Tim Eriksen's work as an ethnomusicologist and teacher has included extensive research on shape-note music in New England and the venerable Sacred Harp four-part harmony tradition. He is a founder of what is currently the world's largest Sacred Harp singing convention, in Northampton, MA. In the words of Paste Magazine editor Josh Jackson, "no one has done more to help revive Sacred Harp singing ...."
“One of the best singers in music”
-T Bone Burnett
“Among the world’s finest folk practitioners”
“The best ballad singer of his generation”
While Eriksen's curiosity and passion have led him on many musical journeys besides American roots, all his explorations are linked by the qualities of intensity, directness, and authority which combine in music that captures a truth about human experience and expresses it without apology.
Tim Eriksen is acclaimed for transforming American tradition with his startling interpretations of old ballads, love songs, shape-note gospel and dance tunes from New England and Southern Appalachia. He combines hair-raising vocals with inventive accompaniment on banjo, fiddle, guitar and bajo sexto - a twelve string Mexican acoustic bass - creating a distinctive hardcore Americana sound that ranges from the bare bones of solo unaccompanied singing on Soul of the January Hills through the stripped-down voice and bajo sexto Christmas album Star in the East to the lush, multi-layered arrangements on Josh Billings Voyage, an album of northern roots American music from the imaginary village of Pumpkintown.
Eriksen has taught college courses including American Balladry, Global Sounds, Film Music from Hollywood to Bollywood, American Music, and Songwriting at Dartmouth College, Amherst College, Smith College, The University of Minnesota, Hampshire College and Wesleyan University. In addition, he has taught hundreds of hour- to week-long workshops and seminars in shape-note harmony singing, American music history, ballad singing and instrumental accompaniment at festivals, universities, museums and arts centers, including the Smithsonian Institution, Harvard University, the Society for Ethnomusicology Convention, Colours of Ostrava Festival (Czech Republic), Camp Fasola (Anniston, AL) and the Early Music Festival in Jaroslaw, Poland. His students have ranged from a group of kindergarteners at an inner city school in Portland, Oregon to Nicole Kidman, Elvis Costello, Sting and a group of fifty Romanian extras in the film Cold Mountain and the senior citizen members of the now legendary Young at Heart Chorus.