“Irish soprano Claudia Boyle … excels in the virtiginous flounces of the Countess’ coloratura.” The Guardian
A former member of the Salzburger Festspiele’s prestigious Young Singers Project, Irish Soprano Claudia Boyle has dramatically raised her international profile in recent seasons through highly-acclaimed performances in Zurich, Rome, London, Berlin and New York.
Highlights of the current season include a role debut as Leila (The Pearl Fishers) conducted by Roland Böer for English National Opera, Helena in Trojahn’s Orest for Opernhaus Zürich under Erik Nielsen, a reprise of the role of Dede in Bernstein’s A Quiet Place with Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and Kent Nagano (recorded for DECCA release) and a first appearance in Tokyo with NHK Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Symphony No.8 under Chief Conductor, Paavo Järvi.
Attracting considerable praise for an exceptional vocal versatility and dramatic strength along the way, Boyle has made a number of important role and house debuts since her time with the Salzburg YSP including Konstanze (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) at Komische Oper Berlin, Tytania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) conducted by James Conlon at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor) with Danish National Opera under Martin André. She made her house debut at Semperoper Dresden as Adina (L’elisir d’amore) under Matteo Beltrami, created the role of May-Shan in Christian Jost’s opera Rote Laterne under Alain Altinoglu in her house debut at Opernhaus Zürich and made her Edinburgh International Festival debut in the world premiere of Donnacha Dennehy’s chamber opera The Last Hotel. She received particular critical praise for her company debut with English National Opera as Mabel in Mike Leigh’s production of The Pirates of Penzance and appeared for the first time last season with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden as Cecily Cardew (The Importance of Being Earnest) in performances at the Barbican Theatre, London and on tour at the Rose Theater, New York with the New York Philharmonic under Ilan Volkov. A testament to her linguistic strengths, Boyle made her debut as Verdi’s Gilda (Rigoletto) at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma under Renato Palumbo to overwhelming audience and critical acclaim.
Having seen the reaction of the audience, spellbound by what I regard, after almost 50 years in the business, as the greatest female voice ever in Ireland,
The challenge of taking on and creating and developing a career for Melanie in the new age of the internet is immense. However I feel the quality of the act is unquestionable – simply the best voice we have ever heard in Ireland.
Pat Egan, Personal Manager of Melanie McCabe
Having gone through the highs and lows of Xfactor, I genuinely believe now that it may have been the best thing that ever happened to me and as successful as the XFactor is, it only gives you 5 minutes of fame. I wanted something that I now realise wasn’t real and I definitely want a real career in music.
The good news is I’ve signed a management deal with someone who really believes in my talent as a singer and future concert artist. I’ve had so many approaches and promises made to me by all kinds of people since the age of 14 and nothing’s ever seemed right for me. Pat Egan is a very experienced and successful concert promoter and manager and has taken over my career. I’ve started recording my first demos and did my first photo shoot this week.
I look forward to a new challenge as a recording artist and concert performer.
Phil Coulter is an Irish musician, songwriter and record producer. He was awarded the Gold Badge from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors in October 2009.
Coulter has amassed 23 platinum discs, 39 gold discs, 52 silver discs, two Grand Prix Eurovision awards; five Ivor Novello Awards, which includes Songwriter of the Year; three American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishersawards; a Grammy Nomination; a Meteor Award, a National Entertainment Award and a Rose d'or d'Antibes. He is one of the biggest record sellers in his native land.
‘Jealous Of The Angels’ is a song written by talented singer/songwriter Jenn Bostic after the tragic death of her Father. Remarkably Donna’s album Celtic Lady Vol. 2 went into the US Billboard World Music Album Charts this week. It has been a meteoric rise for the Co. Tyrone singer.
Donna Taggart first came to prominence in 2011 when her acclaimed debut album ‘Celtic Lady Vol. 1’ was picked up by highly respected BBC Radio Ulster presenter Gerry Anderson. Gerry described Donna as a ‘very special singer’ and predicted a big future for the Co. Tyrone lady. ‘Bright Blue Rose’ was the hit single from that first album and provided the platform for Donna to establish herself as one of the most popular wedding, hotel and concert performers in Ireland.
A second album followed in 2013 (Celtic Lady Vol.2). This led to TV appearances on Ireland West Music TV Christmas show alongside the cream of musical talent in Ireland including Nathan Carter.
Balancing her busy schedule with becoming a new Mummy the Omagh native was inspired to record ‘Mom’ which was released to coincide with Mother’s Day in 2015. Donna had another hit single on her hands as it peaked at No.1 in the iTunes UK and Ireland Easy Listening Chart. ‘Mom’ is the new single from Donna’s much anticipated third album due to be released late 2016. With a new album and tour planned it’s exciting times ahead for Donna. More details to follow on Donna’s website, Facebook and Twitter.
Donna works with children who are on the Autism Spectrum. Her background is in Children’s education, behavioural support to young children and children who are on the Autism Spectrum.
In 1974, when Sandy (Philomena) was 19, she came back to Ireland and immediately put together a cabaret group called Sandy Duskey and Easy Listenin. Her stage name came from the Duskey Road Show and Sandy Koufax (an AMerican baseball player Gerry had idolised as a child). Easy Listenin was originally Sandy, Gerry Gallagher (Magic and the Kim Newport Band) on bass, Gerry Feeney (Dee Leydon & The Powermen) on keyboards, and Ballisodare drummer, Sean Savage. The band toured the northwest of Ireland and was an instant success. Before long, Sean and Gerry Feeney left the band and were replaced by Dick Lynott (Sean Gallagher & the Quarrymen) on drums and James Blennerhassett (Mary Black) on bass (both would later play with the Kim Newport Band at different times). Gerry moved to guitar and Sandy’s easy going personality made her a natural for the cabaret scene. However, her powerhouse vocals soon attracted attention!
