Feel the warmth of AN IRISH CHRISTMAS BLESSING by Fr Ray Kelly

Feel the warmth of AN IRISH CHRISTMAS BLESSING by Fr Ray Kelly

Father Ray Kelly Chrstimas cd cover

If An Irish Christmas Blessing is a solar system, then Make Me a Channel of Your Peace has to be sun, drawing all planets to its gravity. It is a track that’s timely as the world needs something to hold on to especially in these troubled times. An Irish Christmas Blessing recalls the auspicious debut of Father Ray Kelly almost a year ago. This happened when he sang at the wedding of Chris and Leah O’Kane on April 5th 2014 which blew the internet after it was captured and posted on You Tube.

I am listening to the title track while writing this. It brings back a lot of good feelings. Like when I was in high school and I was a teenager again haunting for good holiday albums in record stores. The classic style represents the ‘feel’ of the whole album. There is nostalgia and a sense of adventure.

His style of singing is unique. Not Gregorian or operatic. He sounds close to Elvis Costello but with a rich upper register and nuance where it is needed. In O Holy Night, he gives his all hitting those rich notes at the end of the song. The album’s orchestration is superb. I love orchestras and An Irish Christmas Blessing is a treat for those who love grand arrangements but with a modern twist.

Father Kelly  will be donating a percentage of the profits of the sales of this album and his live concerts to the Kiltegan Fathers St Patrick’s Missionary Society. It’s where he started his journey as a Catholic priest.Below is a brief interview made possible by my good friend Anita Daly of Daly Communications:

 

Hi Father Kelly, you must be ecstatic that your Christmas album is finally out! Why did you choose An Irish Christmas Blessing as the album’s title?

Yes I am very excited about the Christmas album and indeed the final production of it. When I heard the song An Irish Christmas Blessing, I fell in love with the melody and the words immediately. And in deciding a title for the album I thought there it is, the title, the first song on the Album. I guess being an Irish Man and firmly planted in my roots it was the ideal title.

What are your favorite songs in this album?

I love all Christmas music so I really love all the songs. However, when I heard my completed version of Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace, I just thought it was so prayerful and haunting, so I guess it is one of my top 3. But I love O Holy Night as I feel hearing that song at Christmas is so special and necessary. As for the song The Little Drummer Boy, I do think the arrangement of that is super. All my grand nieces and nephews are constantly listening to that one and tell me it is their favourite.

You employed an orchestra to record the thirteen songs (by the way it’s my lucky number). How did you decide to record with an orchestra plus choir instead of just the usual piano, drums, bass and synths?

I was very fortunate that Nigel Wright in the UK agreed to produce my Christmas Album, as he is up there among the top record producers in the world, so I was totally guided by him as to what was needed to create a great album.

Some of the songs are vocally challenging! But you glide through them gracefully. Do you record in one take or did you experience having to decide between two versions of then same song?

Nigel made me work very hard, he knew I could create the sound he wanted. So it took a lot more than one take in most of the songs. But that is not unusual, and having heard the final production I can understand why it took some time.

You will be donating a percentage of the profits of the sales of this album and his live concerts to the Kiltegan Fathers St Patrick’s Missionary Society right?

Yes, Kiltegan Fathers, or St Patrick’s Missionary Society will benefit from the sale of my CD and concerts. When I decided to become a priest, I joined The Kiltegan Fr’s in Co Wicklow. So they educated me for 7 years and had a huge say in my formation as a Catholic Priest. I spent a couple of years on the Mission Field in S.Africa, however I decided I wanted to work at home eventually. I always said if I could every give something back to them for all they did for me even in a small way I would, little did I realise that an opportunity like this would come my way.

What’s your biggest wish this Christmas?

My biggest wish this Christmas is that my younger sister who is quite ill will make a complete recovery. Now that would be Christmas for me.

There you go 🙂 Bax

Slan, best wishes, Merry Christmas

Fr Ray

 

And I wish your younger sister a complete recovery as well Father Kelly.

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Enya – Dark Sky Island (Album Sampler) is now available!

The Irish goddess of music is releasing her new album Dark Sky Island this November 20. I know you are all scrambling to get your copies. There are people who already pre ordered the album. The excitement and madness surrounding the pre-release of the album is overwhelming. Enya season is always a season of magic and joy. I don’t know about you but I’ve been a fan since the very early 90s and will continue to be so.

