Erin McKeown is a musician, writer, and producer known internationally for her prolific disregard of stylistic boundaries. Her brash and clever electric guitar playing is something to see. Her singing voice is truly unique – clear, cool, and collected. A familiar presence on NPR and the BBC, McKeown’s songs have also appeared on numerous television shows and commercials.
While a student at Brown University, Erin spent three years as an artist in residence at Providence, RI’s revolutionary community arts organization, AS220. She has spent the next decade and a half playing nearly 200 shows a year while releasing 9 studio albums and refining a distinct and challenging mix of American musical styles.
An active voice on social justice issues and culture, Erin was a 2011-12 fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and she has blogged and hosted for WNYC New York Public Radio. A former board member of the Future of Music Coalition, McKeown has also worked closely with a range of non-profits focusing on her core concerns of media justice and immigration reform. See her ACTIVISM page for more details.
McKeown’s first original musical, “Miss You Like Hell”, co-written with Tony & Pulitzer winner Quiara Alegria Hudes, had its world premiere in the Fall of 2016 at the La Jolla Playhouse. Her latest release, 2016’s ACCORDING TO US, uses the intimate expressions of jazz, gospel, and hip-hop to trace a journey toward personal liberation.
Performed with: Amos Lee, Anais Mitchell, Ani DiFranco, Andrew Bird, Ben Sollee, Carrie Rodriguez, Jason Isbell, Joan Baez, Josh Ritter, Lake Street Dive, Mike Doughty, Richard Thompson, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, The Mountain Goats, and Welcome To Night Vale.
Appeared at: Bonnaroo, Newport Folk, Glastonbury, Oxegen, Winnipeg, Strawberry. Beacon Theater, Olympia Theater, Royal Festival Hall. Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Later with Jools Holland, NPR, BBC.
Songs Placed: “The Good Fight”, “Bunheads”, “Desperate Housewives”, “Awkward”, “Gilmore Girls”, “The L Word”, “Nip/Tuck”, “Roswell” , Tesco, Google, Ferraro Praline, Bose.
FUN FACT: She has written a song via text message with her friend Rachel Maddow.
FUN FACT: McKeown stands 6’1″ instead of 5’2″.
FUN FACT: Erin has made 7 episodes of her acclaimed “Cabin Fever” series of live webcasts streamed from her house in rural western Massachusetts. Described as “Wayne’s World meets the Judy Garland Show”, the series has garnered considerable attention for its entertaining exploration of the intersections of art, technology, and commerce. You can watch the whole series here.
“Her operative mood is effortless grace” – LA Weekly
“Her set had an exquisitely open airiness, rich and pastoral for being so stripped down.” – AD Amorosi, Philadelphia Inquirer
“That’s McKeown’s genius: her ability to take what is, twist it into something more relevant and maintain whatever it is about the music that makes it work. Smarter pop? Seductive commentary? Yes.” – Paste Magazine
“In several distinctive ways- voice, dynamic subtlety, and sheer songwriting ability- Erin McKeown is in a class of her own.” – Sunday Times (UK)
“Her playing is so muscular, her arrangements so well conceived that she succeeds brilliantly. As with all truly great guitarists, the wonder is less in her chops than her choices.” – Boston Globe
****– Q Magazine for “Hundreds of Lions” (2009)
“Her clear mezzo-soprano sounds perpetually optimistic, and so do the syncopated electric guitar parts she picks and plucks through the sparsely arranged but fully realized songs. A degree in ethnomusicology, and African undercurrents, separate her from more rhythmically earth-bound folk-rockers.” – Jon Pareles, New York Times for “We Will Become Like Birds” (2005)
“Her voice slips into the territory of Florence Welch and Elena Tonra with its depth and texture, but stands alone in its complete clarity, a dinner bell ringing through a drafty home until the whole place is warm. She is, more simply, the kind of artist who will give you a varied, confetti-colored pocketful of secrets in return for a smile and some applause. She is easy listening without anything inherently easy about it.”– Lucy Gellman, New Haven Independent
“She has as much to do with Fanny Brice as Bob Dylan.” – Horvandile
“Erin McKeown is an accomplished rock composer and lyricist, whose complex and specific lyrics filter through her clarity of melodic line and rebellious use of rhythm. I think lyrics are often the unsung heart and soul of musicals, and McKeown combines a poet’s instinct for metaphor with a storyteller’s instinct for forward momentum. She makes the great human emotions surprising and immediate. She’s a mature artist with the child-like energy of someone new and fearless—a wonderful combination.” -Quiara Alegría Hudes, Tony-nominated writer of In The Heights, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Water By The Spoonful