McKeown began her career in the folk scene. She released her first album, Monday Morning Cold, on her own label (TVP Records), travelling throughout New England while still a student at Brown University in order to promote the record. Although she had begun studying ornithology, she graduated from Brown with a degree in ethnomusicology.
McKeown's music is difficult to categorize in terms of genre; it has touched upon pop, swing, rock, folk, and electronic music, as well as many other genres. McKeown cites The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as an influence on her music.
The Philadelphia Weekly recently described McKeown's music, saying:
More singer-songwriters should follow the lead of Erin McKeown, the kooky songbird who's proved both playful and daring throughout her career. With a lilting delivery and chameleonic instrumentation, she even slipped into French for "Coucou," a gem off her unlikely standards album Sing You Sinners. But with McKeown, is anything really unlikely?
McKeown continues to perform regularly, spending much of her time touring throughout the world with artists such as Ani DiFranco, Josh Ritter, the Indigo Girls, Martin Sexton, Andrew Bird, Thea Gilmore, Melissa Ferrick, Allison Miller, and others. McKeown also took part in Queerstock, a music festival dedicated to promoting LGBT musicians.
McKeown's 2005 album, We Will Become Like Birds (produced by Tucker Martine), served as a departure from her earlier work, with a more rock-oriented sound. At a September 1, 2008, concert at The Gravity Lounge in Charlottesville, Virginia, McKeown told the audience that she wrote this album "in an attempt to write myself out of the worst heartache I'd experienced up to that point."
Her next studio release, Sing You Sinners, was released in Europe on the 23 October 2006 and in the United States on January 9, 2007 by Nettwerk Records LLC. It consists mostly of covers of jazz standards from the 1920s through 1950s.
McKeown's record, Hundreds of Lions, was released under Righteous Babe Records on October 13, 2009. Additionally, a series of web concerts recorded in 2009 are available at McKeown's website. McKeown is also currently member of an unsigned band known as "emma", which she created with her friend Allison Miller. McKeown has plans to write a book of poetry.
McKeown released "Manifestra" on January 15, 2013. Physical copies also came with a bonus album, "Civics", where Erin performed the entirety of "Manifestra" solo acoustic in a historic library.
McKeown is noted for her energetic stage presence and her habit of wearing tailored suits, often with ties and Fluevog shoes, to performances.
McKeown was selected to be a 2011-2012 fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. There, she will "work to connect the worlds of policy, art, and technology while considering questions about how to make a creative life a viable vocation."
- Monday Morning Cold (TVP Records) (1999)
- Distillation (TVP Records, Signature Sounds, TVP Records) (October 10, 2000)
- Grand (Nettwerk Records) (June 10, 2003)
- We Will Become Like Birds (Nettwerk Records) (June 28, 2005)
- Sing You Sinners (Nettwerk Records) (January 9, 2007)
- Lafayette (Live) (Signature Sounds, TVP Records) (September 25, 2007)
- Small Deviant Things, vol.1 (TVP Records) (August 1, 2008)
- Hundreds of Lions (Righteous Babe Records, TVP Records) (October 13, 2009)
- 3 Songs feat. Marc Dalio + Matt Douglas (TVP Records) (December 7, 2010)
- F*ck That! Erin McKeown's Anti-Holiday Album (TVP Records) (November 1, 2011)
- MANIFESTRA (TVP Records) (January 15, 2013)
- Small Deviant Things, vol.2 + 3 (TVP Records) (November 6, 2013)
- "How to Say My Name". Retrieved 10 January 2013.
- interview in Lesbilicious magazine
- Queerstock: Who's played
- emma on MySpace Music
- McKenna, Dave. "Jill Sobule and Erin McKeown: Live Last Night". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- Video of Erin McKeown performing "Rhode Island Is Famous For You" with the Beantown Swing Orchestra.
- "Berkman announces 2011-2012 fellows". website. Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Erin McKeown.|
- Official home page
- Washington Post review of We Will Become Like Birds
- Interview with Erin McKeown - small WORLD Podcast 2006
- Erin McKeown's April 2006 Daytrotter Recording Session
- Interview with Erin McKeown - Lesbilicious Magazine 2008
- Audio interview with Erin McKeown and Jill Sobule on Well-Rounded Radio, 2009
- Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour Show #552 - WMV Video
- Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour Show #552 - MP3 Audio
- Erin McKeown talks to the PBS NewsHour