Two gifted singers, guitarists, and songwriters team up to create Striking Matches, a Nashville-based duo whose music is a fresh combination of country, blues, rock, and pop, with an approach that respects roots music traditions while making room for new musical thinking.
Striking Matches were formed in 2007 by Justin Davis and Sarah Zimmermann; Davis was born and raised near Atlanta, Georgia, by parents whose tastes leaned to classic rhythm & blues, particularly Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Otis Redding. Zimmermann, meanwhile, grew up just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where her father repaired musical instruments and encouraged his daughter in her musical interests as she began studying clarinet and violin in grade school. Zimmermann picked up the guitar when she was in fourth grade, and was powerfully influenced by the Dixie Chicks, whose success and musical skills convinced her women could succeed in the male-dominated music business. In 2007, Davis and Zimmermann were both new students at Nashville's Belmont University, and met while taking a guitar class; the professor randomly paired up students, and Davis was suitably impressed with Zimmermann's talents as a blues soloist. The two continued to work as a duo, and before long they were writing songs together; they made their performing debut at the prestigious local club the Bluebird Cafe. In 2012, Striking Matches made their recording debut with a self-released five-song EP that showcased their gifts as songwriters, vocalists, and instrumentalists. That same year, noted songwriter and producer T-Bone Burnett was hired to help coordinate the music for an upcoming television series set in Music City, appropriately titled Nashville. Burnett and his team were impressed with Striking Matches, enough so that eight of their songs were used on the hit show, creating a powerful buzz for the duo both in the United States and the United Kingdom. They also won a loyal following in their adopted hometown, making regular appearances on the Grand Ol' Opry's weekly broadcasts. When noted indie label I.R.S. Records was revived and opened a Nashville office, Striking Matches were one of the first acts they signed, and the duo's first full-length album, Nothing But the Silence, produced by T-Bone Burnett, was released in March 2015. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi