Clare Horgan - A Singer Apart

"Clare is one of those people who has a natural alignment with music. A custodian of her native culture, she is generous with her craft, and the songs come easily. She has that capacity to silence a room with her songs, where all present join her on that journey. Bean Uasal".
Liam O Maonlaí of Hothouse Flowers.

Originally from Waterville, on the breathtakingly beautiful Ring of Kerry, Clare grew up in a bilingual community on the edge of the Irish-Speaking (Gaeltacht) area of Baile ‘n Sceilg. By the age of eleven, Clare had reached national level in the Fleadh Cheoil in the Sean-nós category (unaccompanied singing in the Irish language). From a childhood steeped in the rich tradition of Irish Music, Song, Dance and Culture, Clare changed direction in the mid-90s when she studied for a Post-Graduate Certificate in Jazz and Popular Music at the Leeds College of Music Based in South-Kerry for the past decade, Clare divides her time between her work as a performer and a teacher. A recipient, this week, of her 5th award from the County Council Arts Office, Clare is fast becoming the face of traditional Irish songs in Kerry. A regular contributor to all Local Heritage events from commemorations of Shipwrecks long ago and the laying of the first Transatlantic Cables to Fenian Massacres in Tralee and Maritime adventures off the surrounding coast, Clare is called upon, through the songs she collects, to provide a spell-binding glimpse into the events of long ago, in an accurate and entertaining way.

Current Work
Along with other enthusiasts, Clare is in the process, as her mother did before her, of reviving old archival recordings of Traditional Irish songs from the immediate area, and wasting no time in passing these gems onto her students. Working on her third album, this time Clare is focusing exclusively on the Traditional Irish songs of Iveragh. Selected from hundreds of applicants, Clare has just won a prestigious Touring Award from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Culture Ireland to take these songs on tour to the USA, in a programme entitled Blackbirds, Ballads and Blues. Invitations from dozens of Colleges Festivals and Live Music venues have poured in and Clare arrives in in America this April to begin a tour that will take in New York, Boston, Louisiana and Anchorage. News broke this week of Clare winning yet another award, this time from the Kerry County Council Arts Department, where she has been granted a bursary to attend Annamakerrig Retreat Centre in the gorgeous surroundings of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Monaghan. This will afford Clare the chance to really prepare for her US Tour in April. 2019 see Clare join legendary Irish singer Tim Dennehy at Éigse Brídeoige (St Brigid's Festival) in her native Iveragh, Co Kerry on Friday 1st February, to celebrate the culture and language of South Kerry. Later that weekend, on the 3rd of February, Clare is the featured singer at the Cork Singers Club in the Spailpín Fánach in Cork City. Returning again to Cork on Thursday 7th March. Clare is the invited guest of the hugely talented and quirky singer- songwriter, John Spillane when they will perform together at De Barra's in Clonakilty.

In the Summer of 2017, fresh from a Winter and Spring responsible for the Music Education in a large Secondary School in South Kerry, Clare headed into a Summer packed with a variety of fantastic gigs around Ireland. Performing the National Anthem at a memorial to those who lost their lives at sea, Clare serenaded the Irish Prime Minister, (or Taoiseach) Enda Kenny and the staff of the Irish Coast Guard Service, before a huge crowd. At the prestigious 5-star Galway's Glenlo Abbey, Clare coordinated the Traditional Music at the Wedding Ceremony of a former New York Rose of Tralee, where she was accompanied by Harp, Fiddle and Flute. Some other highlights of the Summer included a number of Heritage events, as well as a highly successful concert of eclectic material with the Mo O'Connor trio, covering Jazz, Bluegrass and Traditional Irish, at Tech Amergin Arts Centre in Kerry. This was on top of completing the 8th year of a hugely successful residency at Tig Rosie's in Ballinskelligs. It is here that huge crowds flock every Summer to hear Clare and her excellent band play Traditional Irish tunes and songs for listening and for Set Dancing. Summer 2017 drew to a close with Clare teaming up with Legendary Singer songwriter Donovan of Catch the Wind and Mellow Yellow fame at the Cill Rialaig Art Gallery to entertain a packed room of discerning mixed-media Artists from South Africa and beyond, along with other visitors and locals alike. St Patrick's day 2017 saw Clare share the bill with Pauline Scanlon and the Voice Squad at the Kilkenny Trad festival. A resounding success was the sean-nós singing workshop she ran in Kilkenny Castle and she was delighted, at the close of the workshops, to be invited to sing with the Voice Squad, on their most stunning rendition of the traditional Scottish Song the Parting Glass.

