Roisin O has had an “amazing” two years since the launch of her 2012 album “The Secret Life of Blue,” from supporting her mother, the Irish songstress legend Mary Black, on tour, to playing for President Michael D Higgins. This Dublin singer songwriter, just finishing up a successful debut US tour, is looking forward to her upcoming German tour with Ryan Sheridan.
Early in August this year she played an intimate gig in the Burren, in Somerville, Boston. She told IrishCentral, “I had a great night, really good fun. I was quite nervous because it was my first gig of this tour and my first solo tour of America but the crowd were brilliant and they were singing along.”
Her tour has now taken her to Berkley, CA, and up to Seattle before returning to New York for her August 30 gig at Webster Hall.
The Irish singer came to our New York newsroom’s attention with her video of “Tea Song (with Irish #teaspora)”. The video portrays various Irish emigrants around the world drinking tea and displays their name, where they are and how long it’s been since they were in Ireland.
Conscious of a new reality that now faces young people in Ireland affected by the “brain drain,” she was delighted to receive such a response from around the world.
She said, “It turned into such a lovely piece and I think nowadays when there are so many young Irish people who don’t live at home it was really nice to their names and how long they’ve been away from home...but they’re still Irish and they keep that up by drinking lots of tea!”
And no doubt Roisin O will continue to play for those Irish now scattered around the globe. With her first solo tour to the US almost under her belt she spoke to IrishCentral from an LA recording studio.
Roisin O, whose full name is Roisin O’Reilly, said that becoming a singer was inevitable and growing up in such a musical family it’s no mystery where her influences came from.
The daughter of the great Mary Black and sister of Danny O’Reilly, the front man of the popular band the Coronas, Roisin said going to gigs and being around music was simply something they took for granted.
“I suppose going to the gigs as well I took that for granted. It was just something we did. It definitely influenced me and I will always remember loving the gigs and seeing these great musicians playing with my Mam.”
Although she took lessons she said music in their house was more about picking up an instrument and messing about, but she added, “I can never remember not wanting to sing. I’ve always loved singing from a young age and I never lost that.”
When asked about family jamming sessions in the cosy environs of South Dublin she said, “We didn’t do it as much as you might think.” But the three musicians have always used each other as sounding boards.
“I remember when Danny was doing his leaving cert (SAT) and he had to do a practical for music. He played a song that he had written and that was the first time I remember saying “Wow Danny’s a great song writer” and I remember Mam and myself sitting him down and talking about the song and what we liked and disliked. We would do that, we’ll be each other's critics.”
Roisin also took on the role of supporting act for Mary Black’s latest tour playing to audiences in the UK, Holland, Sweden, Germany, Australia, as well at the United States.
Roisin loved touring with her “Mam” she told IrishCentral, “For me it’s such a great opportunity to get to this audience. She really has a good following over here.”
Although undeniably proud of her family’s great success Roisin admitted that she does not like to advertise that she is Mary Black’s daughter.
She said, “I usually just won’t tell the audience. It’s really nice to see their reaction without them knowing who I am. Some people might just hear who I am and automatically like me or not like me. At the gigs I try my best not to tell them but usually by the end of the show my Mam will say something, pride takes over and she’ll come out and say “Oh by the way...”
Considering the undeniable upward targetry of Roisin O’s career it’s hard to imagine that she has only taken on her music career with gusto since she graduated from university in 2011.
“I hadn’t been taking music 100 percent seriously because I’d been in college until 2011 and I left college and decided this is what I want to do and now’s the time to do it,” she explained.
“I was playing with a band for about a year, two guys and a girl, I wrote a lot of music with them. We became really close and worked really hard and we got a great opportunity to go over and record with David Odlum over in France in studio Black Box.”
The man behind Gemma Hayes’ albums and Mic Christopher’s amazing “Skylarkin,’” they jumped at the chance to work with him on her first album “The Secret Life of Blue.”
“We went over to France for a couple of weeks and we just stayed over there, he has an amazing converted barn and studio and we just had a lot of food and red wine and made the album,” Roisin recalled.
“It was a really lovely process in a beautiful place. I was really close with everyone who wrote the album with me so it was an amazing experience.”
Their album, warmly received in Ireland and entering the charts at 21, was just the beginning of what’s been a whirlwind series of events. None more surreal or exciting than performing at President Michael D Higgins’ event for St. Patrick’s Day 2013. Marking The Gathering and reaching out to the many recent emigrants and Diaspora around the world, Higgins held “Glaoch (The President’s Call)” which was streamed live and aired on Irish TV.
“I couldn’t believed that I got asked to do it,” said Roisin. “The lineup for the Glaoch was just filled with amazing artists - Lisa Hannigan, Christy Moore, Bono and the Script - and I’m there among all these big names. This unknown artist!
“Doing it was so much fun. Getting to go the Áras an Uachtaráin [the president’s residence] and play the song for the President and his wife which was really lovely. The response I got from everybody was huge.”
Roisin O’s audience is continuing to grow. After New York she’ll join the excellent Ryan Sheridan on the road in Germany where she’ll further tape in to her audience abroad.
Here Roisin O performs for Michael D Higgins for “Glaoch (The President’s Call)”:
Roisin O’s famous “Tea Song” with a video representing Ireland’s emigrants: