Emily Pinkerton's driving force as a songwriter and ethno-musicologist is to explore the musical and social ties that bind the Americas. For two decades, she has traveled between the U.S. and Chile, playing fiddle, banjo, guitar and guitarrón.
In her solo, Pinkerton writes songs that blend Appalachian and Andean traditions. She draws on studies with legendary musicians Alfonso Rubio, Chosto Ulloa, Patricia Chavarría and others, including extensive fieldwork with rural poet-singers of central Chile. Performance highlights include concerts at Sala América in Santiago, Chile, the Panama jazz Festival and Merkin Hall in New York with Venezuelan violinist Eddy Marcano.
In 2012, Emily co-founded folk trio, The Early Mays, who are know for watertight vocal harmonies and stirring arrangements. The Mays just performed on NPR's Mountain Stage this past August, hitting the #1 position on the National Folk_DJ Charts the same month with the album "Chase the Sun." Last year they won the Neo-Traditional Band Competition at The Appalachian String Band Music Festival in Clifftop, WV, not far from the home county of the Hammons Family, whose music was the earliest inspiration for Emily's latest project, Rounder Songs (released November 2017: New Amsterdam Records).
Rounder Songs is a song cycle for voice, clawhammer banjo and chamber ensemble that bring together the sounds of 21st century post-minimalist classical music and North American old-time. The work is based on field recordings and legends from Kentucky and West virginia that tell the stories of several "rounders": rural drifters who include a gambler, a murderer and a mill laborer who strikes a deal with the devil. Rounder Songs was conceived and composed/arranged by Emily Pinkerton and NOW Ensemble member Patrick Burke to focus on the common ground between their musical styles -- cyclic rhythms, suble melodic variation and perhaps most of all, the vivid evocation of certain moods. The work features old-time and classical genres on a level stylistic playing field, rather than subsuming one within the other.