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Esmé Patterson

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Esmé Patterson
Esmé Patterson on the cover of Notes from Nowhere
Background information
BornBoulder, Colorado
OriginDenver, Colorado
Years active2006–present
LabelsSony/BMG, Illegal Pete's Greater Than Collective, Xtra Mile Recordings, Grand Jury, Fat Possum Records

Esmé Patterson is an American gold-selling recording artist in the US[1] and Canada,[2] originally from Denver, Colorado, and currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee.[3] She is a founding former member of the indie folk band Paper Bird[4] and has released four full-length studio albums as a solo artist, the latest of which was released under her multi-album major label contract with Sony/BMG Media Group.[5]


Founding Paper Bird, Ballet Commission, & Beginning of Solo Career

Patterson began her career in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado, co-founding Paper Bird,[4] but exited the band after pursuing her own solo career,[6] and the remaining six members disbanded the group soon thereafter.[7]

Patterson and Paper Bird were commissioned by Ballet Nouveau Colorado in 2010 to compose and perform the music for a ballet entitled "Carry On", which debuted in 2011 and found acclaim among Colorado audiences.[8] "I would generally say it is joyful," Patterson told the Colorado Daily of the ballet in 2011. "Carry On", an associated live album of the musical performances of the ballet, was mixed by Jeremy Averitt and released on 11 June 2011.[9] Averitt would later join the band backing Patterson's solo career as its bassist.

In 2012, Patterson signed with Greater Than Collective, a Denver-based independent label funded by Illegal Pete's, and released her debut album entitled All Princes, I, for which she received favorable critical reviews from American Songwriter and Colorado's 5280 Magazine.[10][11][12]

The album was officially released on 20 October 2012 with a corresponding release performance at L2 Arts & Culture Center in Denver, Colorado with Patterson backed by a thirteen-piece orchestral ensemble. Westword's Josiah Hesse described the album as "an authentic and infectious gift," but the grueling touring schedule of Paper Bird kept Patterson from performing her own solo tour on the album.[13] She later told an interviewer that she was given an ultimatum by the members of Paper Bird to either quit pursuing her solo career or quit the band: “The band gave me an ultimatum: Quit doing your solo thing, or quit the band,” Patterson told The Denver Post's interviewer, Dylan Owens in 2016, “So I quit the band.”[14] Paper Bird disbanded following Patterson's departure, and Patterson continued to tour, performing her own work.

First of TED Talks Concerning Women in Popular Songs

During a 2013 interview with Colorado Daily regarding an upcoming TEDxTalk she was asked to present on the subject of a woman's experiences in music, Patterson confided that she was prompted by her own experiences to begin writing songs that told the other side of the story from the perspective of the objectified female characters in hit songs, of which she previewed a few in her TEDxTalk at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts on 15 November 2013.[15][16][17] The songs would later appear on her second full-length solo album Woman to Woman.

Co-Writing "Dearly Departed" and Gold Record Certifications

Prior to signing with Dualtone Records, artist Shakey Graves (Alejandro Rose-Garcia) was a frequent opening act for Paper Bird on their US tours,[18] and Patterson co-wrote three songs for his debut 2014 label release And the War Came,[19] one of which, "Dearly Departed", reached No. 5 on the Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay chart,[20] No. 49 on the Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart,[21] and No. 49 on the Alternative 30 of the Canadian Rock Music Charts.[22] Patterson performed the song on Conan and The Late Show with David Letterman in late 2014 and early 2015, respectively.[23][24] Her 2014 performance of the song broadcast from the SXSW Pandora House garnered 9.5 million viewers.[25] The song earned Patterson RIAA Gold Certification in the US[1] and Music Canada Gold Certification in 2020 and 2021, respectively,[26] and was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2015 Americana Music Awards held at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, at which she gave a broadcast performance of the song.[27]

Release of Woman to Woman and Second TEDx Appearance

In 2015, Patterson released her second full-length album titled Woman to Woman, a collection of original response songs to "male-gaze" hits from the perspective of the female subject of each song, on the UK label Xtra Mile Recordings in the UK and US, gaining wide acclaim from the international critics for several music publications including Vice Magazine, The Guardian, and Bust Magazine.[28][29][30] "The Glow" was premiered by Spin Magazine online and Patterson made an associated music video in which she portrays a version of the female main character Caroline from The Beach Boys' hit song "Caroline, No".[31][32] "Valentine" tells an alternate story from the perspective of the title female character in Elvis Costello's hit song "Alison", and was premiered online by American Songwriter.[33] "Never Chase a Man" proffers the thoughts and feelings of Jolene, the female subject of Dolly Parton's hit song of the same name, and was premiered by Austin, TX Public Radio station KUTX.[34]

