Nora Brown started learning uke at age 6 from the late Shlomo Pestcoe. With a focus on old time music he laid a foundation of love of music and the community it creates. He instilled in her the lesson that music is meant to be shared. Now 15 years old, Nora plays banjo and sings ballads – She plays solo and also with many of her mentors including her friend, fiddler Stephanie Coleman, as a duet under the name Little Leatherwood.
Today, Nora Brown is being mentored by many of her favorite old-time musicians including Alice Gerrard, Lee Sexton, Anna Roberts-Gevalt, Sammy Lind, Mark Simos, KC Groves, Courtney Hartman, Mac Traynham, John Haywood and Brett Ratliff. One of her most important mentors is the late John Cohen. In the last 3 years, Nora has won blue ribbons in the youth banjo competition at the Clifftop Appalachian String Band Music Festival in West Virginia. In 2018 she also placed 3rd in the Adult Banjo Finals at Clifftop. In July 2019 she received 1st place in the Folk Song competition (all ages) at the 52nd Annual Grayson County OldTime and Bluegrass Fiddlers Convention in Elk Creek,VA. She has taught both beginning and advanced banjo at the famed Ashokan Center’s long-standing oldtime camp known as Southern Week. Nora continues to travel and learn from old masters and regularly to eastern Kentucky to visit with 90-year-old master banjo player and former coal miner Lee Sexton and master banjo player and historian George Gibson. Nora sings ballads and plays traditional music with a heavy interest in eastern Kentucky and Tennessee banjo playing.
She has played the Floyd Radio Show in Floyd VA., the Washington Square Park Folk Festival, Brooklyn Folk Festival, Brooklyn Americana Festival, Oldtone Roots Music Festival, both Summer and Winter Hoots at the Ashokan Center, NYC Trad Fest and has had multiple month-long residencies at famed Barbès in Brooklyn, NY.
In October 2019, Nora released her first record of 11 traditional songs and tunes called Cinnamon Tree, produced by Alice Gerrard. The record was released on Jalopy Records and pressed by Third Man Pressing in Detroit. It is only available on limited edition vinyl with a digital download.
Nora Brown has been on the cover of the Banjo Newsletter Magazine and has been published in Sing Out! “Murder Ballad Monday” and more recently The Bluegrass Situation: Roots Culture Redefined‘s “10 Young Banjo Players You Aren’t Paying Enough Attention To”. The Bluegrass Situation said: “Little Nora Brown has a host of roots music legends pouring out of her fingertips and through her lips.”
The Tribeca Film Festival funded a short documentary by Josh Weinstein about Nora called “Little Nora (the Banjo Prodigy)”