Aoife O'Donovan

Aoife O'Donovan

O'Donovan performing at MerleFest in 2011
Background information
Born (1982-11-18) November 18, 1982
Origin Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Genres Indie Folk, Folk Rock
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, musician
Instruments Voice, guitar, piano
Years active 2001–present
Associated acts Crooked Still, Sometymes Why, The Goat Rodeo Sessions

Aoife O’Donovan (/ˈfə/ EE-fə; Irish: [ˈiːfʲə];) born November 18, 1982 in Newton, Massachusetts,[1] is an Irish-American singer and songwriter. She is best known as the lead singer for the progressive bluegrass/string band, Crooked Still,[2] and a member of the female folk-noir trio, Sometymes Why. Her first professional engagement was singing lead for the folk group The Wayfaring Strangers.[3] She has performed and recorded with Ollabelle, Karan Casey and Seamus Egan, Jerry Douglas, Jim Lauderdale, Darol Anger, Sarah Jarosz, Sara Watkins, Christina Courtin, Chris Thile (Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers), Noam Pikelny (Punch Brothers), Edgar Meyer, Stuart Duncan and Yo-Yo Ma. O’Donovan has also performed with the Boston Pops Orchestra and the Utah Symphony Orchestra. In 2012, she sang on most of the tracks on the album "Be Still" by the jazz group the Dave Douglas Quintet, featuring trumpeter Dave Douglas. During the summer of 2013, she toured with Garrison Keillor and his "A Prairie Home Companion Radio Romance Tour."[4][5] She performed at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark 2014. In 2016 she released her second solo record, "In The Magic Hour," on Yep Roc Records, as well as the live record, "Man In A Neon Coat: Live From Cambridge."

Life and career

O’Donovan grew up in Newton, Massachusetts. She spent her summers in Ireland[6] singing songs with her extended family. She became interested in American folk music through artists such as Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. Aoife went on to study contemporary improvisation at the New England Conservatory of Music,[7] where she graduated in 2003.

Crooked Still

O'Donovan and Corey DiMario met at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts in the spring of 2001. Former cellist Rushad Eggleston, who was studying at Berklee College of Music, and Gregory Liszt, a graduate student at MIT, were playing music together around the same time, and when the four met that summer, they formed the band Crooked Still.[1] The group grew in popularity by playing Boston area venues. The group was invited to perform at the Newport Folk Festival and Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, the same year they released their debut album, Hop High. Crooked Still has toured in 23 states and several countries. In August 2006, the group released their second album, Shaken by a Low Sound. In November 2007, cellist Rushad Eggleston parted ways with the band to pursue his own music. In January 2008 two new members joined the band: cellist Tristan Clarridge and fiddler Brittany Haas. The band released its first album with the new lineup Still Crooked in 2008, a live album in 2009, a studio full-length Some Strange Country in 2010 and an EP Friends of Fall in October 2011.[8]

Sometymes Why

Contemporary/neo-traditional folk noir trio Sometymes Why was formed in 2005 by O’Donovan, Kristin Andreassen and Ruth Ungar Merenda. They came together from other bands, including Uncle Earl the Jolly Bankers (Andreassen), Crooked Still, the Wild Band of Snee, the Wayfaring Strangers (O’Donovan), The Mammals and Jay Ungar & Molly Mason’s Family Band (Merenda). Sometymes Why released their debut cd in 2005 titled Sometimes Why, followed by Your Heart Is A Glorious Machine in 2009.[1]


O'Donovan's songwriting came to the attention of Alison Krauss, who recorded Aoife's song "Lay My Burden Down" on her album Paper Airplane (2011 Rounder Records)[1][9] and is used in the film Get Low (2010 Sony Pictures). She has had songs placed on True Blood (HBO)[10] and Private Practice (ABC).

In June 2010, O'Donovan released her first solo recording, Blue Light, in the form of a limited edition 7" vinyl.

O'Donovan is the guest vocalist on the 2013 Grammy winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions (2011 Sony Masterworks), an album recorded by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, bassist Edgar Meyer, mandolinist Chris Thile and fiddler Stuart Duncan. The album includes two vocal tracks featuring O'Donovan and Chris Thile. O'Donovan co-wrote one of those tracks, "Here And Heaven", with Meyer, Thile and Duncan.[11]

In November 2012, Aoife signed a deal with Yep Roc Records. A single, "Red & White & Blue & Gold" was released April 2, 2013, and her full-length debut album, "Fossils", produced by Tucker Martine, was released on June 11, 2013.[2]

Aoife has toured with the Punch Brothers, Transatlantic Sessions, the Milk Carton Kids, Elephant Revival, The Goat Rodeo Sessions and The Lone Bellow, makes frequent appearances on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion as well as headlining performances both in the US and abroad.

