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Born in South Carolina on July 26, 1974, Samuel Ervin Beam—otherwise known by his alias 'Iron & Wine'—is an American songwriter and musician. He is predominantly known for his work as an independent folk musician, of which he has produced five albums and several EPs under the 'Iron & Wine' name. Beam grew up in the American lake town Chapin, undergoing several occupational changes—with an interest in art, film and painting—before achieving success as a singer-songwriter. Although Beam had always held an interest in acoustic guitar-driven music, his first recording was made only after a four-track was gifted to him by a friend. Upon showing this recording to his friend, it was forwarded and released by the arts journal 'Yeti', launching his career. 'Iron & Wine' is recognised for his gentle and lo-fi sound, often recorded with minimal arrangements and soothing—almost whispered—vocals by Beam. Most instruments are recorded by Beam personally, although each successive album has branched out and incorporated larger orchestrations with guest musicians. Emerging during a period of strong independent folk music in North America, 'Iron & Wine' was signed to the label Sub Pop in 2002, before moving on to several other labels. Although he has experienced limited chart success with an evolving homegrown sound, Beam's fourth album, 'Kiss Each Other Clean' (2011), experimented with a more pop driven arrangement. This paid off; the album went to number 2 in the US album charts for rock, alternative and folk album categories, with similarly high placements further afield. 'Iron & Wine' consistently garners significant critical appraisal, having been awarded numerous awards and titles by journalists, including an Americana album of the year in 2008 (PLUG Awards) for 'The Shepherd's Dog' (2007). Not content releasing music through his own channels, 'Iron & Wine' frequently collaborates with other musicians—including Ben Bridwell, Jesca Hoop and the rock band Calexico—and is regularly featured in movie soundtracks.