Duncan Scott Sheik is an American composer and singer-songwriter. He was born on November 18, 1969, in Montclair, New Jersey. He then moved to Hilton Head, South Carolina, where he was raised by his single mother and his grandparents. Sheik’s grandmother was a Juilliard-trained pianist, so she taught him how to play at age five, and he soon started picking up the guitar. Throughout his adolescence, Sheik played in bands and kept up his love of music. Not wanting a musical education to influence his style, Sheik attended Brown University and graduated with a degree in semiotics in 1992.
After graduating college, Sheik moved to Los Angeles and began to shop around his demo tape to producers. After spending two miserable years signed to Immortal Records, Sheik was free of that contract when he signed with Atlantic Records in 1994. While at Atlantic Records, in 1996, Sheik released his debut album, which featured “Barely Breathing,” the single that remained on the Billboard Hot 100 for 55 consecutive weeks and helped Sheik made a name for himself. One of the most important singer-songwriters of the 1990s, Sheik continued releasing albums.
A few years later, Sheik met poet and playwright Steven Sater through the Soka Gakkai International, a Nichiren Buddhist group he joined after converting from Catholicism. Their friendship ultimately became a creative partnership, and the two collaborated on albums that they sometimes ultimately turned into musicals. In 2006, Sheik and Sater wrote Spring Awakening, the Tony Award-winning musical adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s 1890 play of the same name. Spring Awakening is the story of sexually-repressed German teenagers who embrace and face the repercussions of never having learned about their bodies. Sheik’s only other Broadway musical was American Psycho, which played the Great White Way for two and a half months in 2016.
Sheik has been dating Singaporean model Nora Ariffin since 2011.