In the summer of 1974, Ballina manager Tom Kelly, spotted her and recognizing her talent, offered her a spot with his band, Gary Street and the Fairways after the departure of their previous female vocalist, Karen King. In In 1976, Hawk Records signed Sandy to a contract and her first single was released, Come Back Billie Jo, a country number and a major departure for the more hard edged Fairways whih cracked the Irish charts at number 13. Sandy had arrived.
For the next few years, Gary and Sandy shared the spotlight as Gary Street, Sandy Duskey and the Fairways. Sandy describes it as a somewhat tumultuous relationship acting as a “couple” on stage, while rarely speaking off stage. As time passed, Sandy talent showed through garnering more fans for herself and the band. Eventually, Gary (real name Joe Conway) left and emigrated to England where he continued to perform until he sadly passed away in 2003. Following Gary’s departure, the band brought in Sandy’s sister, Barbara, along with her cousin from Wales, Nina (real name Marian) and they became the Duskey Sisters and the Fairways.
With the continued success under the Duskey Sisters banner, the band soon dropped the use of the Fairways name and became know as just The Duskey Sisters, and they took the ballroom scene by storm. Playing bass in the band was Tom’s brother, Michael Kelly and he and Sandy were soon dating and eventually married. In 1981, the Duskeys got their first crack at Eurovision when they sang, Where Does That Love Come From in the Irish National Song Contest. They came in third behind another trio of females, Sheeba.
In 1982, the band was again competing in the National Song contest singing the Sally Keating song, Here Today, Gone Tomorrow. The second time proved the charm and Sandy and the band won the contest, representing Ireland in Eurovision. Click here to see a clip of their appearance. The record went to number 12 in the Irish charts, but its success was short lived. Joining the girls for the contest, and subsequently on tour for a short time, was Danny Duskey, another of Sandy’s cousins from Wales. Although they didn’t win at Eurovision, the success convinced Sandy that she had what it would take to make it internationally.
Fate dealt Sandy and the band a serious blow when they were involved in a serious road accident in 1983. The band was off the road for a period and while she recuperated, they decided to make the switch from the dying pop music scene to the growing country market in Ireland. By the mid 1980’s, the ballroom scene in Ireland had been hit hard by discos and Sandy decided it was time to go back to her roots in cabaret and country music, changing to her married name, Sandy Kelly.
In 1984, Sandy and the band started back on the road with a complete change of programme. Following their sparkle pop performance in Euroivision a couple of year’s earlier, Sandy partnered with the king of Irish Country, BIg Tom for her first single under her new name. If I Needed You was an instant success and broke into the Irish Top Ten at number 10, her first record to do so in eight years. Firmly establish as a country artist, Sandy continued to go from strength to strength.
Over the next few years, Sandy and her band continued to play the country circuit and in early 1989, Sandy reluctantly recorded the Patsy Cline standard, Crazy. Reluctantly because at the time she was doing country rock and original material, and she “felt that Crazy belonged very much to Patsy Cline.” The record went on to be Number 13 in the Irish charts and became the country’s biggest selling record of 1989.
At that time, Johnny Cash was touring Ireland and he heard the record on the radio and called Sandy, inviting her to his show. During his performance, he invited her up on stage to sing. Johnny was so taken with Sandy’s talent, he invited her to Nashville and they recorded “Woodcarver” together which became Sandy’s second gold record in Ireland. Sandy toured the US extensively for the next few years and returned to Ireland to do her own TV series three years running and also created her acclaimed one woman show based on Patsy Cline’s life.
Sandy’s relationship with Johnny Cash would last until his death in 2003 and they would go on to record Ring Of Fire in 1990 which would reach number 21 in the Irish Charts.
Once again, Sandy’s talent was obvious and she was asked to go to London to recreate the part in the Mervyn Conn’s highly successful West End show, Patsy Cline – The Musical. The show also starred Sandy’s friend, George Hamilton IV whom she had met and recorded with in Nashville. The show ran for five years, taking up all of Sandy’s time. Following this, Sandy then played Tammy Wynette in another musical, Stand By Your Man, before subsequently adapting the Patsy Cline musical to create a touring version of the show, Patsy Cline, Music & Memories, with George joining Sandy once again as narrator.
In the early 2000’s, Sandy divided her time between touring Ireland and England with George Hamilton IV with a tribute to the Grand Ole Opry (George has been a member for over 40 years), touring Ireland with her own show, and frequent trips to the US where she is working on a Broadway show based on her own life story.
Towards the end of the decade, Sandy took a little break from live performing, except for her annual tours with the Patsy Cline show and became the host of her own country music show on Sligo’s new Ocean FM station. For an audio sample of Sandy on the air, please click here.
Eventually, the stage called to Sandy again and after the release of her most recent CD, she hit the road again with her own show as well as regularly performing in a variety of Country Music shows which have become a staple of the Irish scene these days such as The Queens of Irish Country show and others. She remains one of Ireland most enduring stars.