearetheatre.org. 

External links