Siblings Emma and Bryan McDowell are rising stars in Western North Carolina music. Both learned fiddle from Arvil Freeman, and went on to teach themselves several more instruments. As performers, Emma and Bryan trade off on fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and bass, and share the lead vocals. They are also accomplished songwriters, individually and as partners, and have learned a great deal about gospel and bluegrass singing from one of their mentors, Dale Ann Bradley,
Growing up, the McDowells were part of a family band, and they represent the fourth generation of a family musical tradition. Their parents Steve and Donna are both musicians, and Donna’s grandfather and great-uncles performed and recorded in the 1940s as the South Florida Ranch Boys. Steve’s grandfather was a banjo player and a member of a mandolin orchestra in the 1920s and ’30s.
Emma and Bryan’s most recent recording, The Triple Fiddle Album, is a collaboration with their mentor Arvil Freeman. The McDowell Family Band recorded two CDs as well, Precious Memories and Old Traditions, New Faces.
Emma and Bryan have both won or placed in numerous prestigious instrumental and vocal competitions, including contests at the North Carolina and Georgia Mountain State Fairs and Union Grove.
Bryan and Emma McDowell play for festivals, concerts, churches, and at other venues and events, and they offer workshops.