Artist Biography by John BushAlternative 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.