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 concerst 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 last year, 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, whoe music was the first inspiration for Emily's latest solo project, Rounder Songs, released in November on New Amsterdam Records.
Rounder Songs is a song cycle for voice, clawhammer banjo and chamber 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.