O'Donovan grew up on Newton, Massachusetts. Her parents were both musicians, and her father was the host of a Celtic music program in Boston. While in high school, she spent her summers studying traditional Celtic music and dance in Ireland. O'Donovan attended the New England Conservatory of Music and graduated in 2003. While there she studied contemporary improvisation. She also dreamed of recording her own album, and came up with a short list of producers.
In 2001, she was a founding member of Crooked Still. After five studio offerings and a live album, along with international touring, the group went on an extended -- though reportedly temporary -- hiatus in 2011 so its members could pursue individual projects. In 2003, O'Donovan performed and recorded as part of the Wayfaring Strangers with Matt Glaser, Tony Trishka, Jamey Haddad, Jim Whitney, Andy Statman, and John McGann, as well as two other female lead singers: Tracy Bonham and future musical partner Ruth Ungar. In 2005 she formed Sometymes Why, the quirky "folk noir" trio with Ungar, and Kristin Andreassen; they've recorded two albums.
O'Donovan has been an in-demand musician since leaving school. She has become a go-to vocalist in the American contemporary folk, bluegrass, and progressive Americana scenes, working with Jerry Douglas, Sarah Jarosz, Darol Anger, the Infamous Stringdusters, and Matuto, in addition to those listed above.
During the Crooked Still break, O'Donovan made good on her dream. She signed to Yep-Roc and cut her debut album, Fossils, with Tucker Martine as producer -- he was at the top of her college short list. The record was issued in June of 2013. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi