Clare Horgan - A Singer Apart

No other singer in Ireland or indeed elsewhere has such equal competence, training, skill and passion for two very diverse genres of Song- Jazz and Sean-Nós.

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.

Fresh from a Winter and Spring teaching music in a Secondary School in her local area of Uibh Ráthach, Co Kerry, Clare headed into a Summer packed with a variety of fantastic gigs around Ireland. This included coordinating and performing 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, in the Tech Amergin Arts Centre in Kerry. This was on top of completing the 8th year of a hugely successful residency in Tig Rosie, Ballinskelligs, where crowds flock every Summer to hear Clare and her excellent band play tunes and songs for listening and set dancing.

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 festival, to be invited to sing with the Voice Squad.

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 touring New Orleans, Boston and New York, playing Traditional Irish Music. Clare even managed to fit in a performance at Battery Place overlooking the Statue of Liberty, where she joined New York's leading Traditional Irish musicians at Tony Demarco's 'New York Trad Fest', hosted by the well-loved Harmonica player Don Meade as MC for the event. During her too brief trip to the US, Clare had the pleasure of performing alongside 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". One of the finest Jazz pianists in the world, John D. Martino, on hearing Clare sing in Manhattan in October 2016, has invited her to collaborate on an album of straight-ahead Jazz standards. He is equally keen to work with her 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", collected in Baile Bhúirne by legendary singer Bess Cronin.

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 she joined Cor 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.

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.

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.

August 2015 saw Clare win silver medal at 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.

Following a Post-Grad Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music in Leeds, CIare 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 was included in an album called "The World in a Square Mile", which was released by Virgin records. Airplay 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.

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

A recent album, "Away O'er the Water", featuring Country, Bluegrass and local Iveragh songs is played weekly by Radio Kerry and sales continue to soar.

At Leeds College of Music 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.

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 But not for me and a Jazz arrangement of the hauntingly beautiful Irish Seán Nós Lament An Leanbh Sí (The Fairy Child)

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.
Clare moved to London in 2002 and formed a quintet, Luascadh (Swing), a sensitive fusion of traditional Irish, Gospel and Jazz. Here she teamed up with young Irish musicians including fellow Kerry woman Colette O' Leary of the Bumblebees. Highlights included a regular slot at The National Theatre, The Hammersmith Irish Centre and a guest spot at The 606 Jazz club.

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.

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 music with which she was reared and the Jazz she adopted as an adult.

With the album complete, Clare returned home in 2006 to Kerry, at first to Dingle, where she launched her album. There she played at St James Church, McCarthy’s Bar, The Blue Zone and The Courthouse Bar as well as touring festivals and venues Ireland and abroad.

A year in Limerick had Clare teaching on The Limerick Jazz Workshops as well as performing at the wonderful weekend sessions at The Milk Market 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.

Now living in her native South Kerry, she divides her time between revisiting the songs and stories of her childhood and gigging locally and farther afield. Gigs have varied from The Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire with her new Swing quartet, Polka dots and Moonbeams to the Cable O Leary’s Music and Dance Festival sharing the bill with Liam O Maonlaí of Hothouse Flowers. Other appearances include Tig Rosie’s, the intimate traditional pub in Ballinskelligs, as seen on BBC/RTE documentary The Story of Ireland with excellent traditional musicians John Brown and Paddy Casey, Live Sessions at the Country Market Caife Cois Trá. A highlight of her return home came with headlining the Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival with her the Cork 20 piece Swing Band Tuxedo Junction. This year, Clare is delighted to have joined the all female Sean Nós choir Cór Ban Chúil Aodha in Baile Bhúirne under the baton of Peadar O Ríada, with performances coming up in various venues in 2014.

With a background in Jazz and traditional Irish music Clare finds herself, these days, more and more drawn to Bluegrass and Country songs. Her new CD, Away O'er the Water, just released this Autumn, 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. The CD is topped off with some South Kerry songs, including the previously unrecorded "Boatmen of Ardcost" and the hugely popular "Road from Killorglin to Cahersiveen."

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.

email: info@clarehorgan.com
website: clarehorgan.com
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