Dark Sky Island sees our melodic diva evolving musically. She has also stretched her voice like never before.Now, it is hard to really know what each song will be like from beginning to finish but we all get the impression that they will be fantastic. I got goosebumps listening to The Loxian Gates. Who won’t be? The marching tempo sounds glorious. The language sounds Gaelic. But I am not surprise. Didn’t Enya mentioned that Loxians are actually the future Celts? There is an element of Sci Fi in her recent albums. Roma Ryan(her lyricist) has always been a great fan of Hard Science, Poetry and the visual arts. These women combined forces to create timeless albums. Nicky Ryan has added his production genius and as a fan of Brian Wilson he made the Enya sound accessible to the mainstream.

By the way didn’t the record the album inside Abbey Road Studios?

I can’t wait for November 20. This year is a good year. It’s Enya seaso all over again. Hooray to her and to all her fans all over the world.

“Newfoundland Vinyl 3  by Allison Crowe brings the beautiful winter breeze early

“Newfoundland Vinyl 3 by Allison Crowe brings the beautiful winter breeze early

Newfoundland Vinyl 3 is a Holiday treat that should not be missed by beautiful music lovers! 

Now that we can move on to Yule, you might want to shop around for a good holiday album. No need to look further. Newfoundland Vinyl 3 by Canadian singer/songwriter Allison Crowe offers a perfect soundtrack for your winter needs. Her singing is strong and with the times. There is an interesting history how this album was conceived(please check the additional info at end of this post).

There are thirteen songs (my lucky number) in the album and they offer unique listening experience as I don’t think I have met a kind of style or recording like her’s.  The styles vary from traditional to modern. The perky Up She Goes is already a favorite. Fiddlers Green, The Irish Rover will appeal to lovers of Irish music. While the rest are infused in folk, pop and blues style. She brings the spirit

Allison Crowe’s arrangements are simple and they exude an intimate air which is rare these days, in a world where music is overblown or over produced. You get the sense of organic simplicity in each track. it’s the feeling of coming home after a long hard day from work.

This recommended especially if you are looking for something that is not too classical, too folky or ethereal. The earthly arrangements and warm performance are gifts from this wonderful album that should last through all seasons.

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More about Newfoundland Vinyl 3:

“Newfoundland Vinyl” is a perennial favourite attraction of the cultural treasure that is the Gros Morne Theatre Festival.

Conceived by Jeff Pitcher, Artistic Director of Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador, (TNL – the Atlantic Canadian professional theatre company founded in 1979), the hit stage show’s under the Musical Direction of Allison Crowe who’s been with the production from its launch in 2012.

Each Summer Allison Crowe delights in residing in the beauty of Gros Morne National Park – an UNESCO world heritage site located on the west coast of Newfoundland. In working with her wonderfully-talented cast and crew, Allison records a selection of songs to be included in the show repertoire. Once the play’s run its season, she selects some of her favourite tunes to share from this collection.

TNL describes the latest edition: “Hits of the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s by Newfoundland’s biggest recording stars come to life! For your toe-tapping, tear-jerking enjoyment the music and songs of Ryan’s Fancy, Harry Hibbs, Gary O’Driscoll, Dick Nolan, Joan Morrissey, Bob Porter and more…”

“I have had such a wonderful time learning this year’s crop of songs for Newfoundland Vinyl – from waltzes and parlour songs, to torch songs, to songs with the same spirit as 1960s protest anthems and beyond – simply great music from throughout the decades,” notes Allison. “The silly, the sentimental, the sad, and serene all converge in this GMTF show… So, please, enjoy and do sing along!”

credits

released October 20, 2015

Music arranged, performed and recorded by Allison Crowe – Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada.

See individual track listings for songwriting credits.

Album cover photos by Allison Crowe

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Going Home by David O’Leary (named as Ireland’s most exciting young tenor).

Going Home by David O’Leary (named as Ireland’s most exciting young tenor).

David O’ Leary is an Irish tenor with a bright voice. Going Home was released in 2011 and I feel a bit sad that I missed the whole official release event. His repertoire does not end in Classical and traditional Irish tunes. He also sings standards.

One of the heartwarming tracks in the album is his rendition of  Smile. I love the crystalline way  of how the instruments were recorded, couple that with his pristine voice and you get an album that will appeal to many people including those who don’t really listen to Celtic music.

Going Home by David O'Leary

Going Home
by David O’Leary

So who is he? The young tenor from County Wexford has studied voice in New York City. His credits include performing for President Bill Clinton and Irish-American philanthropist Loretta Brennan Glucksman at the prestigious Metropolitan Club-Irish Central.

