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Aoife O'Donovan
Background information
Born (1982-11-18) November 18, 1982 (age 40)
Boston, Massachusetts
Genres Folk rock, Americana
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar, piano
Years active 2001–present
Associated acts
  • Crooked Still
  • Sometymes Why
  • The Goat Rodeo Sessions
  • I'm with Her

Aoife O'Donovan (/ˈfə/ EE-fə, Irish: [ˈiːfʲə]; born November 18, 1982) is an American singer and Grammy award-winning songwriter. She is best known as the lead singer for the string band Crooked Still and she also co-founded the Grammy Award-winning female folk trio I'm with Her. She has released three critically acclaimed studio albums: Fossils (2013), In the Magic Hour (2016), and Man in a Neon Coat: Live from Cambridge (2016), as well as multiple noteworthy EPs, including Blue Light (2010), Peachstone (2012), In the Magic Hour: Solo Sessions (2019), and Bull Frog's Croon (and Other Songs) (2020). She also spent a decade contributing to the radio variety shows Live from Here and A Prairie Home Companion. Her first professional engagement was singing lead for the folk group The Wayfaring Strangers.

O'Donovan has performed with the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Kansas City Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Louisville 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. She also performed at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark 2014. In summer 2017, she joined Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home "Love and Comedy" Tour.

She has performed, recorded and collaborated with a large variety of acclaimed musicians including 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, Greensky Bluegrass, Kronos Quartet and Yo-Yo Ma. Her songwriting has also led her to be featured in films and television and came to the attention of Alison Krauss, who recorded Aoife's song "Lay My Burden Down" on her album Paper Airplane (2011 Rounder Records) and is used in the film Get Low (2010 Sony Pictures). She has had songs placed on True Blood (HBO) and Private Practice (ABC).

Life and career

Aoife O'Donovan 2
Aoife O'Donovan playing guitar at a concert in 2009

O'Donovan grew up in Newton, Massachusetts. She spent her summers in Ireland 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, where she graduated in 2003. In 2016, she wed Eric Jacobsen; subsequently they had a daughter Ivy Jo, born in 2017.

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. 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.

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.

Since 2010

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.

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.

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 Chris Thile's Live From Here 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". This combo came about after an impromptu performance at the 2014 Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The trio released their debut album See You Around on Rounder Records in 2018.

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

In 2018, Aoife wrote and recorded an original song titled "Are You There" for Elizabeth Chomko's short-film What They Had starring Hilary Swank.

In 2019, Aoife and her band I'm with Her won a Grammy Award for Best American Roots Song for their song "Call My Name".

In 2020, Aoife released her string quartet EP, Bullfrog's Croon (and Other Songs). As a solo artist she was inter alia part of the Newport Folk Festival in July 2021.

In 2022, O'Donovan released Age of Apathy, a solo record produced by Joe Henry with guest performances by Allison Russell and Madison Cunningham.

O'Donovan lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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
2019 (November 1) In the Magic Hour: Solo Sessions (EP) Yep Roc Records
2020 (March 6) Bull Frog's Croon (and Other Songs) (EP) Yep Roc Records
2021 Aoife plays Nebraska Yep Roc Records
2022 Age of Apathy Yep Roc Records

With 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

With 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
2018 Live at Grey Fox July 16, 2006 Signature Sounds

With I'm With Her

Year Album Record Label
2015 Crossing Muddy Waters (EP) Sugar Hill
2018 See You Around New Rounder
2019 "Call My Name" (Single) Rounder


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
2017 Chris Thile Thanks for Listening Nonesuch
2020 Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile Not Our First Goat Rodeo Sony Classical
2020 Kronos Quartet Long Time Passing Smithsonian Folkways
2021 The Paper Kites "Climb on Your Tears" (Roses) Wonderlick/ Sony
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