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De Dannan’s Maura O’Connell’s lament

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Maura O’Connell
Former lead singer of De Dannan and solo chanteuse Maura O’Connell had some interesting things to say on her Facebook page about the recent Grammy announcements that provided this writer with some food for thought.

“It seems that folk music has been almost completely left out of the Grammys after the big redundancy of so many categories this year,” she said.

“I agree it was getting out of hand, but at the moment folk is represented only by Americana, folk and bluegrass. I'm a huge fan of all these genres, and the people nominated but, as you can see by the nominations, it's kinda of, out of the league of the genuine, working and touring folk musician.”
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O’Connell claims she saw the folk genre marginalized firsthand as the years went by, and she found herself nominated for a number of Grammys.

“I was nominated in the Trad Folk category a few times,” she says. “I went out to the nominees party, and the early part of the show.

“The difference between (my most recent trip) and the feeling I had in '91 when nominated for contemporary and the welcome given was much warmer. At that time, all noms including the ‘stars’ were at all events together. In ‘09, we were segregated and herded like sheep. It felt like we were in the way.”

“It has never easy for aspiring musicians to find a way around the music biz,” she laments when considering the direction that both the Grammys and the music business are taking.

“Going on the road, paying your dues, it has to be done. Spread the word, find a gig, build an audience, that is our job.

“In my early years, the people at the record company would use its various PR offshoots to garner bits of publicity, enough for it to fuel the fire. Now, with the demise of the recording industry, as well as learning the ropes of being an artist, you have to be your own publicist, record label, manager, agent.

“To have cut off the road to the Grammy prizes from so many aspiring artists, and only giving prizes to the most famous is the antithesis of the supposed ideals of (the Grammy organization). A Grammy award for a non-commercial artist, or at least, a not packaged artist, has been a way to show that the audience can trust that they should give it a listen.

“The radio stations are closed, the record stores are closed. Newspapers with arts sections are almost a thing of the past. I think we all have to consider how to keep the music flowing. I want to hear new music, I want to be excited about new music and emerging voices.”

I’ll drink to that. Perhaps artists, music critics like myself, and media outlets can make a New Year’s resolution to stop complaining about how things are and actually do something about it.

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