Let’s just ignore my offkey warbling. I bet if you head to an Irish pub today you’ll hear Whiskey In The Jar or It’s a Long Way to Tipperary sung. Music has a strong link to Irish culture and singing is often part of St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Besides the fact that it’s fun, why is singing such an intrinsic part of our social gatherings? I think it’s because the voice has the power to touch human emotions in a way that nothing else can. And, when we allow it to touch us, we develop a rapport with the singer.
When I asked Father David Delargy, the baritone in the classical trio, The Priests, why audiences feel a rapport with their group, he said, “When people come to see you in a concert they get to see some of your humanity because when you sing you’re sharing so much of yourself. Singing is a personal thing and everybody’s voice is personal and whenever you do that you make yourself very vulnerable to a listener, to an audience…and I think your audience relate to that.”
Stirring renditions of Danny Boy or Boulavogue aren’t the only songs you’ll hear from Irish singers. They connect with their audiences in a range of musical styles from pop to classical to country to folk and Irish traditional. Over the years I’ve been moved by Irish men and women singing in all these styles. Here’s some of the Irish singers who have made an impression on me:
I feel good about life when I hear Van Morrison’s Days Like This.
Christy Moore weaves engaging tales with his witty lyrics and understated humour.
The splendid harmonies The Priests’s powerful voices produce captivate me.
Chris de Burgh’s Lady In Red puts me in a mellow, romantic mood.
Maura O’Connell’s strong, gutsy voice puts backbone into the songs she sings.
Eamon McCann’s bass rendition of Lay You Down roused my enthusiasm for country music.
Will Millar’s songs touch the whole range of my emotions – they are whimsical, happy, funny and moving.
Mike Denver’s old fashioned rollicking ballad, The Day Of My Return, gets my feet tapping.
Mary Black’s Song For Ireland hauntingly depicts the lonely
beauty of remote, unspoiled Irish shores.
Susan McCann’s down to earth manner draws me in and makes me feel at ease.
I’ve never heard anything that can match the Voice Squad’s a capella harmonies.
Val Doonican’s deep, warm voice makes simple songs eloquent. I want to take time to reflect on life’s joys and trials as I listen to the stories they tell.
Niamh Parsons’ gentle voice enlivens any song – upbeat or sad.
So raise your voice today singing Leaving of Liverpool or Star of the County Down. But don’t stop there. Listen to a wide range of music and allow yourself to be touched by outstanding Irish singers in every musical style.