Electronic Press Kit

High Resolution Photos by Kristi Jan Hoover


Emily Pinkerton's driving force as a songwriter and ethnomusicologist 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, charango and guitarrón.  

In her solo work, Pinkerton writes songs that blend Appalachian and Andean traditions.  She draws on studies with legendary musicians Alfonso Rubio, Chosto Ulloa, Patricia Chavarria 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 collaboration with Venezuelan violinist Eddy Marcano.

In 2012, Emily founded old-time trio, The Early Mays, who are known for watertight vocal harmonies and stirring arrangements.  The Mays performed on NPR's Mountain Stage recently, in addition to reaching the top of the National Folk-DJ Charts with their latest release "Chase the Sun."  In 2016 they wond the Neo-Traditional Band Competition at The Appalachian String Band Music Festival in Clifftop, West Virginia, not far from the home county of the Hammons Family, whose music was the first inspiration for Emily's latest solo project, Rounder Songs, released in November 2017 on New Amsterdam Records.

Rounder Songs is a song cycle for voice, clawhammer banjo and chamber ensemble (NYC-based NOW Ensemble) that brings together 21st century post-minimalist classical music and North American old-time.  The work is inspired by field recordings and folk tales from Kentucky and West Virginia that tell the stories of several "rounders": rural drifters including a gambler, a murderer, and a mill laborer who strikes a deal with the devil.  Rounder Songs was conceived and created by Emily and composer Patrick Burke to focus on the common ground between their musical worlds--hypnotic, pulsing rhythms, subtle melody variation over time, and perhaps most of all, the vivid evocation of certain moods.  The work features old-time and classical genres on a level playing field, rather that subsuming one within the other.


Press HIghlights | Solo Work

The best of two cultures and songwriting styles... Pinkerton's songs employ earthy metaphors that reflect her spiritual and emotional world.  

--NUVO, Indianapolis, IN

...a definite recommendation for people for whom crossing cultural bridges is a labor of love.

 --FolkWorld, Germany

It's hard not to be enchanted with Emily Pinkerton's music when it takes you from the North American Midwest to the South American Andes.  The ubiquitous guitar makes it accessible, but the Latin rhythms and language turn it into an exotic, luscious thing.  Pinkerton went from Valparaiso, IN to Valparaiso, Chile as an exchange student, taking with ehr a love of old-time fiddle and banjo.  She became a critically acclaimed performer, singing both American old-time music and tunes in the Andean singer-songwriter style of Violeta Parra.  

--Cleveland Scene, Cleveland, OH

Pinkerton sets a poem by Venezuelan poet Henry Martínez and sings it with an understated passion that accents the desperate emotion of unrequited love.  Pinkerton also writes solid country tunes like the honky tonk lament "Beautiful Dress" and folky tearjerkers like the dark cello-driven "Ends of the Earth."

 --Sing Out!, National Folk Music Magazine

Press for the Early Mays...

Press for Rounder Songs...

Career highlights

  • The Heinz Endowments | Pittsburgh Foundation Creative Development Grant for composition, performance of Rounder Songs

  • NewMusic USA Award for composition of "Three Forks of Hell"

  • Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, Roster Artist

  • Appalachian String Band Music Festival, 1st place in Neo-Traditional Band Competition, 3rd place in Flatfoot Dance competition

  • West Virginia State Folk Music Festival, 3rd place in Fiddle Competition

  • Uncle Dave Macon Festival, 3rd place in Fiddle Competition

  • Official Showcases at NERFA and SERFA Conferences

  • Chilean-American Fulbright Association and the Organization of American States Grants for study of Chilean Canto a lo Poeta

Sound and Tech

Contact Emily for stage plots and tech for...

  • Solo performance

  • Rounder Songs

  • The Early Mays

recent venues

National Sawdust, TUTTI Festival and Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert Series with NOW Ensemble; NPR's Mountain Stage, Appalachian String Band Music Festival, HOTA Fest and Fiddle and Bow Society with The Early Mays; Merkin Hall with Eddy Marcano, SongSpace, Acoustic Music Works