Late 2016 saw Clare winning the Music Award with Kerry County Council, which allowed her to travel to New York to study with legendary singer Janis Siegel from Manhattan Transfer, while travelling around the US hearing some of the best of Music, from Traditional Irish Music to Jazz to Blue grass and Old Timey. It was pure pleasure to hear the greats of the Traditional Irish world in venues as spectacular as The Prudential Building in Downtown Boston or at Battery Place in New York, listening to the sweet sounds of Tony Demarco's Fiddle at the 'New York Trad Fest', while gazing out at the Statue of Liberty. During her too brief trip to the US, Clare had the pleasure of rubbing shoulders with some of the greatest Irish Music ambassadors in the US: Folk-legend Mick Moloney of NYU; Cork Balladeer Jimmy Crowley; Old-school entertainer and supporter of all things musically Irish, Donie Carroll, Galway guitarist, Gabriel O Donoghue and Joanie Madden of "Cherish the Ladies". On the 12th March 2016, Clare herself, provided the musical content of another 1916 Commemoration event, this time presented by Heritage Iveragh, to a packed and appreciative audience at Waterville's Tech Amergin. By interweaving a carefully selected and sensitively performed programme of tunes and songs between speakers and audio visual presentations, she helped to encapsulate the atmosphere of the historic events of a hundred years before. In February 2016, Clare performed on the album "Onóir", a recording of the musical project commissioned by RTE and Gael Linn, a celebration of Ireland's fight for freedom in 1916. This work involved some hauntingly beautiful songs and tunes, written and scored by director and composer Peadar Ó Ríada. Here Clare joined Cór Chúil Aodh, Téada and Uilleann piper Mick O' Brien and a highlight of this project was a musical setting of a Seamus Heaney poem, Móra Dhuit. Live performances of this work included The National Concert Hall in Dublin and the National Events Centre in Killarney.

A planned concert of Onóir, a few weeks later at the European Parliament in Brussels, was aborted, and the plane carrying Clare, her Baile Bhúirne colleagues and Irish political representatives, was diverted, just as it began its descent into Brussels airport, moments after two bombs exploded in the departures area. During three separate trips to the US as a visitor, Clare was really surprised at the excellent standard of traditional Irish Instrumental music in every corner of the States. However, she was struck by the apparent lack of authentic and quality traditional Irish singing in New York, Boston, Louisiana where she spent a good deal of time. In her entire time in America, she did not hear one word of Irish sung. Saddened by the thought that this ancient and precious art form, with which she had grown up and had come to expect to be cherished, was indeed so unrepresented. And so she resolved to return to America, a country that she has grown to love, in order to carry the songs of her home over the seas, and with these songs the language, the stories and the melodies, so utterly unique to Irish Traditional Culture.

August 2015 saw Clare win silver medal at a National Music Contest, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Sligo in the Sean-nós singing category, i nGaeilge and she continues to promote and preserve the unique precious songs of her native Iveragh, at home and abroad. On over-hearing Clare sing a sean-nós song as she walked along the street in Manhattan, one night late in October 2015, John D. Martino, (one of the finest Jazz and world music pianists in the US) was struck by her talent and has invited Clare to collaborate on some film music, involving a fusion of Sean-nós and Jazz. Inspired by hearing her sing a haunting version of the song "Táim cortha bheith i m'aonair im' luí", (I am weary of lying alone), a song collected a century ago, in West Cork's Baile Bhúirne by legendary singer Bess Cronin, he is planning an album of songs with Clare.

In 2014, with a background in Jazz and Traditional Irish music Clare found herself, drawn to Bluegrass and Country songs. Her second CD, Away O'er the Water, released that year, features the fantastic country songs Tennessee Waltz, Killing the blues and You win again along with a hugely energetic take on, "How Blue", the song, first aired by Reba McIntyre. With her first love being the Traditional Irish songs of her native South Kerry, she couldn't resist including some South Kerry songs, including the previously unrecorded "Boatmen of Ardcost" and the hugely popular "Road from Killorglin to Cahersiveen."

In 2013, Clare was delighted to have joined the all-female Sean-Nós choir Cór Ban Chúil Aodha in Baile Bhúirne under the baton of Peadar O Ríada. A year in Limerick in 2010, had Clare teaching on The Limerick Jazz Workshops as well as performing at the wonderful weekend sessions at The Milk Market with the likes of Mickey Dunne and Jackie Daly and as a regular visitor to Dolans, playing Traditional Irish material at the downstairs sessions and upstairs, on occasion, at the Jazz club with her Quartet. With her debut album recorded almost four years earlier, Clare returned home in 2006, from 14 years abroad in London, Leeds and Paris and Beirut, to her native Kerry, at first to Dingle, where she finally launched The Stolen Child. There she played at St James Church, McCarthy's Bar, The Blue Zone and The Courthouse Bar as well as touring festivals and venues in Ireland and abroad. The Summer of 2005 saw Clare in Downtown Beirut where she joined visiting Jazz musicians at the Blue Note. One of the highlights of her trip was a guest spot with Lebanese/Parisian saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh. Clare spent the winter of 2005 and the Spring of 2006 in Paris where she had a residency at The Swan Bar in Montparnasse, accompanied by Arnaud Gransac on piano and Eric Sindorf on acoustic bass.

