Olivia Chaney (born 1982) is an English folk singer, pianist, guitarist, harmonium player and songwriter. Her debut solo album, The Longest River, was released on Nonesuch Records in 2015. Her follow-up solo album, Shelter, was released on Nonesuch on June 15, 2018.[1]

Olivia Chaney
Olivia Chaney 2013.jpg
Background information
Born1982 (age 37–38)
Florence, Italy
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, musician
InstrumentsVocals, piano, guitar, harmonium
Years active2004–present
LabelsNonesuch Records
Associated actsAlasdair Roberts, Concerto Caledonia, The Labèque Sisters, London Sinfonietta, Zero 7, Rodney P, Seth Lakeman, Wolf People, Kronos Quartet, Offa Rex


Olivia Chaney was born in Florence, Italy, and grew up in Oxford, England, studying composition, piano and voice.[2] Early influences include her father's record collections and his own renditions of early blues and '60s folk songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Fairport Convention and Bert Jansch.[3]

At 14, Chaney won a joint-first piano and voice scholarship to Chetham's School of Music in Manchester, which was focused on the classical repertoire. She then went on to attend the Royal Academy of Music in London, also on scholarship, where, as an improviser and songwriter, she studied in the jazz course. While at the Academy, Chaney spent much of her time experimenting and collaborating outside the traditional jazz course.[4]


On graduating from the Academy, Chaney taught herself guitar and Indian harmonium, and began performing regularly as a soloist. She has also worked as an actress and singer/multi-instrumentalist at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in Matthew Dunster's acclaimed production of Troilus and Cressida, and Lucy Bailey and Django Bates' production of Timon of Athens.[5][6] Chaney has collaborated and shared stages all over the world with artists, composers, producers and bands including Robert Plant, The Decemberists, Kronos Quartet, Zero 7, Alasdair Roberts, Concerto Caledonia and The Labèque Sisters.

In 2010, Chaney recorded a self-released EP.[7] In 2011, she contributed to two compilations for grassroots label Folk Police.[8][9] She also performed on the live release Revenge of the Folksingers with Scottish artist Alasdair Roberts and period performance group Concerto Caledonia on the Delphian label.[10] Chaney has performed with the Balearic Folk Orchestra, for whom she sang, arranged and played harmonium and piano on the group's Amy Winehouse cover, "He Can Only Hold Her", for a Q Magazine tribute.[4] She featured in Alasdair Roberts's 2013 album A Working Wonder Stone. [11]

In November 2013, Olivia Chaney was nominated for two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards: the Horizon Award and Best Original Song, for "Swimming in the Longest River", which is featured on her self-released eponymous EP.[12] At the same time, it was announced that Chaney had signed a record deal with Nonesuch Records.[3]

Chaney's debut album, The Longest River, was released on Nonesuch Records on 28 April 2015.[13] This release, which The Guardian hailed as "an enchanting and stately creation", was noted in a number of 'Best of 2015' lists[14] (including Uncut, Mojo and PopMatters).[15][16] The Independent featured it in their Top 5 Albums of the Year, calling it "a landmark release".[17]

In 2017, Chaney was featured singing two songs on Folk Songs, an album with Kronos Quartet, and collaborated with American indie-folk band The Decemberists to release The Queen of Hearts, a joint album of reworked folk tracks under the name Offa Rex. In December 2017, it was announced that their collaborative record had been nominated for a Grammy Award by the Recording Academy for Best Folk Album.[18][18][19][20]

Olivia Chaney released a new solo album, Shelter, on Nonesuch Records on June 15, 2018. The album, which was produced by Thomas Bartlett, includes original songs that Chaney wrote in her family cottage in the hills of the North York Moors, as well as her performance of "Long Time Gone," written by Frank Harford and Tex Ritter and first recorded by The Everly Brothers, and Henry Purcell's "O Solitude."[1]

In July 2019, Olivia Chaney was nominated as BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards' Folk Singer of The Year.[21]

