Before earning comparisons to Iron & Wine and Sufjan Stevens with his hushed, eclectic folk music, singer/songwriter William Fitzsimmons honed his skills in Pennsylvania. Born in Pittsburgh to two blind parents, both of whom were living-room musicians, he began playing piano and trombone in elementary school and taught himself guitar as a junior high student. Over time, he also learned to play banjo, melodica, ukulele, and mandolin. While pursuing a master's degree at Geneva College, Fitzsimmons began tracking some of his songs on home recording equipment. These self-produced recordings were compiled together and released as 2005's Until When We Are Ghosts, a strong debut album that appeared during Fitzsimmons' time working as a mental health therapist.
Over time, Fitzsimmons began to attract a following on MySpace. Of course, it didn't hurt that his songs started showing up on various television soundtracks, too, including Grey's Anatomy, General Hospital, Life of Ryan, and Army Wives. A second self-produced album, Goodnight, appeared in 2006, influenced heavily by his parents' divorce during his childhood. By this point, Fitzsimmons had settled on a distinct sound: a gentle mixture of folk-rock and electronica applied to carefully written (and often autobiographical) songs that, at their best, delivered a quiet emotional punch. He carried the theme of divorce into his first official studio album, The Sparrow and the Crow, which dealt with a recent split with his wife. Released in 2010, Derivatives lightened things up by focusing on electronica remixes of his past work (as well as a cover of Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl"), and 2011's Gold in the Shadow found Fitzsimmons confronting his demons with help from guest artists like Julia Stone. ~ Steve Leggett & Andrew Leahey, Rovi