The album's popularity and theme gained the attention of TEDx organizers, who tapped Patterson for another TED Talk, this time at Ellie Caulkins Opera House on the topic "Ideas Unbridled: Revisiting Her Side of the Story", discussing the need to recognize and respond to the problematic themes of hit songs that objectify and demean their main female characters.[35][36]

We Were Wild and NPR Tiny Desk Appearance

Patterson released her third full-length album in 2016 entitled We Were Wild, her first for Fat Possum Records, which caught the attention of Rolling Stone and The New York Times, who reviewed the album as a stark departure from her previous efforts yet recommended its selections within their published playlists.[37][38] The album was recorded and mixed in Portland, Oregon after Patterson relocated there in 2015,[39] and she performed its lead single "No River" and other selections on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts of 10 February 2017.[40]

In the same year, Patterson recorded a duet with UK recording artist Frank Turner, a fellow Xtra Mile -signed artist, which appeared on his album Positive Songs for Negative People.[41]

Also in 2016, Patterson worked with Bloodshot Records artist William Elliott Whitmore, whom she had toured with in 2015,[42] to create a record in which each played a song written by the other on each side of a split 7-inch double-sided single released by Bloodshot Records[43] in November, 2016 and acquired by Rough Trade Records as a limited edition printing.[44] Entitled Play Each Other's Songs, the A side features Whitmore covering Patterson's song "Elysium", and Patterson in turn covering Whitmore's "Not Feeling Any Pain" on the B side.[45] The record garnered favorable reviews by critics and a video shot in downtown Los Angeles featuring Patterson dancing to "Not Feeling Any Pain".[46]

BMG Contract, There Will Come Soft Rains, and COVID19 Tour Cancellation

Patterson released her most recent record on March 6, 2020, titled There Will Come Soft Rains, after an apocalypse-themed Ray Bradbury work of the same name.,[5] her first on the BMG label with which she signed a multi-album contract.[47] Coincidentally, this apocalypse-referencing album saw its March 6, 2020 release coincide with the first COVID-19 quarantine lockdowns throughout Patterson's home state of Colorado that same week.[48][49] Patterson subsequently decided to cancel the scheduled release tour for the album, including her much-anticipated South by Southwest (SXSW) appearance, citing safety concerns for her band members and audiences alike during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic.[50]

The album was favorably reviewed in Paste Magazine, who called it a "study in swagger and contrast" and noted its sudden pop sensibilities as yet another departure for Patterson from her previous work.[51]

Tour with Os Mutantes' U.S. Return & Upcoming Album Hints

In 2022 and 2023, Patterson supported the influential group of the late 1960s Tropicália Brazilian art movement Os Mutantes during their first tour of the United States since 2006.

She told the audience during her opening set on 1 March 2023 at the Third Man Records Blue Room in Nashville, Tennessee that she had recorded an album on her farm in Tennessee, and began the set by performing one of the songs she had written for it.[52]

Records indicate that the publishing rights of her catalog continue to be administered by BMG Rights Management as of July, 2023.[53]

Patterson's official WikiMedia Commons account uploaded a photograph on July 30, 2023, captioned as the cover photo of her upcoming album entitled Notes from Nowhere, though no release date was given nor announcement made, and mentions that her husband helped stage the stunt photography.[54]

The Nashville Scene premiered the video for 'Coming Down', the second of two pre-release singles from her forthcoming album Notes from Nowhere on 7 September 2023, and identified the release date of the album to coincide with a release party at East Nashville's The 5 Spot live music venue on 10 October 2023 with support from Ziona Riley and Abby Johnson.[55] In reviewing the video premiere, Stephen Trageser, Music Editor for the Nashville Scene, described the single as "a quiet meditation on living in the moment."


