Singer and songwriter Sam Beam became one of the leading voices of the indie folk scene in the 2000s with his work under the name Iron and Wine. Beam was born in Columbia, South Carolina on July 26, 1974; his mother was a schoolteacher and his father worked in land management. Beam received a B.A. in art from Virginia Commonwealth University, and went on to earn a Master of Fine Art in film from Florida State University. Beam was teaching filmmaking and cinematography in Miami when a friend lent him a four-track cassette machine, and he began recording songs he'd been writing for several years. Beam began passing cassettes of his work to his friends, including one to Michael Bridwell, brother of Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses. Bridwell liked it enough to give a copy to music writer and 'zine publisher Mike McGonigal. In 2000, McGonigal included Beam's song "Dead Man's Will" on a CD compilation included with the first issue of his magazine Yeti. Beam used the name Iron and Wine for the track, taken from an antique bottle of "Beef, Iron & Wine Tonic" he found while searching for props for a film. After Iron and Wine began earning a buzz in the indie folk underground, Beam's music came to the attention of Jonathan Poneman of Sub Pop Records. Poneman signed Iron and Wine to his label, and Beam's self-recorded debut, The Creek Drank the Cradle, was released in 2002.
The Creek Drank the Cradle earned rave reviews, and Beam cut two more albums for Sub Pop, 2004's Our Endless Numbered Days and 2007's The Shepherd's Dog. Both albums boasted cleaner production and a stronger pop and rock undertow as Beam expanded his creative vision. During this period, Beam also appeared on albums by the Postal Service and the Six Parts Seven. And in 2005, Iron and Wine recorded a collaborative EP with the outstanding indie rock band Calexico, In the Reins. In 2008, Iron and Wine was embraced by a new audience when the song "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" appeared on the soundtrack of the hit film Twilight. (Iron and Wine had previously been heard on the television show Friday Night Lights and in Todd Haynes' film about Bob Dylan, I'm Not There.) The 2009 collection Around the Well collected various single sides, compilation contributions, and rarities from the Iron and Wine catalog. In 2011, Beam left Sub Pop Records for Warner Bros., and Iron and Wine's Kiss Each Other Clean, released that year, became his first major-label project. For 2013's Ghost on Ghost, Iron and Wine was bumped from Warner Bros. to the label's artist-friendly Nonesuch imprint. In 2015, Iron and Wine teamed up with Ben Bridwell for a collaborative album of covers, Sing into My Mouth. The following year, Beam released another tandem album, this time with singer and guitarist Jesca Hoop. For Love Letter for Fire, Beam used his own name rather than Iron and Wine, with Sub Pop releasing the album in April 2016. ~ Mark Deming