Going Home has eight tunes. The album opens with Black is the Color which is very familiar to all those who love Irish ballads. It is followed by a Catholic hymn called The Lord is My Shepherd. Then there’s  Smile, Carrickfergus and the Elvis Priestly classic Can’t Help Falling in Love. Il MoCuore Va is an Italian rendition of My Heart Will Go On (which was also covered by Sarah Brightman and originally recorded by Celine Dion). Danny Boy is perhaps one of the most dramatic and touching songs in the album. The orchestra is just superb. It ends with the haunting Going Home.

This is a good holiday album! Get it here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/davidoleary1

‘The Space Between’ is Jamie Smith’s Mabon’s upcoming album.

‘The Space Between’ is Jamie Smith’s Mabon’s upcoming album.

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The Welsh Celtic supergroup Jaime Smith’s Mabon are releasing a new album called The Space Between through crowdfunder UK. Crowdfunding is the trend these days as more and more artists are finding that their fans can make it possible. And why not? Jamie Smith’s Mabon released a highly acclaimed Windblown 2012 and I LOVE my autographed copy of the CD. Their debut single is ‘Yr Ennyd’ which you can hear today if you go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/radiocymru

I think this single will be as fantastic as their fan favorite Caru Pum Merch. They have proven that the Welsh language holds a mystical magnetism that attracts people in all parts of the globe.

They have excellent musical style! You’ll know right away it’s them.

You can learn more about their album by visiting this link: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/TheSpaceBetween

This is their latest video recorded during the latest Lowender Peran 2015. 

Mountain Rose by The Gothard Sisters: Girl Power in Celtic Music!

Mountain Rose by The Gothard Sisters: Girl Power in Celtic Music!

Just say you are a casual listener and you happen you see one of the performances of The Gothard Sisters. I am pretty sure you would be amazed how these three sisters carry themselves. They are musically and visually captivating. You don’t even have to be a fan of Celtic music to really take note of their musical skills. This is girl power to the max. I mean, they have always carried their musical careers independently since the release of their debut album in 2006. And they stayed true to their style no matter how fickle-minded the music industry is.61eNCSEy9CL._SS280

I love the cover artwork of Mountain Rose. It really says a lot about their playfulness. And the materials are sonically delicious. I am talking about the cover of Andy M Stewart’s “Queen of Argyll.” Mr Stewart introduced me to traditional Irish music during the explosion of Green Linnet records in the 90s. The sisters gave this tune an interesting twist. The trio wrote some songs too. And whole album is like a good book you need to read up to the end. I say that because I am more of an album guy. I’d rather buy full-length albums as opposed to compilations or ‘best of.’ I am sure some of you can relate to this as every song tells a story. And every story is a branch that makes up the bigger tree which is the album. Greta, Willow and Solana are really good in making this album consistent while making each track unique to each other.

I love the clarity of The Bandit. They combine the elegance of their classical training to folk tracks. I Courted a Sailor sounds fitting in these times of gender equality. But while making interesting materials worth the discussion over coffee, they also make sure that the craft doesn’t suffer. Cat In A Bush is another playful track to listen to if you are a fan of traditional instrumental music. The Boatman’s Call reminds me a bit of Connie Dover in terms of the clear and magical vocals, while St. Annie’s Reel is a force of nature. As a fan of Grace O’Malley’s story, I am so glad the sisters have this track about her. Yes another tribute to a strong woman in history.

There are plenty of tracks you should not miss in this album. It is really a satisfying experience and I hope you get Mountain Rose and that this album will introduce you to the rest of their discography. Out of five starts I give this a five!

The Lush and Vibrant “The Promise” by Caitlin Grey is Here!

The Lush and Vibrant “The Promise” by Caitlin Grey is Here!

I am enjoying the new album of Caitlin Grey called The Promise. One thing I noticed upon playing this album for the first time is her beautiful and supple voice. It has the ease of a folk singer and the refined muscle of a classically trained vocalist. She uses these influences seamlessly in this new album, consisting of twelve songs.There are original songs as well as interpretation of traditional materials. I love her rendition of She Moved Through The Fair because of its melodic simplicity and emotional power. a1763992850_16

The title track is something that will please fans of Clannad, Loreena McKennitt and Anuna or even Secret Garden. Her arrangements are also spot on. I love the drumming on this one because it sounds almost like a pop ballad. But then again we know that with Ms Grey, every song can be a magical journey between classical and folk.

