Irish Singer/Songwriter Coming To The Black Box Friday
By Ken DeLaat
Karan Casey has long been a fixture in the Irish music scene with her blend of traditional ballads and contemporary sounds and on Friday she is bringing her show to the Dogwood for a St Patricks Day concert that looks to be a special evening. She is a strong advocate for the rights of women in her home country as well as for all women and her music spreads a message of love and inclusion.
We caught up with the talented Ms. Casey via cell phone as she was heading for East Lansing
to perform Wednesday night at the Ten Pound Fiddle. With a delightful sounding brogue and a friendly demeanor she answered my call with “Hi Ken. how ya goin’?”
We chatted a bit then I posed a few questions.
What led you to singing as a career?
My Dad is a fantastic singer and my uncle and 2 grannies were great singers so there was always a lot of singing in the house. They had a lot of parties and you were expected to do a song or a poem so there was a lot of singing. Then I was very fortunate in primary school I had a great teacher who was a big influence. She’d be baking biscuits at her house and have you over and next thing you know you’d be singing songs.
That sounds wonderful. Especially the biscuits.
Yeah it was. I can still taste the butter.
One of many mentors?
Yeah I’ve been blessed with people who have been generous and kind and wanted people to sing… traditional songs in particular. They were very generous with their time. I’ve had that community all my life and it's such a great thing
You were one of the primary movers of FairPlé, an organization focusing on the role of women in the music industry. Tell us a little about it.
That's right. We got it going in 2018. It's the Irish word for discussion. We started having discussions about the role of women in traditional Irish music and arts. Over thirty sessions in Vienna, Boston, New York, Cork, Belfast, all over the world really. It was a chance to figure out what were the issues for women. There was a small amount of pushback with some saying there was no sexism in the industry but we all knew better. It’s created a camaraderie and I’m proud of the work we’ve done. It’s become like an HR for artists. They help out with counseling and many other areas. It’s a good story
Anything surprise you after getting involved in this?
I am a woman of privilege in this traditional music world. Somewhat insulated and less vulnerable to abuse that can happen to lesser known artists. Another group, the irish #MeToo or #MiseFosta set up an instagram account and chronicled a lot of incidents of abuse and I have to say I was very disturbed at the extent of it.
As an older woman (I’m 55 this year) a lot of my generation, you know we’ve been silenced and I think I lived under the illusion that it didn’t happen in such a wholesome scene like traditional music.or at least that was the image projected. You think that it can’t happen in this kind of art scene but of course it does.
You have a new album ‘Nine Apples of Gold That just came out.
Yeah. A lot of the songs are about holding other women up. I live in a country where I claim the suffering of Irish women and some hope in what we can do about it.
You know it's ironic to me. I first came to the states 30 years ago when Ireland didn’t have these rights for women and gay marriage was illegal. And I was so proud of Ireland that we stepped forward and campaigned on those issues. The world is a much better place when we promote love and inclusion. I think that’s a lot of what the album is about.
You've grown in your feminism?
I’ve grown in being able to speak about it. I think in the political campaign FairPlé I was definitely up there on a platform so I had to figure out what I was saying.
What should people expect on Friday?
Well, you know some funny stories, conversations from the road and songs about love, family traditions Ireland and a good time. Live music is a gift and there is love and trust in the room. You don’t go away from a gig not feeling happy or at least buoyed up some. Your sense of spirit is restored and you feel good after.
Do yourself a favor and catch a few of Ms. Casey’s tunes on YouTube then get your Irish on with a St Patty’s Day concert that will ‘buoy you up a little’
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