Emmanuelle Parrenin is a French folk singer, harpist and hurdy-gurdy player who was first active in the late 1960s and 1970s as part of "le mouvement folk". Parrenin was born into a family steeped in classical music: her mother played the harp and her father the violin, and studied ballet as child. She expanded her musical horizons during her teenage years, and was influenced by meeting Eric Clapton and The Yardbirds, during a visit to England while a teenager. At age 19, she met the hurdy-gurdy player Christian Gour'han, René Zosso, and Alan Stivell at Le Bourbon folk club. She and others travelled to remote regions of France and other Francophone countries including Canada to record folksongs. The recordings were donated to the Musée de l'Homme and the Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires. In 1974 Parrenin released an album with Phil Fromont called "La Maurmariée", developing a "reputation for stark and intelligent interpretations of traditional music."
With Fromont and Claude Lefebvre, Parrenin released a second, more progressive, album "Chateau Dans Les Nuages" in 1976, with included "Eastern elements and general strangeness".
Her only solo album, "Maison Rose" was released in 1977. The title refers to the house she grew up in, and the musical influences she imbibed there. The album took "the revived instruments of le mouvement folk out into new territory". The album was re-released in 2001 developed an international cult following.
After the album's release, Parrenin moved away from folk music. She later explained "It was a time when, firstly, it [folk music] was becoming very fashionable and there wasn't the same spirit as there had been at the beginning. There was a lot of what we call in France 'un esprit de chapelle'; it was very purist and I don't think I'm like that. I liked it when it felt alive, and when that went I was bored." She began writing music for contemporary dance, and returned to dancing. She also taught herself to play the harp.
In 1993, a fire damaged her hearing, and she was no longer able to perform. Told that she had lost her hearing permanently, she moved to the Alps, and as self-therapy she began playing and singing again. As her hearing improved she used the techniques she had learned with others including with people with autism and psychiatric disorders.
In March 2011 Parrenin released a new album, "Maison Cube". The title refers to the cube-shaped house where it was recorded.