News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters woman pursuing her music

Megan Ellsworth has been singing and playing guitar since she was a little girl running around the woods of Camp Sherman. Ellsworth, a Sisters High School graduate, class of 2016, is entering her last semester of college at the University of Colorado in Denver.

Ellsworth is double-majoring in songwriting and music business. Her majors are working together to further her career in the music business as a self-made singer-songwriter and performer.

Ellsworth knew she wanted to be a performer from a young age.

“I was never really good at anything else, and I’ve always been passionate about music and the arts and I like to work in many areas of the music world and be in that creative space,” she said.

Ellsworth attended Black Butte School for elementary and middle school before transferring to Sisters High School for her freshman year. From the beginning, she was in the Americana Project class, which she said helped prepare her well for her musical future. The IEE program at SHS was another huge influence on Ellsworth, pairing arts with the outdoors where she extended her creative space.

“Colorado is a really outdoorsy place, similar to Oregon, so all my time in IEE taught me wilderness skills and I hike all the time there now,” she said.

The Americana Project class is where Ellsworth could really hone her skills and become a leader in the class. Ellsworth found that it was a really good place to make industry connections with guest artists that came into the class, partnering with Sisters Folk Festival.

She was a part of a number of Americana Project CDs, with her own original material being recorded for the first time. Now, she is in the process of recording her band’s record and her own solo record.

“Americana really helped me build up my musical skin. I wanted to get my songs torn to shreds and critiqued. I learned to not be so precious with my songs and build up my tough skin,” she said.

Ellsworth participated in the Sisters Folk Festival throughout her high school career and continues to do so. Ellsworth attended a number of Americana Song Academy classes and felt as if the song camp experiences and festival overall was a huge influence on her and her career.

“The folk fest had a huge impact on me, and now I am able to come back older and wiser and still participate in it,” said Ellsworth.

She also found that the folk festival community extends further than Oregon.

“I’ve been able to meet people and bands at shows that know about the festival and how special it is, so that’s been really awesome,” she said.

During her time at the University of Colorado, Ellsworth formed her own folk/Americana band. She, Alana Margolis, and Katie Smith all met in their music ensemble class —which she described as glorified Americana Project. During their time in this class together, they were paired up often and became fast friends. The two band members joined Ellsworth on the Americana stage during the 2018 Sisters Folk Festival. The band was originally called Brother, after a phrase they had said to one another a lot, “Hey brother.”

That name didn’t stick. During song camp, Ellsworth’s mom, Heidi Ellsworth, her aunt, and the three girls were sitting by the lake brainstorming names. They wanted to do something involving “sister” because of their connection and the connection with Sisters. Heidi, then said, “how about Sister Neapolitan, like the ice cream, because of your three different hair colors.”

And that is the name that stuck. Sister Neapolitan has now been together for two years and has been touring as openers for bands. They are recording in Denver with a professor from the University. They also headlined a show in Denver over the summer. Ellsworth also works and tours, doing her own solo stuff playing small shows. She got to open for Sisters Folk Festival performers Sway Wild in the fall.

“We play mostly West Coast shows and are openers for gigs and bands but we have been able to play a lot of shows in our area,” said Ellsworth.

This summer they went on a full tour together, working with Sofar Sounds, a music startup company based in London that now works in the U.S. They are a “listening room” company — they book bands for smaller venues and house concerts.

“Sofar Sounds helped us book small venues and house shows around the West Coast,” said Ellsworth.

Ellsworth is currently working on podcasts and video editing on her own. She produces and hosts her own podcast working with Roofer’s Coffee Company in Denver, where she interviews songwriters and makes it sound good. She is continuing her own solo work as well as working toward releasing the Sister Neapolitan EP in March of 2020.

“I am working on recording the album with one of my professors from school, and we have already released a couple singles,” she said.

Ellsworth, after graduation, plans to stay in Colorado for awhile and will be on tour with the band in June. She will release her solo record in July.

Ellsworth is grateful for her experience with the Americana Project and Sisters Folk Festival during her high school career, and is thankful for how it prepared her for her future musical career in college and beyond.

“It was like being welcomed in a beautiful family,” she said.


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