Hayley Griffiths:The Celtic Rose Blossoms (Interview)

“There is no such thing
as a forgotten tradition. It is possible to neglect such traditions, but these
can always be recovered. No tradition never dies until the last person who honours it dies”Wallace Black Elk

Celtic Rose is an enchanting and captivating album. Hayley Griffiths has a full-bodied voice that calls to mind the mermaids I saw in Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Celtic Rose is a collection of feel-good tracks. She lends us her time today as she answers several questions, which I am sure will convince you to get this album.

*What is the concept behind Celtic Rose?

After years of touring all over the world with ‘Riverdance’, Michael Flatley’s ‘Lord of the Dance’ and Ragús I thought it was about time I put together a recording of all the songs that I’d been performing for years. As the album took shape I choose to include my most favourite Celtic songs, with a good mix of Traditional and Contemporary material. As I have Scottish roots I also included a gorgeous John Douglas song I first heard Eddi Reader sing, called ‘Wild Mountainside.’ I’m delighted that after 7 years of being affiliated with all the Major Irish Productions, I have an album that represents exactly what I’ve been up to!

*How is this album different from Silver Screen? What can listeners expect out of Celtic Rose ?

‘Silver Screen’ is a completely Original Album. I co-wrote all of the tracks along with my Production Team, Surefire Music Group. Named Silver Screen for it’s dramatic soundtrack quality, we encompassed elements of classical and Celtic Music and laced it with more modern heavy percussion, synth sounds, dramatic melodic progressions and R&B style vocal harmonies and layering. The powerful thought-provoking lyrics and catchy melodies helped bring a more modern, edgy approach to the Classical Crossover genre. I’m delighted that because of this, the album went on to win Classical Crossover Album of the Year 2010. ‘Celtic Rose’ is a very different album in that it represents a collection of much loved Irish and Scottish songs, traditional and Contemporary. These include, Danny Boy, You Raise Me Up, Galway Bay and Carrickfergus.

*I notice you go for stripped down arrangement on this one, sometimes with acoustic guitar or piano. What’s with the decision to simplify the tracks?

Part of my inspiration to put together ‘Celtic Rose’ was the fantastic Trad musicians I am working with. I am currently in the only all live- Irish music and dance production,  ‘Ragús’ and the band are just incredible. I am very lucky to have had them all play on ‘Celtic Rose’. ‘Silver Screen’ was a dramatic cinematic album with layer upon layer of instruments and harmony, creating a rich texture. The selection of tracks in ‘Celtic Rose’  didn’t warrant the same treatment. I had to stay true to the traditional songs, and telling the stories, but at the same time create new and exciting arrangements. Danny Boy for instance is stripped back to just voice and guitars. This is to really let the beauty of the vocal line and lyrics shine through. But we have also produced much grander arrangements for tracks like Isle of Hope and You Raise Me Up.

*Your pure soprano shines in every track. There are songs that are sung simply and there are ‘showy ones’ how do you decide it is the style you need to do in a specific track?

I was very fortunate to work with a great producer, Conal Early who produced and played (Guitars, Keys, Piano and Bass) on all the arrangements. We worked together to decide which tracks we thought needed the full treatment of the whole band and percussion and which just warranted the elegance of acoustic guitar or harp and voice.  It is through the mix of Traditional and Contemporary songs where you’ll get the slight vocal variations with the pure traditional Lagan Love and the more music theatre style of Galway Bay or Song For Ireland.

*How was the whole recording experience doing Celtic Rose?

Recording ‘Celtic Rose’ was immense fun and hard work! Working with such talented musicians made it a really enjoyable experience though.  It was great hearing the tracks gradually coming to life as each of the different instruments got added. ‘Celtic Rose’ was recorded in Dublin and then I flew out to Boston for a week of mixing and mastering at Surefire Studios.

*Are there notable names you worked with in this album?

All of the musicians are part of ‘Ragús The Show’.  We are currently in The Burlington Hotel, Dublin for the summer, before embarking on a tour of Holland, Belgium and Japan. Conal Early produced and arranged the album. He is currently touring as Tommy Flemming’s guitarist. The Band are- Connor Smith (Flute, Whistles)  Seána Davey (Harp), Garry O’Meara (Mandolin, Banjo, and Backing Vocals) and Brian Garvin (Fiddle and Bodhran)

*What are the promotional plans for Celtic Rose?

Celtic Rose is available to download on iTunes and Amazon. Signed copies can be purchased at www.hayleygriffiths.com. We are currently booking a US tour for 2012, for the latest news and tour dates, you can check out the website.

*Tell us about the experience working with the Michael Flatley’s ensemble?

Working in ‘Michael Flatley’s ‘Lord of the Dance’ and ‘Feet of Flames’ has been an amazing opportunity. I have toured all over the world, performed in over 370 Cities across 4 continents. I have been to nearly every state of North America, and got to sing for over 20, 000 people in Taiwan at the Taipei Arena. Without these opportunities neither of my albums would have come to fruition. The buzz and adrenalin you get performing in these shows with there sell out crowds and standing ovations is just incredible.

*I am an Enya fan.You have a unique take on May It Be. What made you decide to include this on the list?

I am also a great fan, and it was important to me to include an Enya track after she was such a huge influence whilst writing, ‘Silver Screen.’  I just loved Enya’s cinematic style and soaring vocal lines, which was the exact direction we wanted to take ‘Silver Screen’ in but with a more modern and edgy approach. ‘May it Be’ seemed the perfect atmospheric choice for the new album, straight from the movie, ‘Lord of the Rings’ it seemed to nicely follow through with the soundtrack style theme of ‘Silver Screen.’ It’s a very strong, yet still emotive piece, which I’m delighted to have included.

*Song For Ireland has been identified with Mary Black. I personally love your version. Any interesting story touring Ireland?

Mary Black; another amazing singer who I’m a huge fan of! ‘Celtic Rose’ covers 3 songs that she’s sung in her long career, as I couldn’t choose between them! ‘Song For Ireland’ is also on the album as its the final song I perform in Ragús.  I have only had the opportunity to tour Ireland a little bit when I was with ‘Lord of the Dance’ and we performed in Dublin, Castlebar, Derry and Belfast.  But as I’m here in Dublin for the summer now (singing with Ragús 6 nights a week)  I’ll hopefully get the chance to explore a lot more of  Ireland! A few years ago I did get to visit Carrickfergus, after many many years of singing it in ‘Lord of the Dance’ and that song is also now on the album.

*Let us discuss the voice.I am sure everyone who hears you will agree that you have such an amazing voice. But tell us, how did Hayley Griffiths attained such kind of vocal power, the technique and training behind it?

Firstly, thank you and I truly hope that everyone will really enjoy the album, I’m very proud of  it. I was Classically trained from the age of 7, I had a wonderful teacher Louise Crane, who fine tuned my technique as she took me right through all the Associated Board exams up to my ABRSM diploma. For this I had to learn to sing in Italian, French and German as well.  It is also vital to look after your voice and try to stay healthy, especially whilst touring and performing every night of the week. This is when technique becomes very important so as not to damage or strain the voice.



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