A native West Virginian, Emily Lehr finds comfort in the tradition of her Appalachian roots while maintaining her own spin on her sound. Borrowing the storytelling traditions and mellow timbres of Carole King and Joni Mitchell, Lehr sings to the current generation while incorporating echoes of the past in addition to finding inspiration in modern influences such as Lizzy McAlpine and Madison Cunningham in tone and introspective songwriting. Lehr began singing and making music as soon as she could talk and began writing songs in elementary school. As a music therapy and Appalachian music student at West Virginia University, Lehr came into her own as a vocalist and writer, supported by mentors and friends along the way. Most notable was her time with Grammy nominated artist and Mountain Stage host Kathy Mattea to discuss songwriting, performing, and life in Nashville. Lehr considers these meetings the catalyst of her push to move to Nashville and professionally pursue songwriting and performing.
Lehr released her first full length project, The Drive Home, in collaboration with Morgantown, WV’s Mon Hills Records in April 2021. Earning 1.7k streams in the first week of its release, The Drive Home serves as a love letter to West Virginia and tackles themes of home, family, and the complexities of grappling with faith and self-discovery. Following The Drive Home, Lehr released “Instagram” as a stand-alone single in December 2021. With 1.3k streams on Spotify, “Instagram” is a moody lament decorated with the mandolin and guitar riffs and the steady upright bass of Morgantown musicians John Posey, Alex Heflin, and Mason Atha. In early 2022, Lehr began working with producer and recording engineer Zach McCord out of Bridgeport, WV to record the single “Take My Time,” released in September of that year. “Take My Time” takes a turn from the foundation Lehr built with her first releases to a more electric and dreamy fluency, paying homage to the likes of “Butterflies” by Kacey Musgraves and “Apple Pie” by Lizzy McAlpine. Despite her familiar sound, Lehr is continuously exploring new styles and themes, as will be evident in her sophomore album set to release toward the end of 2023.
Notable venues and performances include Lehr’s 2023 Sad-Alachia Summer tour with singer-songwriter Ryan Brandenburg, with performances at Gene’s Beer Garden in Morgantown, WV and Tennessee Brew Works in Nashville, TN, as well as stops in Fayetteville, WV; Shepherdstown, WV; Ypsilanti, MI; Cleveland, OH; and Chicago, IL. Lehr’s tunes have also soundtracked spaces such as Cafe Coco in Nashville, TN; WVU’s Mountaineer Week Up All Night; Thunderbird Cafe & Music Hall in Pittsburgh, PA opening for Will Hoge; 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown, WV opening for Charles Wesley Godwin’s How the Mighty Fall release show with Lehr’s folk trio The Honeysuckle Vines; and The Davisson Brothers Birthday Bash with The Honeysuckle Vines in Clarksburg, WV.