Modern Folk Music Artists You Need to Know

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Get to know some of the best modern folk music artists out there that you need to start listening to. You won’t regret it!


Who is considered a folk musician?

The definition of folk music is often debated, but in general, it can be described as music that is passed down orally, music with unknown composers, or music that is specific to a certain region or culture. Folk musicians are often considered to be part of theroots music scene, meaning their music is based on traditional sounds. However, many modern folk musicians have incorporated different genres and influences into their music to create something unique.

Here are some modern folk musicians you should know:

1. Passenger
English singer-songwriter Passenger (real name Michael Rosenberg) is best known for his hit song “Let Her Go,” which has been viewed over one billion times on YouTube. His music is a mix of acoustic folk and pop and his lyrics often tell stories of travel and love. He has released eight studio albums, the most recent being Runaway in 2019.

2. Gregory Alan Isakov
Colorado-based singer-songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov has been described as “a modern poet” and his lyrics have a way of transporting listeners to another place. His musical style incorporates indie folk, rock, and country and he often uses banjo and steel guitar in his songs. He has released five studio albums, the most recent being Evening Machines in 2018.

3. The Paper Kites
The Paper Kites are an indie folk band from Melbourne, Australia who began as a bedroom project by band members Sam Bentley and Christina Lacy. The band’s sound has been compared to Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons and their lyrics often deal with themes of love and loss. They have released four studio albums, the most recent being On the Line in 2019.

The history of folk music

Folk music has been around for centuries, with its origins stemming from the working class of Europe. Folk music was originally made by people who had to work hard to make a living, and it was used as a way to tell their stories and express their emotions. Over time, folk music has evolved and there are now many different subgenres. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular modern folk music artists.

Early folk music

Folk music has its roots in the oral tradition of cultures around the world. For centuries, folk music has been passed down from one generation to the next, often serving as a reflection of the history and culture of a particular region or community.

One of the earliest known examples of folk music comes from ancient Greece. The Homeric Hymns, a collection of thirty-three songs dedicated to the Greek gods, are thought to date back to the 7th century BCE. These hymns, many of which were likely sung by wandering minstrels, provide insights into the daily lives and beliefs of the ancient Greeks.

In medieval Europe, folk music took on a number of different forms. troubadours and jongleurs were professional musicians who travelled from town to town, performing songs that told stories of love, loss, and adventure. Traveling minstrels also played an important role in spreading news and information across Europe. In addition to performing for audiences, many minstrels also worked as spies, passing along information they had gathered while on their travels.

During the Renaissance, folk music began to take on a more formal structure. Known as madrigals, these songs were often written for four or more voices and were typically about love or nature. Many of the most famous madrigals were composed by Italian composer Franco Sacchetti.

While folk music has undergone many changes over the centuries, it has always maintained its connection to the oral tradition. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in folk music, with artists like Bob Dylan and Tracy Chapman helping to popularize modern folk music.

The folk music revival

The folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s brought the music of earlier generations of folk musicians to a new audience. Musicians such as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Bob Dylan became popular interpretations of traditional songs, and their music had a profound impact on the development of rock and roll. The folk music revival also helped to revitalize interest in the music of other cultures, including British, Irish, Scottish, and African American musicians.

Modern folk music artists

The folk music scene has been growing steadily in recent years, with a new crop of artists carrying on the tradition of story-telling and social commentary through song. If you’re looking to broaden your musical horizons, here are some modern folk music artists you need to know.

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Detroit, Michigan. He first came to national attention with his album “A Sun Came”, which was released on the Asthmatic Kitty label in 2000. He has since released a number of critically acclaimed albums, including “Enjoy Your Rabbit” (2001), “Seven Swans” (2004), “The Age of Adz” (2010), and “Carrie & Lowell” (2015). His most recent album, “The Greatest Gift”, is a collection of outtakes, demos, and remixes from the “Carrie & Lowell” sessions.

Fleet Foxes

If you’re looking for modern folk music artists who are keeping the genre alive and well, look no further than Fleet Foxes. This Seattle-based band is fronted by Robin Pecknold, who writes the group’s catchy melodies and stirring lyrics. The band’s self-titled debut album was released to critical acclaim in 2008, and they followed it up with another winner, Helplessness Blues, in 2011. Fleet Foxes’ sound is a throwback to the ‘60s and ‘70s folk rock of bands like The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, but with a modern twist that makes their music irresistible.

Bon Iver

Bon Iver is an American indie folk band founded in 2006 by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. Vernon released Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago independently in July 2007. The majority of that album was recorded while Vernon spent three months in a cabin in northwestern Wisconsin. Bon Iver won the 2012 Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album for their self-titled album Bon Iver, Bon Iver.

The future of folk music

Folk music is seeing a resurgence in popularity in recent years. If you’re a fan of modern folk music, here are some artists you need to know.

The Lumineers are an American folk rock band from Denver, Colorado. Their debut album was released in 2012 to critical and commercial success. The album peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and has been certified platinum in the United States.

Mumford & Sons are a British indie folk band from London, England. The band’s debut album was released in 2009 to great success. It peaked at number 4 on the UK Albums Chart and has been certified 3x platinum by the British Phonographic Industry.

The Avett Brothers are an American folk rock band from North Carolina. The band’s debut album was released in 2002, but they gained wider attention with the release of their major label debut in 2007. The album peaked at number 16 on the Billboard 200 chart and has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

The Head and the Heart are an American indie folk band from Seattle, Washington. The band’s self-titled debut album was released in 2010 to great acclaim. It peaked at number 10 on the Billboard 200 chart and has been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

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