On September 30, 2019, Chaney was invited to play at Richard Thompson's 70th Birthday Celebration at the Royal Albert Hall in London. She sang Sandy Denny's song "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" and her own "House on the Hill."[22]


  • EP (2010)
  • Hearts & Minds (with Seth Lakeman; Virgin Records, 2010)
  • The Oak, Ash and Thorn Project (Folk Police, 2011)
  • The Woodbine & Ivy Band (Folk Police, 2011)
  • Revenge of the Folksingers (with Concerto Caledonia; Delphian, 2011)
  • The Future (with Rodney P; Low Life Records, 2004)
  • A Wonder Working Stone (with Alasdair Roberts & Friends; Drag City, 2013)
  • Fain (with Wolf People; Jagjaguwar, 2013)
  • The Longest River (Nonesuch Records, 2015)
  • Folk Songs (with Kronos Quartet; Nonesuch Records, 2017)
  • The Queen of Hearts (as Offa Rex with The Decemberists; Nonesuch Records, 2017)
  • Shelter (Nonesuch Records, 2018)


  1. ^ a b "Olivia Chaney's New Album, "Shelter," Out Now on Nonesuch". Nonesuch.com. Nonesuch Records. 15 June 2018. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  2. ^ Philip Ward. "Olivia Chaney". Brush on Drum. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Nonesuch Records Signs BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Nominee Olivia Chaney and Releases Debut Album in 2014". Nonesuch.com. Nonesuch Records. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  4. ^ a b Chipping, Tim (June 2013). "A Voice in a Million". fRoots.
  5. ^ Mark Shenton (2 June 2009). "Olivier Winner Kelly Joins Cast of Shakespeare Globe's Troilus and Cressida". Playbill.com. Playbill. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  6. ^ "Lovely sounds for TravellingLight … Olivia Chaney: London". Travelling Light. 31 March 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  7. ^ "Olivia Chaney in session". The Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe. BBC Radio 2. 22 May 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  8. ^ "The Oak, Ash and Thorn Project". Folk Police Recordings. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  9. ^ "The Woodbine & Ivy Band". Folk Police Recordings. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  10. ^ Colin Irwin (2011). "BBC Music Album Review: Concerto Caledonia: Revenge of the Folksingers". Folk Police Recordings. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  11. ^ Ben Graham (24 January 2013). "Review: Alasdair Roberts & Friends: Wonder Working Stone". The Quietus. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  12. ^ "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Nominees List". BBC Radio 2. BBC. 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  13. ^ "Nonesuch Releases Olivia Chaney's Debut Album, "The Longest River," on April 28". Nonesuch.com. Nonesuch Records. 10 March 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  14. ^ Spencer, Neil (12 April 2015). "Olivia Chaney: The Longest River review – an enchanting, stately creation". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  15. ^ "The Best Albums Of 2015 – The Uncut Top 50 - Uncut". Uncut. 18 December 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  16. ^ "Olivia Chaney, Rhiannon Giddens, The Bad Plus Joshua Redman Make Year's Best Lists from Uncut, Mojo - Nonesuch Records". Nonesuch Records Official Website. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  17. ^ "Best rock and pop of 2015: Five top artists and one turkey". The Independent. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  18. ^ a b ""Folk Songs" with Kronos Quartet and Singers Sam Amidon, Olivia Chaney, Rhiannon Giddens, Natalie Merchant Out Now on Nonesuch". Nonesuch.com. Nonesuch Records. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  19. ^ "Offa Rex—New Project from Olivia Chaney, The Decemberists—Release "The Queen of Hearts," Out Now on Nonesuch". Nonesuch.com. Nonesuch Records. 14 July 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Offa Rex, Randy Newman, "Lulu" Nominated for Grammy Awards". Nonesuch.com. Nonesuch Records. 28 November 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  21. ^ "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2019 returns in October to Manchester". BBC.co.uk. BBC. 31 July 2019. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  22. ^ "Richard Thompson 70th Birthday Celebration — a folk-rock convention at the Royal Albert Hall London". FT.com. Financial Times. 1 October 2019. Retrieved 5 December 2019.