Sarah Barthel is an American rock artist, keyboardist, and one half of Greenwich-originated electronic music duo, Phantogram (formerly Charlie Everywhere). Although a successful singer in her own right, she is more recognizable for her long-term relationship with Shaun White, the professional snowboarder, and three-time Olympic gold medalist.
Their relationship has been a key part of the duo’s public persona, and their recent disappearance has led many to wonder about the true state of their relationship.
Sarah Barthel and Shaun White Met Backstage
It’s funny how much of an impact even a chance meeting can make on a person’s life, like how Shawn White probably had a whole different thing in mind the day he met Sarah Barthel.
The year was 2013, and by some cosmic shift in the universe, Sarah happened to be at the backstage of Saturday Night Live the same time as Shawn was visiting the set. Barthel was based in Brooklyn at the time, while White was reportedly house-hunting in New York.
As White told The Sunday Morning Herald years later, after their meeting, Barthel was generous enough to offer him a tour of the city, if he wanted. The snowboarder wasn’t exactly looking to get into a serious relationship at the time. Still, something started between them, and they became friends.
Sarah was a nice addition to White’s life, someone who thought him how to be a good friend and how to care outside of his work and goals. Slowly but surely, things got steamier between the couple, and their friendship developed into a relationship.
As fate would have it yet again, a bad apartment incident inadvertently moved their relationship up a notch. In a conversation with PEOPLE, White revealed how he asked Sarah to move in after she and Josh rented an inconvenient apartment in East LA while recording there.
— Sarah Barthel (@SarahBarthel) October 11, 2018
Though it started as an arrangement of convenience, their relationship blossomed from there. The couple made the apartment home and became co-parent to Barthel’s dog, Leroy.
Sarah Barthel and Shawn White May Have Broken Up
Although White said he wasn’t in the headspace for marriage and kids while they were together, he also said one day for sure. However, while they had fans on the lookout for an engagement, Barthel and White appear to have parted ways. Unfortunately, we can’t say what went down between the couple.
Details of their romance have always been kept on a low, but there were still occasional Instagram posts by Sarah. Now, in addition to unfollowing him on the app, Barthel has not been seen with White since April 2019. At about the same time he was last seen on her page.
Meanwhile, the athlete seems to have his hands full enough with Vampire Diaries star, Nina Dobrev, who he’s rumored to be dating per Us Magazine.
Sarah Barthel’s Sister, Becky Took her Own Life
Sarah and her elder sister, Rebecca Claire Barthel, were raised and spent much of their formative years alongside Sarah’s band partner, Josh Carter, in Greenwich. During an interview with Complex about their third album Three, the two had a lot to say about Rebecca, whose death they learned of while recording it.
Of their relationship, the duo, who are family, revealed they were quite close with Rebbeca (or Becky, as they called her). Both Josh and Sarah described Rebecca as a hero and a very funny one at that. She not only made both of them laugh on several occasions, but was also a special person and a shining star who influenced everyone around her, including her baby sister.
— Sarah Barthel (@SarahBarthel) January 10, 2015
Unfortunately, beneath her impressive ability to make people around her laugh, she was also struggling with her mental health.
In another interview with AFSP, the female singer mentioned that her sister had battled depression and anxiety her whole life. Before she eventually succumbed and committed suicide in January 2016, Sarah revealed that Becky tried to cope by resorting to alcohol and self-medication.
She was also said to have attempted suicide a couple of times while they were younger, although they didn’t talk about it.
How the Singer Dealt With her Sister’s Tragic Demise
As the duo told Complex, their third album, Three, was significantly influenced by their anger and sadness over Becky’s loss. However, that wasn’t the whole extent of its impact.
Like many people who have lost a loved one to suicide, Sarah Barthel shares her regret for not having done enough to help manage her sister’s struggle with depression. In the AFSP interview, she relayed that Becky’s death was the hardest she’d ever had to handle.
Ravaged by grief, Sarah couldn’t help but blame herself for the immense loss, but thankfully, she was able to grow through it with the aid of therapy. She was not alone during the difficult period, she had Josh, who was also one of her sister’s closest friends with her the whole time.
Her boyfriend at the time, Shawn White also flew over from Switzerland on hearing the tragic news. Another person who helped Sarah get through the dark period following Becky’s death was her good friend, Miley Cyrus.
And finally, she was admittedly grateful for her music as well, which served as an outlet with which she was able to express her feelings.
Sarah Dropped Out in Pursuit of a Music Career
The second daughter of Bruce Barthel and Claire Demarest, Sarah Demarest Barthel, was born in Greenwich, New York, on February 17, 1983. She attended Champlain College, Vermont, where she majored in visual arts. However, in 2007, she dropped out to pursue a career in music.
On her return home, she ran into her childhood friend, Josh Carter, who had just left Grand Habit, an experimental band he formed with his brother in New York City. After their reunion, the two reconnected on their mutual love for underground hip-hop. They began collaborating, with Sarah helping to finetune some of Carter’s earliest songs.
The duo soon named their small band Charlie Everywhere and began performing at live shows around the Saratoga Springs area. They also started recording songs, releasing two EPs, Charlie Everywhere EP 1 and 2, from the local label Sub-Bombin Records.
From Charlie Everywhere to Phantogram: How Sarah Barthel’s Career Struck Gold
In January of 2009, Carter and Barthel signed a record deal with a UK label named Barely Breaking Even. It was within this period Charlie Everywhere became Phantogram.
In May of that year, the band dropped their eponymous debut EP. They followed it up with Running From the Cops, from Barely Breaking Even. Later in September, Phantogram released their first album Eyelid Movies by the UK-based label, Barely Breaking Even.
It was soon followed by US release from Barsuk in February of 2010. Eyelid Movies received favorable reviews and ranked No.7 on the US Billboard Top Heatseekers chart.
Nevertheless, it was their single Fall in Love from their second album, Voices (2014), that brought Phantogram to the limelight. What followed was an explosive fan base and a Gold certification by RIAA in September 2017. The album debuted at No.11 on ‘Billboard 200’ and No.3 on ‘Top Rock Albums.’
In honor of Sarah’s late sister, Becky, Phantogram donated the proceeds from their singles Someday and Saturday to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in May 2018.
The duo released its fourth studio album Ceremony in March 2020 containing four songs, including Into Happiness, which peaked at No. 21 on the US Alt Airplay chart.