In 2015, Aoife toured extensively with Sara Watkins (a founding member of Nickel Creek) and Sarah Jarosz under the combined tour banner of "I’m with Her".[12] This combo came about after an impromptu performance at the 2014 Telluride Bluegrass Festival.[13]

In 2016 Aoife released her sophomore solo studio album on Yep Roc Records, titled "In The Magic Hour." On September 9th she also released the live record "Man In A Neon Coat: Live From Cambridge," also on Yep Roc Records.

O'Donovan resides in Brooklyn, NY.[12]


Solo Recordings

Year Album Record Label
2010 Blue Light (EP) Media Blitz Record Co.
2012 Peachstone (EP) Self Released
2013 (June 11) Fossils Yep Roc Records
2016 (January 22) In The Magic Hour Yep Roc Records
2016 (September 9) Man In A Neon Coat: Live From Cambridge (Live Album) Yep Roc Records

Sometymes Why

Year Album Record Label
2005 Sometimes Why Self Released
2007 Sometimes Why (Silver Edition) Self Released
2009 Your Heart Is A Glorious Machine Signature Sounds

Crooked Still

Year Album Record Label
2004 Hop High Footprint Records
2006 Shaken By A Low Sound Signature Sounds
2008 Still Crooked Signature Sounds
2009 Crooked Still Live Signature Sounds
2010 Some Strange Country Signature Sounds
2011 Friends of Fall (EP) Signature Sounds

I'm With Her

Year Album Record Label
2015 Crossing Muddy Waters Sugar Hill


Year Title Producer
2010 "Half of What We Know" (with Crooked Still) Grey Sky Films
2013 "Red & White & Blue & Gold" Yep Roc Records
2013 "Beekeeper" Yep Roc Records

As guest artist

Year Artist Title Record Label
2003 The Wayfaring Strangers This Train Rounder
2004 The Wild Band of Snee Mystical 4-Track Recordings of Snee The Wild Band of Snee
2004 The Wild Band of Snee Rushad Eggleston and His Wild Band of Snee The Wild Band of Snee
2005 Richie Barshay Homework Barshay Music
2005 The Wild Band of Snee Music of Snee The Wild Band of Snee
2006 The Wild Band of Snee Playhouse of the Universe The Wild Band of Snee
2010 The American Beauty Project Page Auditorium, Duke University, Durham, NC 10/15/10
2011 Noam Pikelny Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail Compass
2011 Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile The Goat Rodeo Sessions Sony Classical
2011 Alex Battles Goodbye Almira Alex Battles's Records
2012 Dave Douglas Be Still Greenleaf
2012 Mike + Ruthy The NYC EP Humble Abode
2012 Kate Rusby 20 Pure
2012 Annalivia The Same Way Down Annalivia
2013 Alastair Moock Singing Our Way Through: Songs for the World's Bravest Kids Moockshake Music
2013 Transatlantic Sessions Transatlantic Sessions 6 - Volume Two Whirlie
2015 John Morris Russell American Originals Fanfare Cincinnati
2016 Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands The Hazel and Alice Sessions Spruce and Maple
2016 Infamous Stringdusters Ladies & Gentlemen Compass
2016 Jesse Harper One True Thing Jesse Harper


  1. 1 2 3 4 Kim Ruehl. "Aoife O'Donovan (of Crooked Still)". Aoife O'Donovan - Biography and Profile. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  2. 1 2 Linda Fahey (June 8, 2013). "Aoife O'Donovan: The Voice Of Crooked Still Breaks Loose". NPR Music. National Public Radio. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  3. Alarik, Scott (2003-11-14). "/ News / Boston Globe / Living / Arts / Wayfaring Strangers find common ground". Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  4. Hays Davis (July 18, 2013). "Garrison Keillor's 'A prairie home companion': Spirit of the Radio". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Richmond, Virginia: World Media Enterprises. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
  5. R. Scott Reedy (July 25, 2013). "Garrison Keillor brings 'Prairie' to Cohasset". The Patriot Ledger. Quincy, Massachusetts: GateHouse Media. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
  6. Eamon Carr (July 20, 2013). "Welcome to Aoife's roots county chillout". The Evening Herald ( Dublin, Ireland: Independent House. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  7. Shea Gibbs (October 10, 2013). "The many sides of Aoife O'Donovan's talent". C-Ville Weekly. Charlottesville, VA. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
  8. "Crooked Still Discography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
  9. Doyle, Patrick (2011-02-10). "Alison Krauss Reflects on Making First Album With Union Station Since 2004". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  10. "True Blood: S 3 EP 25 Bad Blood: Music". HBO. 2011-11-12. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  11. "Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile Transcend Musical Boundaries...". Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  12. 1 2 Jonathan Bernstein (March 16, 2016). "The Glad Tears of Aoife O'Donovan". American Songwriter magazine. ForASong Media, LLC. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  13. Alex Gallacher (April 26, 2015). "I'm with Her Tour: Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan". Music News. Folk Radio UK. Retrieved October 17, 2015.

External links

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