Aoife O’Donovan (/ˈfə/ EE-fə; Irish: [ˈiːfʲə];) born November 18, 1982 in Newton, Massachusetts,[2] is an American singer and songwriter. She is best known as the lead singer for the progressive bluegrass/string band, Crooked Still,[3] 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.[4] 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."[5][6] She performed at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark 2014.

Life and career

O’Donovan grew up in Newton, Massachusetts. She spent her school-year summers in Ireland[7] 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,[8] 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.[2] 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.[9]

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.[2]


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)[2][10] and is used in the film Get Low (2010 Sony Pictures). She has had songs placed on True Blood (HBO)[11] 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.[12]

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.[3]

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".[13] This combo came about after an impromptu performance at the 2014 Telluride Bluegrass Festival.[14]

O'Donovan resides in Brooklyn, NY.[13]


YearAlbumRecord Label
2011The Goat Rodeo SessionsSony Classical

Solo Recordings

YearAlbumRecord Label
2010Blue Light (EP)Media Blitz Record Co.
2012Peachstone (EP)Self Released
2013 (June 11)FossilsYep Roc Records
2016 (January 22)In The Magic HourYep Roc Records

Sometymes Why

YearAlbumRecord Label
2005Sometimes WhySelf Released
2007Sometimes Why (Silver Edition)Self Released
2009Your Heart Is A Glorious MachineSignature Sounds

Crooked Still

YearAlbumRecord Label
2004Hop HighFootprint Records
2006Shaken By A Low SoundSignature Sounds
2008Still CrookedSignature Sounds
2009Crooked Still LiveSignature Sounds
2010Some Strange CountrySignature Sounds
2011Friends of Fall (EP)Signature Sounds


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

2012Be Still (Dave Douglas)Greenleaf