Isa Burke (pronounced like Lisa without the L) is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist based in Boston, MA. She spends most of her time as one-third of the powerhouse indie-roots trio Lula Wiles, but she has also made a name for herself as a side musician, educator, writer, and occasional solo performer. Born to folk musician parents in Maine, Isa has spent her life grounded in the Northeast's thriving American roots music community. Her love of folk music began in her childhood at Maine Fiddle Camp and brought her to Boston, where she studied violin performance and songwriting at Berklee College of Music. Her musical life has been a continuous process of finding new modes of expression, from studying Appalachian fiddle with Bruce Molsky to learning all of Lindsey Buckingham's guitar parts for a Rumours tribute show to starting a group dedicated to writing a song every day for a month.
In recent years her songwriting has moved to the forefront of her musical identity, and her songs contain a subtle power, blending the minimalism and grit of traditional folk and country with a modern indie sensibility and an eye for emotive detail. As a writer, Isa seeks to evoke human experiences without shying from complex emotional realities. She is drawn to a song’s satisfyingly surprising moments: the off-kilter rhythm, the unexpected rhyme, the note or chord that doesn’t quite fit but makes your hair stand on end. As an instrumentalist, she weaves textural, evocative lines and rhythms that support her assertive, soulful vocals. She is a collaborator at heart, drawing inspiration from the interlocking grooves of the fiddle and banjo or the alchemic harmony of a country duet.
In addition to her recording and touring with Lula Wiles, she has performed and recorded on fiddle, vocals, and acoustic and electric guitars with artists including Session Americana, Corporate Punk, Caitlin Canty, Stash Wyslouch, and many others. Her influences are numerous, beginning with old fiddle tunes and folk ballads and encompassing contemporary artists from Joni Mitchell to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings to Sam Amidon to Courtney Barnett. Driven by a love of good songs above all else, Isa is "as versatile a musician as they come, and a true showwoman who commands the stage and the audience’s attention" (Red Line Roots).
When she's not performing and recording, Isa teaches at camps, festivals, and the Passim School of Music. She also works for roots authority No Depression: writing a twice-monthly column focusing on her experiences as a musician, and doing community management and social media work.