Singer/songwriter Samuel Beam, who rose to prominence with a blend of whispered vocals and softly homespun indie folk, chose the moniker Iron & Wine after coming across a dietary supplement named "Beef Iron & Wine" while working on a film. Raised in South Carolina, Beam received his bachelor's degree in art from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and later his Master of Fine Arts degree from Florida State University Film School. Although Beam would later expand his sound to include electric instruments and rich, lush textures, he was firmly exploring the former style when several of his lo-fi recordings caught the ear of Jonathan Poneman, co-owner of Sub Pop Records. The songs had been recorded in Beam's bedroom without the aid of studio flourishes, but Poneman nevertheless requested that additional material be sent to the label for submission, and Beam responded by sending two CDs in the mail -- both of them full-length albums. Poneman considered releasing them both, but instead slimmed down the set to 12 songs and released it in September 2002 as The Creek Drank the Cradle. The similarly themed The Sea & the Rhythm EP followed in 2003.