Anna Yarbrough

Charleston, USA

On Madness at Sea


Behind the Music

I think that music has the power to deeply communicate things that are not explicitly said. For this project, Ian’s book was the perfect jumping-off point. I read it before listening to any of the audio material. After noting particularly inspiring or disturbing moments, I dug through the field recordings to find material that would not only work well within my musical specialties, but that would also serve to reinforce the stories or mood I was trying to create with each track. Each instrumental started as a short, thirty-second sketch. After that, I fleshed out each track on the piano before writing the string parts and mixing in the field recordings. It all came together naturally, with all instrumental parts feeding off each other.

I found myself disturbed and disappointed by so many of the scenarios in Ian’s book and those feelings translated easily into the music once I sat down to write. While I think that many people are aware of more ‘obvious’ crimes in and on the ocean, there were several scenarios Ian highlighted of which I was unaware. 

I really enjoyed both the opportunity to shed a little more light on the project and the musical challenges that came with it—I was able to experiment in ways I hadn’t before. It was an honor to be able to put music to something that is so in need of greater attention and awareness. I hope to inspire others to dig into the project further and do their own research. 

Anna Yarbrough
About Anna Yarbrough

Anna Yarbrough is a musician, composer, and record label owner based in Charleston, South Carolina. Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Yarbrough moved overseas to Australia and eventually settled in the United States. Her various homes over the years—St. Augustine (FL), Nashville (TN), Paris (France), New York City (NY)— allowed her to expand her musical palette in unexpected ways and her travels across the globe have undoubtedly shaped her sound.

Yarbrough currently works out of her studio in South Carolina. The end of 2019 marked a shift in her creative career. After many years of working on client projects as a session musician, she set out on a new journey to focus intensely on her own creative development as an artist. She is currently working on several new projects set for release in 2021 and beyond.

Previous releases include her debut full-length album “DIVIDED,” her second album, “Softer Sessions” (a collection of solo piano works specifically written for synchronization purposes—licensing exclusive to InStyle Music) and various singles through labels including Sonder House (New York), Lady Blunt (Italy) and Rhodium (New York). Her most recent project, “Sojourn” was released in June of this year.

Yarbrough also creates music for film and TV, and has music signed with various publishers across the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. Placements include “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” (E!), “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” (ABC, CBS) and “The Young and the Restless” (CBS).

The Journalism behind the Music

All music in this project is based on The Outlaw Ocean, a New York Times Best-Selling book by Ian Urbina that chronicles lawlessness at sea around the world. This reporting touches on a diversity of abuses ranging from illegal and overfishing, arms trafficking at sea, human slavery, gun running, intentional dumping, murder of stowaways, thievery of ships and other topics.

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