Erin McNamee - Singer : Guitarist : Music Teacher
photo by Nina Ruchirat
"Through a blending of styles, both antique and modern, classical and elemental, torch and bluesy, crystalline and rough, Erin McNamee’s voice entwines and explores and invents itself."
Born in the small Cascade mountain town of Sultan on Highway 2... in the Skykomish River Valley in Washington State, Erin McNamee was a child of nature turned singer from the time she could speak. She declared often to friends and family that she was a serious singer before age 5. Her destiny was set in motion. Erin studied classical voice and folk acoustic guitar starting at age 10. She spent most of her childhood and teenage years in regional choirs: Seattle Girls Choir, Seattle Opera and Symphony children's choruses until age 18. As a young singer-songwriter, Erin starting performing as a solo artist at the age of 16, playing at Seattle open mics and coffee shops, singing to crowds in any dive that would lend her an audience.
After graduating high school, Erin lit out to Seattle and moved into a tiny studio apartment in a 1920's brick building on Capitol Hill. For 4 years, she continued music study at Cornish College of the Arts. It seemed to be a perfect fit when while schooling at Cornish, as her artistic interests varied greatly. Erin was continued to practice classical singing, Gregorian chant, Renaissance Baroque, Classical, Romantic through Modern era Opera, European and American cabaret music, art songs, French chansons, jazz, blues, and music theater. She continued composing original songs during these years. Also throughout college, Erin kept up her research and practice in the Irish song tradition. She learned countless Celtic and Gaelic songs. With great interest in the Irish song tradition and Sean-Nos (Gaelic for "old way"). Erin made efforts to learn these songs in proper "old way." Because of her strong Irish, Scottish, French-Canadian and Breton ancestry, she made it part of her studies at Cornish.
Erin graduated Suma Cum Laude from Cornish with a Bachelor of Music degree. After finishing college, Erin spent some time traveling in Ireland and Scotland from 2003-2005. Because of her lineage and having had a close relationship with her French-Canadian Grandmother, Marie, who was a Quebecois singer, Erin always has had a passion for learning and interpreting old traditional folk songs. She started learning traditional Irish, Celtic and Breton songs, and the way the traditional nuances and natural flourishes come out in her voice is nothing short of spellbinding.
Returning from travels abroad, Erin started her voice teaching practice in Seattle with her vocal studio "Siren Studios" in 2003. Her first teaching studio room was a 10 x 10 mirrored closet with a vintage piano and an armchair in a friend's apartment on Capitol Hill. From there, Siren Studios moved to Fremont neighborhood to a converted one-car garage apartment where Erin says her teaching career really began.
Once Siren Studios was open for business in Fremont, Erin was able to leave her job as a shop girl at Seattle's Pike Place Market, as her teaching studio began to flourish. After 25+ years of vocal and guitar expertise, and with her broad and wide-ranging study of music she is able to help many students, with a unique eclectic approach to teaching. Teaching songwriting was a natural next step Erin quotes, "there is just so very much more that you can do as a singer, once you learn theory, how to accompany yourself, and start writing songs." She added, "I think I like helping others develop their songs even more than I like doing that for myself." Her mission is to help other people develop their gifts, to create a fulfilling artistic life.
In 2006, Erin met local Seattle recording engineer, Garey Shelton, and started recording her debut independent release, "Whores and Fishermen." She finished the 14 song album for release in September 2010. In her 8+ years working with Garey and recording with him as engineer and co-producer, so many wonderful Seattle musicians have played on her albums. She released a 2nd album "A Beer With St. Peter, A Night with St. Nick," in 2012, A very sweet tribute to her late Grandma Marie. She continues to record and network with Garey and other studio musicians regularly. She has started helping her students to access professional recording at Garey Shelton Productions, and has been working as producer on several projects. She is currently working on her 3rd studio album with Garey, and her favorite local studio friends.
Siren Studios, Erin's vocal teaching studio thrived from 2003 to 2013 the Ballard/ Greenwood neighborhood, she moved and re-opened Siren Studios in Leavenworth, WA from 2013 to 2016 and is now relocated to Snohomish, WA. Erin performs weekly as a solo acoustic artist all over Central and Western Washington. She and her musician friends can often be seen in singing in local cafés, pubs and restaurants in Seattle and the surrounding areas. Erin sings mostly folk music and multi-genre: opera, classical, chant, cabaret, jazz standards, music-theater, blues, roots, country, bluegrass, rock, Irish trad, Sean-Nos, Celtic and original music. Her song repertoire consists of somewhere above 400 songs. Just go see her a any of her solo acoustic shows... you'll be smitten!
Photo by Nina Ruchirat