Elizabeth Etta is a singer-songwriter from Kyoto, Japan, who moved to Central Coast, California, in 2015. She is a member of the Japanese band Pirates Canoe, a folk, roots and Americana band that has toured from Tokyo, Japan, to the east coast of the United States. They were featured in Esquire Magazine as one of the top ten acts seen at SWSX, where they were an official showcasing act on three separate occasions. They were also spotlighted in Rolling Stone Magazine, where Elizabeth’s voice was compared to Alison Krauss. In 2010, MTV Iggy produced two videos for them as an international band with momentum and star value.
Elizabeth’s story starts off in Japan where she was born. Soon after her birth, the family moved to her father’s hometown of Hot Springs, Arkansas, where Elizabeth spent the next ten years. Her father, Owen, took the family across the country to attend arts and crafts fairs where her parents sold oil and watercolor paintings. Being on the road throughout the south and learning the classic songs of an older America through her father, a singer-songwriter himself, she was able to experience the country though music.
These experiences shine through in her ability to tell stories through song, a nostalgic and timeless art. Elizabeth’s favorite songs are a collection of traditional tunes from as far back as the mid-1800s. These songs deliver a once forgotten character of family and the struggles of a young America.
Elizabeth is also a prolific songwriter. Her original songs are inspired by real people and experiences. Some of her characters are based on Japanese townspeople she met during her time there. Take, for example, “The Gate,” the story of an old lady always standing in her yard by her front gate, watching life pass before her in her ending years. Or “Matty Malloy,” a middle-aged man, kind hearted but unnoticed and trying his best to survive life. The songs resonate across oceans and landscapes and are easily relatable, delivered with her gentle style and pure voice, often compared to Nora Jones and Emmylou Harris.
Elizabeth, now living on the Central Coast of California, continues to write and perform. Her songs are now inspired by the beautiful coastlines and quaint small-town charm of places like Santa Margarita and Edna Valley, where she lives on a small ranch with her husband and one-year-old daughter. “My life has taken me many places and I suspect it will continue to do so in the future. My songs come from all of these places I visit.”
Praise for Pirates Canoe
“Even the hippest of SXSW hipsters probably haven’t heard of Pirates Canoe, but with a sound that’s Alison Krauss-meets-Ry Cooder-meets Alan Toussaint, they’re the skinny jeans from Japan that are destined to be fashionable stateside soon. The sometimes trio, other times sextet, mixes a dollop of Irish folk with a helping of fiddle, mandolin, guitar and percussion that beautifully complement — but never overwhelm — the singers’ ethereal harmonies. Though based in Japan, the members met in a very Americana way; the story of Pirates Canoe’s inception involves a bar, a violin case and a few adult beverages. That’s not to say that the band has completely shucked its Asian roots for Nashville though. Consider “Gull Flying North,” an uptempo mandolin romp that has just enough delicate tones to bring the Far East to mind.” – Rolling Stone Magazine
“Because who knew that an Americana act from Kyoto, Japan, looks significantly odder on paper than it sounds in practice? Half a song in and it’s not the novelty, but the songcraft and playing that grabs and holds your attention. If only half of what East Nashville is churning out right now seemed this authentically heartfelt.” – esquire magazine
“… Pirates Canoe has been lulling the masses with classy Americana a la Alison Krauss, the kind that gives you a pit in your stomach because it’s like the heavens opened and bestoweth divine, majestic song.” – MTV Iggy