Bon Iver is the primary project of singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Justin Vernon (born April 30th, 1981). Taking its name from the French words bon hiver, meaning “good winter,” the indie folk project began in the winter of 2006 when Vernon retreated to a remote Wisconsin cabin after falling ill and growing frustrated with the direction his music career and life were moving in. When he emerged from the cabin three months later, he had mostly written Bon Iver’s first album, For Emma, Forever Ago (2007). The album was released to widespread acclaim, propelling Vernon to indie stardom.
So began Vernon’s career as Bon Iver, a career that has so far produced four critically-acclaimed albums, one EP, and numerous featured artist and guest appearances. Bon Iver’s self-titled second album was released in 2012 and won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album. The effort also won Bon Iver the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
Bon Iver was followed by 2016’s 22, A Million. The album marked a departure from the band's typical acoustic-driven sound, making heavy use of synthesizers and other digital production techniques. Bon Iver’s most recent album, 2019’s i,i, continued these sonic experimentations while also incorporating elements from the band’s earlier works. i,i was nominated for Album of the Year at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, and the single “Hey Ma” was nominated for Record of the Year.
As a featured artist, Vernon has worked with Taylor Swift, Travis Scott, Francis and the Lights, and more. His most frequent collaborator, however, has been Kanye West, who once called Vernon “one of the baddest white boys on the planet.” Vernon appears on three songs on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010), and four songs on Yeezus (2013). The duo also regularly appear together as featured artists on other people’s records.