Nora Brown: A Rising Star in the Banjo World

Nora Brown is someone to keep your eye on. Indeed, at a young age, she is already turning heads. Hailing out of Brooklyn, New York, Nora has played festivals all over the country. Don’t let Brooklyn throw you off (no offense Brooklyn-ites). While having urban origins, Nora plays old-time traditional music with a particular interest in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee banjo playing. In addition to the banjo, she’s interested in techniques of unaccompanied ballads from the Southeast region of the United States. She’s also a singer and songwriter and started writing/performing at a young age.

Banjo inspiration: Cinnamon Tree (2019)

Nora Loved Music from an Early Age

Exposed to the banjo and old-time music by her mother, she quickly fell in love with the instrument. She started learning music at the age of 6 from the late Shlomo Pestcoe. During their lessons at his studio apartment in Brooklyn, Pestcoe instilled in her the belief that music is meant to be shared and techniques/songs passed on through the oral tradition. 

Young Nora in NYC - Getty Images

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Nora's Style Celebrates the Influence of Old-Time Music

Lee Sexton and George Gibson, both legends in the world of old-time music, were significant influences on her. Through lessons and interactions, they passed on their knowledge, shaping her musical style. Moreover, Brown frequently cites the importance of learning directly from older generations.

Nora’s debut album, “Cinnamon Tree” (above), released when she was just 13, is a testament to her prowess and great things to come. Honestly, thirteen years of age? Do yourself a favor and listen to the album right now. This collection of traditional songs and ballads certainly showcases her deep connection with the roots of the music.

Nora Shines as a Storyteller and Performer

​She is a natural in front of an audience, and her storytelling ability, coupled with her musical talent, transports listeners to a bygone era, therefore allowing them to experience the rich history of old-time music. As she’s grown older, she’s added the guitar to her repertoire. Additionally, she is collaborating with more artists as well as playing bigger and bigger venues. She also has performed on many outlets known for teasing out amazing talent (i.e. NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts).

Nora Brown performs at SiriusXM Studios on August 10, 2023_ Getty

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Her 2022 album, “Long Time To Be Gone,” shows her deep connection to the roots of old-time music as well as her growth as both a banjo player and an artist.

Banjo Inspiration: Long Time To Be Gone (2022)

Images below, courtesy of Getty Images and norabrownmusic.com

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