“I am just doing what I love and being able to make a living of it” Seán Keane told The Irish Emigrant regarding his highly successful career as one of Ireland’s most acclaimed traditional singers. The Irish musician known for his sean-nós (old-style) singing is returning to Boston for a show at the Berklee Performance Center on September 6.
Seán Keane, is from a family steeped in traditional music; his sister is the renowned Dolores Keane. Having grown up in a house full of music, Keane first got a taste of the limelight at the tender age of six when he was brought to his local Fleadh Cheoil in Tuam, Co. Galway. Despite knowing only one song, the young Seán Keane wowed the judges and went on to win both his local and county Fleadh Cheoil before eventually winning the National Fleadh Cheoil in Dublin. The experience left a lasting impression on the then young Galway native, as Keane recalls “I thought if one song could bring me to Dublin, I should learn some more songs.”
Since those formative years at the Fleadh Cheoil competitions, Keane has traveled the world delighting audiences with not only the traditional Irish songs that he grew up but with songs from a diverse range of genres including American country and Bluegrass.
“I have to sing songs that grab my soul,” explains Keane about the eclectic catalogue of songs he performs. The singer has released six successful solo albums and when it comes to choosing what appears on each album, he says “I don’t find songs, the songs find me.”
However, the road hasn't been easy for the talented musician who not only sings but is a talented multi-instrumentalist. The Galway man lost his wife and manager, Virginia, in 2010 and decided to take time out from the music scene. Both husband and wife worked so closely together on Keane's career that many wondered would he ever return to singing. However for Keane, music is too much in his blood to ever fully stop, he admits that singing "is something I have to do."
And it appears the break is exactly what he needed as Keane has returned with "a renewed enthusiasm for music and performance.” In his absence, the music industry had changed with social media altering the way in which fans consume music. An irksome issue for many record companies and musicians but this accomplished Irish artist isn't fazed. Keane welcomes the addition of social media to the mix and has seen his fan base growing and diversifying and adds “I am reaching a lot more of the younger generation than I normally would.”
Speaking about his upcoming show in Boston, Keane is excited to return to the city, and laughs “I have nearly as many friends in Boston as I do at home.” The singer cites celebrating 24th birthday in Cape Cod as one of his many fond memories of Massachusetts. When asked how he has succeeded for so long in an industry known for it's high turn-over, Keane believes that he has been blessed and humbly says that both his musical talents and career are nothing short of a "God-given gift."
Sean Keane will play the Berklee Performance Center on September 6. The show starts at 8pm. Tickets can be purchased at the Berklee Box Office 617-747-2261 or online at www.berklee.edu/bpc