Her approach to singing tells you  this is how to sing these songs. Yes, especially these kinds of songs because it takes a special artist to pull this off. Because in the hands(or throat) of an ordinary singer, they will sound weird. These songs choose a singer and that singer is Caitlin Grey. I love it when she harmonises in some songs.They sound whispery, airy and crystal clear. I love the style of Innisfrie because I love movie soundtracks. Ailein Duinn is haunting  especially with the harp. An original from Scottish group Capercaillie for the movie Rob Roy. I love her singing in Scottish Gaelic. She maintained the beauty of the original but added her own unique style.

I love ballads that build up gradually. And this is the style that is present in most of the songs in The Promise. Black is the Color is another personal favourite. She sings that sense of loss where words fail.

In My Awakening, I like that part of the chorus where she sings the line “..When all my life fades away in tomorrow..” deeply moving! In Anam Cara, her voice is a powerful instrument that can transport us to anywhere in the world where she wants to take us. Call of the Clans closes this wonderful album with an arrangement that can rival any operatic aria. Listen to the latin chants at the end of the song. If that does not conjure something in you, then you are not human.

The Promise is a work of magnificent sound craftsmanship and artistic maturity. Looking forward to her third album!

 Learn a tune from “The Waylaid Man” and get a FREE CD.

 Learn a tune from “The Waylaid Man” and get a FREE CD.

Do you want to get a free copy of an Irish traditional record? Well you better hurry before offer runs out. According to Irish recording artist Michael McCague:
  
So grab your camera phones and make a video of yourselves playing one of his tunes. Hey it wouldn’t be hard even if you don’t have his album yet as you can always looked it up via YouTube.

Karl Nesbitt is working on a new album The Constant!

Karl Nesbitt is working on a new album The Constant!


Karl Nesbitt, The multi instrumentalist Irish musician is working on a new album. The album is titled The Constant . Details are coming soon. He has been busy with many musical projects. These are recitals and Master classes.

He has already released two recordings Vista Point and the Good News EP. You can get updates about his latest releases and projects by visiting his official website

www.karlnesbitt.com

 

Videos:

Live shows for this month and beyond

Live shows for this month and beyond

because I am not posting any album reviews at this time, I’d rather post something about live music. I am hoping that you’ll be able to watch your favorite artists performing in your area. Due to my right hand injury, I am using voice dictation to write text messages. And so far, it has been working quite OK.

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Dubbed internationally as the singing priest, father Ray Kelly is in New York City promoting his new album “Where I belong.” He is also releasing a Christmas album this November. So watch out for that one I am sure it will be amazing.

Visit his Facebook page to see more.
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Following the release of his celebrated book A history of Irish music, Larry Kirwan is performing live in New York City catch him and also buy the new book.

Visit his band page to see more.
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If you are in the Czech Republic, you better check out Sliotar as they are currently touring and performing. These guys never grow tired performing. They have inexhaustible energy to sing and play those wonderful tunes. I think it takes passion and also good health to be able to really play in many venues.

Visit their website for events and releases.
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Even though I am not currently writing album reviews, I’ve been listening to these wonderful albums. I highly recommend them.

  

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About this item

Track Listings

Disc: 1

The Duke Of Leinster/Gardiner’s/John Stenson’s #2

A Sailor s Life

Tommy Potts’ Slip Jig

The Bay Of Biscay

The King Of The Pipers/Behind The Haystack/The Maid On The Green

Paddy Cronin’s/If I Had A Wife

The Close Shave/East At Glendart

Moving Cloud

The Heart Of The World

Neckbelly

Kiss The Maid Behind The Byre/Tá Do Mhargadh Déanta

Dónal Na Gréine

Sore Point

The Hut On Staten Island/The De il Among The Tailors

Belfast: Back To Belfast/Anne Lacey/Eroticon VI

The Pipers Of Roguery

Wedding Dress

Disc: 2

Hardiman The Fiddler

Brelydian

A Mháire Bruineall

Portaferry Swing

Róise Na BhFonn Tuneful Rose

Pota Mór Fataí

The Slide From Grace (Dusty Miller s/Dan O Keefe s/The Slide From Grace)

Bean An Fhir Ruaidh The Red Haired Man s Wife

Beer Belly Dancing

The Beauty Spot

Cailleach A Shúsa The Hag In The Blanket

Product Details

Original Release Date: 2012

Label: World Music Network

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Patrick Ball has been keeping me awake at night with his wonderful Music. It is great to hear the Celtic harp  without other instruments. So pure, so magical, it is something that you can listen to again and again.