From a three-year stint in Belfast, Clare moved to London in 2002 and formed the quintet, Luascadh (Swing), a sensitive fusion of traditional Irish Music, Gospel and Jazz. Here Clare teamed up with young Irish musicians including fellow Kerry woman Accordionist Colette O' Leary of the Bumblebees and multi-instrumentalist Tim Edey. Highlights included a regular slot at The National Theatre, The Hammersmith Irish Centre and a guest spot at The 606 Jazz club. In 1999, Clare recorded a 4-track EP with four of the top Jazz Musicians in the UK and former members of The Ronnie Scott Quartet, Dave Newton (Piano); Andrew Cleyndert (Double Bass); Steve Brown (Drums) and Don Patterson (Guitar). Tracks included a soulful rendition of the old Sinatra favourite ln the wee small hours of the morning, Jobim's Bossa Nova, Dindi, a medium swing interpretation of Gershwin's and a Jazz arrangement of the hauntingly beautiful Irish Seán Nós Lament An Leanbh Sí (The Fairy Child) TV appearances include a performance by Clare of the Sean-nós song Sé Fáth mo Bhúartha in the BBC/RTE series The Story of Ireland. Her second album, "Away O'er the Water", featuring some Traditional Irish songs in English from her native South Kerry, as well as some Country and Bluegrass songs is played weekly by National and local Radio and sales continue to soar.

1999 saw Clare living and singing in Northern Ireland and playing at venues and festivals around the country. There, Clare fronted a highly accomplished band of Belfast based musicians on a very successful tour of her native County Kerry, organised by Ceol Uibhráthaigh. The trio comprised Brian Connor - Pianist and former Musical Director of River Dance and West Life; Alan Shields – Double Bass, and interestingly, John Wilson - formerly of Rory Gallagher's band Taste.

Following a Post-Grad Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music in Leeds, Clare was selected by the Yorkshire Transcultural Fund to record a Jazz and Sean-Nós song, "The Stolen Child" which featured top British Jazz musicians including former Ronnie Scott Quartet members and Don Patterson from Dundee. The track An Leanbh Sídhe, (The Fairy Child) was included in an album called "The World in a Square Mile", which was released in Leeds, UK, by Virgin records. Airplay on Radio includes the late John Peel, and Andy Kershaw, BBC Radio, Walter Love from BBC Radio Ulster, Ellen Crannitch and Donald Helme from Lyric FM, Brian O Donovan from WGBH Boston, Matt Murphy from WWOZ in New Orleans, Radio na Gaeltachta and Radio Kerry among others.

In the 1990s, Clare attended the prestigious Leeds College of Music in England, where she trained with leading British Jazz Musicians including Al Wood, Nikki Isles and Pete Churchill. Clare's work encompassed a broad sweep of ensembles from duo work through to Big Band and a 20-strong pop band. While at college, Clare led The Lilting Banshees, her six-piece folk band, appearing at festivals in France and the UK. One of the highlights of her time in Leeds saw her fronting a sixty-strong Gospel choir on songs from traditional Negro Spirituals and Jazz standards to U2 songs and as creator and director of a non-stop 24 hour St Patricks Day festival, she was responsible from growing an event from a 1000-pound budget in the first year to a budget of 60,000 in its third year, with Set Dancing, bodhráns and shamrocks flying and a whole city clamouring to get into a feast of Irish Culture.

Clare's Debut Album, The Stolen Child, combines three separate recordings; the 4 track EP mentioned above, featuring British Jazz musicians Andy Cleyndert, Dave Newton, Steve Brown and Don Patterson, with a three track recording made earlier at Frank McNamara's Studio in Meath, with leading Irish Jazz musicians including Bassist Dave Fleming and Tenor Saxophonist, Richie Buckley and is rounded off with two Traditional Irish Songs, taken from a recording on Television in Dublin at the very start of Clare's career. This album shows Clare to have an equal competence and love for the traditional Irish music with which she was reared and the Jazz she adopted as an adult. While you must have a copy of these recording to take home and cherish, do not miss the chance to hear Clare in live performance! Here she has an ability to stop an audience in their tracks, taking them on an unforgettable journey across a series of landscapes, emotional and musical. In one song, Clare will draw you into the mystical world of pre-Christian Ireland; in the next song, you will find yourself sharing a laugh, hearing her admonish a misbehaving man in a raunchy blues number and before you know it, you have stepped into a dimly-lit jazz club in 1940s New York, sharing in the heartache of lost love. Her versatility and skill are infused with a voice that is warm and a tone that is pure and unaffected. But whatever genre of music you are drawn to, you will never forget the first time that you hear Clare sing a traditional Irish unaccompanied song where she seems to lose herself completely in the powerful ancient, landscape of her home, perched precariously on the very outpost of the most beautiful land on earth.

phone: 011 353 87 9574855