Have you ever heard a piece of music that’s apparently been around for a while and thought: “Why haven’t I heard that before?” That was my experience with the Dublin-based singer, Niamh Parsons.

I stumbled upon her accidentally on YouTube, over a year ago. To give you a feel for her unusual voice, I have attached some YouTube clips below. 

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The best way I can describe it is: original, distinctive and strong; she veers from an almost operatic tone into soothing Sean Nós (unaccompanied Gaelic singing) ornamentations. Her voice twirls gracefully around words, catching your attention.

The first song I heard was ‘Fear an Bhata’ (‘The Boatman’), from her album ‘Blackbirds and Thrushes’. It’s over five minutes of beautiful, soulful, traditional singing. Her music evokes long walks on West of Ireland beaches, or curling up in front of a big log fire with a nice glass of wine.

Her rendition of ‘Black is Colour’, accompanied by intuitive tones of her musical collaborator, guitarist Graham Dunne, contains kind of the palpable passion of Luke Kelly or Sinead O’Connor.

Niamh Parsons seems to be a hidden gem. A ‘word of mouth’ musician - and they are sometimes best, in my opinion.  But she’s been busy! Niamh has released seven albums since 1992! She is due to release her eighth album soon.

Take a listen below, and enjoy your discovery!

Read more: "Minstrel Boy" is the most-performed song in the world on St. Patrick’s Day

* Originally published in 2013 on Ireland of the Welcomes.