Studio albums

  • All Princes, I (2012)
  • Woman to Woman (2015)
  • We Were Wild (2016)
  • There Will Come Soft Rains (2020)


  1. ^ a b "Gold & Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved 2023-01-08.
  2. ^ "Canadian certifications – Esme Patterson". Music Canada. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  3. ^ Trageser, Stephen (2 March 2023). "Os Mutantes Reveal Their Powers". Nashville Scene. Nashville, Tennessee, USA: FW Publishing. p. 2. Retrieved March 2, 2023.
  4. ^ a b Miller, Matt (23 September 2014). "Esme Patterson leaves Paper Bird". The Denver Post. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  5. ^ a b Woronzoff, Elisabeth (5 March 2020). "Esmé Patterson Goes Dream Pop on 'There Will Come Soft Rains'". PopMatters. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  6. ^ Maletsky, Kiernan (November 12, 2014). "Paper Bird and Esme Patterson Had to Split Up Before Both Could Take Off". Westword. No. Music Longform, November, 2014. Denver Westword, LLC. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  7. ^ Harvey, Tyler (22 November 2017). "HERE'S WHY DENVER BAND PAPER BIRD ARE BREAKING UP". 303 Magazine. No. November 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
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  9. ^ Klickstein, Matthew (8 September 2011). "Paper Bird 'Carry On': Local folk group play Boulder Theater Thursday". Colorado Daily. No. 8 September 2011. MediaNews Group, Inc. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  10. ^ Hatlestad, Luc (16 October 2012). "The Interview: Paper Bird's Esme Patterson". 5280 Magazine. 5280 Publishing, Inc. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
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  12. ^ Johnson, Josh (15 October 2012). "Steal This Track: Esmé Patterson's "Sun Up 2 Sun Down"". The Denver Post. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  13. ^ Hesse, Josiah (19 October 2012). "Paper Bird's Esme Patterson on how there's more to the human experience than love songs". Westword. No. 19 October 2012. Denver Westword, LLC. Retrieved 1 August 2023.
  14. ^ Owens, Dylan (8 June 2016). ""Wantin Ain't Gettin": Esmé Patterson spins disappointment into gold". The Denver Post. No. 9 June 2016. MediaNews Group, Inc. Retrieved 1 August 2023.
  15. ^ TEDx, MileHigh (16 November 2013). "Songs That Tell Her Side of the Story: Esmé Patterson at TEDxMileHigh". TEDxMileHigh. TED Conferences, LLC. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  16. ^ TEDx, MileHigh. "Songs That Tell Her Side of the Story: Esme Patterson at TEDxMileHigh". TEDxMileHIgh Youtube Channel. TED Conferences, LLC. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  17. ^ Hardies, Deanna (14 November 2013). "Esme Patterson of Paper Bird on women and music". Colorado Daily. No. 14 November 2013. MediaNews Group, Inc. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  18. ^ Concert, Archives. "Archived Concert Details". ConcertArchives.org. Concert Archives. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  19. ^ Government, United States. "Online Catalog of United States Copyright Documents". United States Copyright Office Catalog. United States Copyright Office. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  20. ^ "Esmé Patterson – Chart History: Triple A Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  21. ^ "Esmé Patterson – Chart History: Rock Airplay". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  22. ^ "Esmé Patterson – Chart History: Canada Rock". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  23. ^ Conan. "Dearly Departed - Esmé Patterson & Shakey Graves (Live on Conan 2014)". YouTube. Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  24. ^ Letterman, David. "Esmé Patterson & Shakey Graves - Dearly Departed (Live on the Late Show with David Letterman 2015)". YouTube.com. National Amusements, Inc. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  25. ^ Pandora, Radio. "Live from the Pandora House at SXSW 2014". YouTube.com. Sirius XM Holdings, Inc.
  26. ^ "Canadian certifications – Shakey Graves". Music Canada. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  27. ^ Warren, Bruce (23 December 2015). "2015 Americana Music Honors & Awards: The Performances". NPR Music World Cafe. National Public Radio. Retrieved 1 August 2023.
