Irish singer/songwriter turned television host Cathy Maguire is to launch her new album ‘Ireland In Song’ on Friday, August 9th at the New York Irish Center on Jackson Avenue.
Joining Maguire will be Musical Director Gabriel Donohue and Master of Ceremonies Donie Carroll along with a slew of other well known musical guests. The album, containing ten classic Irish ballads sang by Maguire, is to be an official companion piece to her television show ‘Out of Ireland’, which commenced on PBS last month and is currently being shown on transatlantic Aer Lingus flights.
‘Out of Ireland’, based on an idea by Maguire herself who has an honours degree in Ethnomusicology, chronicles the star’s analysis of traditional, Irish songs to see where they originated from, a study that astonished both Maguire and her audience. Each episode of the five part series dissects a different song and the album ‘Ireland In Song’ was born out of the huge response from viewers to the series.
‘It really was amazing to visit some of the places where these songs originated from and to celebrate our Irish roots. Some of the things we discovered were just mind-blowing and it was a lot of fun doing it. I got the idea for this and went to filmmaker Andy Clancy who gave me the go-ahead. Together we developed this show and we decided to take ten of the most globally well known Irish songs such as ‘Danny Boy’, ‘Molly Malone’ and ‘The Fields of Athenry’ and see just how they came about. ‘Danny Boy’ was probably my favourite because it is such a sad and surreal story. The tune for ‘Danny Boy’ is probably one of the most recognised melodies in the world but its’ creator will never be known. It is 100 years since ‘Danny Boy’ was released but its unspoken beginnings are from an itinerant fiddler long before that playing away on a street. The tune was taken and eventually was put to the lyrics of ‘Danny Boy’. I think you could devote a whole series in itself to trying to discover who that fiddler was that created that beautiful tune. The response from people has been fantastic, particularly among Irish Americans. That is why I recorded this album and I did so in Philadelphia with the wildly talented Gabriel Donohue who I just think is the world’s best kept secret and Ireland’s best export’.
Maguire is proving herself to be a very valuable Irish export herself and the star is just back from a trip to Ireland where she was recording with hugely popular record producer and musician Phil Coulter.
‘Myself and Andy Cooney sang a song in the Rockaways in the first festival after Hurricane Sandy last year. It was a Gospel song and it seemed to touch a lot of people and it was an emotional experience for us to be there sharing stories with people. But the song found its way to Phil Coulter who I have always admired and he wanted us to come over and record this song. So, we of course went over and he was great to work with and he is definitely someone I will work with again. It has been a busy few weeks to say the least between recording with Phil and recording ‘Ireland In Song’ but it has been fantastic.’
The Dundalk songstress, discovered at a very early age and recording ever since, sees this new album as a big departure from her normal Country music style. After her college education, Maguire was commissioned to move to Nashville where she recorded an album entitled ‘Portrait’ in 2009. The album was released by Celtic Collections, the studio that also released the hugely successful ‘Celtic Woman’.
‘Portrait’ brought Maguire much critical acclaim including 4 out of 5 stars on Hot Press and she began to carve out a name for herself on the cut-throat Nashville scene touring with ‘The High Kings’ and opening for Martina McBride.
‘Country Music is definitely where I feel at home’, said Maguire, who’s musical writing partner in Nashville is none other than Roger Cook of ‘Cook and Greenaway’ fame. ‘But I have been based in New York City for 3 and a half years now and I am amazed by the opportunities that have been thrown my way. Together with Andy Clancy, I have shot and filmed commercials for the iconic Fitzpatrick hotels which are a real source of pride for us. It’s a city where you can have your fingers in many pies and I have done things I could have never dreamed of anywhere else and met so many wonderful people’.
Despite this, the country star states that she sometimes felt ‘overwhelmed’ living in the manic streets of Manhattan culminating in a recent move to Sunnyside, Queens where she claims to be ‘musically inspired’ by the surprisingly high number of Irish musicians that reside there.
‘I have to thank Donie Carroll and Stephen Murphy for introducing me to Sunnyside. It really has been a revelation for me but I think Donie may have some sort of a master plan by bringing all us musicians together’, laughed Maguire from her new home on Skillman Avenue.
‘He has become a musical guru for many Irish people in New York and I think he has something to do with so many of us living in Sunnyside! But it really has been so inspiring for me living here. It’s a great feeling for me to be around young musicians and songwriters like Paul Byrom, Donie Carroll, Sean Henshaw, Cillian Vallely. Mickey Coleman plays a lot in Sunnyside too. I studied the world renowned piper Paddy Keenan when I was in college and now he regularly performs in Murphy’s Bar right here in my neighbourhood.
Each week I am more and more pleasantly surprised by what Sunnyside has to offer. I just have to walk down the street to meet some fantastically talented people or else just go down the street to Murphy’s Bar to hear them play. I think there’s something special going on here and I’m delighted to be a part of it. I feel so creatively inspired and I get this rare feeling of being in the right place at the right time’.
Maguire’s musical roots still belong to the country scene however, and the gifted singer has signed on to record another album in Nashville which is being produced by her long-time mentor and friend ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement. Clement is a legendary name on the Nashville scene, having previously wrote and produced songs for musical giants like U2, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Tom Jones, Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis to name but a few.
‘Jack has been a fantastic friend and teacher to me. I feel blessed and honoured to have had him take me on as a young, fledgling singer/songwriter allowing me to meet some fantastic people and do things like sit in on recordings with Johnny Cash. He has taught me so much and I am very excited about the possibilities of this new album and the direction we have taken with it’.
The launch of ‘Ireland in Song’ commences with a ‘hospitality hour’ at 7.30pm at the New York Irish Center on Jackson Avenue on August 9th. The show starts at 8.30pm. Admission is $22 with a discount to seniors, students and the unemployed at $11. Tickets are available by contacting the New York Irish Center at 718-482-0909 or by visiting newyorkirishcenter.org.