The singing Henry Sisters shine


The Henry Sisters.
The Henry Sisters. 

Amazing the things you find on Facebook. I saw my friend, the jazz chanteuse Tara O’Grady, was raving about the Henry Girls in one of her posts.

I dug a little further and came up with my new favorite band! Their most recent album, December Moon, is a rewarding trail through the Appalachian Trail by way of Donegal.

Karen, Lorna and Joleen Henry make up the band and they have three more sisters called Clare, Maureen and Anita. According to Lorna, they have been playing music together since we were children.

“There was always a sing-song going on with a few tunes.  It was very much part of family life,” Lorna says.

“In 1999 all six of us were asked to play at a festival in Italy. This was very successful but also a turning point for our other three sisters as they decided not to pursue it as a career. They didn’t like performing. The rest of us decided to make a go of it formally back in 2002.”

You can tell how close the family is based on their pitch-perfect harmonies. They are part country, part folk and mostly sass. If the Corrs and Dolly Parton had a baby, it might sound like the Henry Girls.

“Our musical influences are very similar -- traditional Irish music being a huge part of our musical landscape,” says Lorna.

“We all love harmony groups like the McGarrigle Sisters, the Andrews Sisters, the Everly Brothers. We are also fans of Bruce Springsteen, the Eagles, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits...the list goes on and on!”

Their cover of Costello’s “Watching the Detectives” is pure acoustic reggae fun!

“We did try to give Elvis a copy of our album when he was in Ireland two years ago.  We are told it made its way to him but we never got any personal feedback from him,” Joleen says. “We are however listed on his official Wikipedia page for covering the song!”

Their breakout hit, a cover of the blues staple “Ol’ Cook Pot” made famous recently by the Duhks, tells the story of a widow selling the cookware to feed her large family.  Mandolin, fiddles, and harp make the recipe for a southern fried coating to this homespun story about not having enough to eat.

They got funding from local businesses and the rural development board to make their first CD and haven’t stopped since.

“We consider ourselves a folk band,” Lorna says when asked to describe her sisters’ sound.

“Harmony is a key part of our sound. Also the harp, fiddle and accordion. We play rootsy music with a range of influences including traditional Irish, bluegrass and jazz.”

The band is setting their sites for a return to the U.S. in March. For more information or to check out their sound, log onto www.thehenrygirls.com.


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