  28. ^ Hesse, Josiah (2 September 2014). "Esmé Patterson Speaks for the Women of Your Favorite Pop Songs". Vice. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  29. ^ Jones, Corinne (February 2015). "Esmé Patterson: Woman to Woman review – defiant and witty". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  30. ^ Brosh, Elle (17 April 2014). "Spotlight On Esme Patterson: Singing The Other Side Of A Love Song". Bust. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  31. ^ Polanco, Luis (19 November 2014). "Esme Patterson Rebuffs The Beach Boys In 'The Glow' Video". Spin Magazine. No. November 2014. Next Management Partners. Retrieved 1 August 2023.
  32. ^ Patterson, Esmé. "Music Video: Esmé Patterson - The Glow". YouTube. Esmé Patterson. Retrieved 1 August 2023.
  33. ^ Small, Nina (9 April 2014). "Song Premiere: Esmé Patterson, "Valentine"". American Songwriter. No. April 2014. Savage Ventures, Inc. Retrieved 1 August 2023.
  34. ^ Levy, Art (7 April 2014). "Esme Patterson: "Never Chase A Man"". KUTX98.9. University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 1 August 2023.
  35. ^ Tedx, Talks. "Revisiting Her Side of the Story - Esmé Patterson". Tedx Talks. TED Conferences, LLC. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  36. ^ Duhon, Jeremy (13 June 2015). "Ideas Unbridled: Telling Her Side of the Story". TEDxMileHIgh. No. 13 June 2015. TED Conferences, LLC. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  37. ^ Dolan, Jon (13 June 2016). "Esme Patterson: We Were Wild". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  38. ^ Pareles, Jon (11 June 2016). "What You Should Be Listening To This Week". The New York Times. No. 11 June 2016. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  39. ^ Owens, Dylan (8 June 2016). ""Wantin Ain't Gettin": Esmé Patterson spins disappointment into gold". The Denver Post. No. 9 June 2016. MediaNews Group, Inc. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  40. ^ Boilen, Bob. "Esmé Patterson: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert". NPR Music. National Public Radio. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  41. ^ Blackstock, Peter (12 October 2016). "Tuesday's music picks: Frank Turner, Pepper". Austin-American Statesman. Gannett Co., Inc. Retrieved 7 September 2023.
  42. ^ Davies, Mike (26 February 2015). "New Album: William Elliott Whitmore – Radium Death". Folk Radio UK. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  43. ^ AllMusic™. "Album Credits - "Play Each Other's Songs"". AllMusic.com. AllMusic Netaktion, LLC. Retrieved 31 July 2023. {{cite web}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  44. ^ Rough Trade Records. "Product - William Elliott Whitmore and Esmé Patterson - Play Each Other's Somgs". RoughTrade.com. Rough Trade Records. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  45. ^ Discogs (18 November 2016). "Summary - Release Code r9413041". Discogs.com. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  46. ^ Matasci, Matt (October 20, 2016). "WATCH: Esmé Patterson Releases New Video for "Not Feeling Any Pain" and Announces Split 7" with William Elliott Whitmore". mxdwn.com. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  47. ^ Bertelsmann, BMG (5 February 2016). "Esmé Patterson BMG Artist Page". BMG Online. BMG-US. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  48. ^ Paul, Jesse; Frank, John (March 13, 2020). "Colorado legislature will shut down on Saturday for 2 weeks because of coronavirus". The Colorado Sun. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  49. ^ Hindi, Saja (March 13, 2020). "Coronavirus Dandemic Shuts Down Colorado Capitol for at Least Two Weeks". The Denver Post. MediaNews Group, Inc. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  50. ^ Campbell, Ana (9 March 2020). "Coronavirus cancelled Esme Patterson's official show at South by Southwest, where she'd hoped to play her album named after a post-apocalyptic story". Denverite. Colorado Public Radio. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  51. ^ Salmon, Ben (30 March 2020). "Esmé Patterson's There Will Come Soft Rains Is a Study in Swagger and Contrast". Paste Magazine. No. April 2020. Paste Media Group. Retrieved 1 August 2023.
  52. ^ Trageser, Stephen (2 March 2023). "Os Mutantes Reveal Their Powers". The Nashville Scene. No. The Spin - 8 March 2023. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  53. ^ BMG, Rights Management (5 February 2016). "Esmé Patterson Profile". BMG: The New Music Company. BMG Rights Management, Inc. Retrieved 1 August 2023.
  54. ^ "File: Notes From Nowhere.jpg". Wikimedia Commons. WikiMedia. 10 February 2023. Retrieved 1 August 2023.
  55. ^ Trageser, Stephen (7 September 2023). "Esmé Patterson Looks Forward in 'Coming Down'". Nashville Scene. No. 8 September 2023. SouthComm, Inc. Retrieved 7 September 2023.