Wednesday 7 December 2016

Songbird Sibeal once silenced by shyness

The 17-year-old is set to pen her first album but she once gave up on a ­singing class due to crippling shyness, writes Niamh Horan

Published 03/04/2016 | 02:30

FLOURISHING TALENT: Sibeal Ni Chasaide from Co Meath pictured at Tankardstown House last week. Photo: David Conachy
FLOURISHING TALENT: Sibeal Ni Chasaide from Co Meath pictured at Tankardstown House last week. Photo: David Conachy

Her's was the voice that stirred a nation - a young woman who brought the words of Padraig Pearse to life.

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Amid all the State pomp and ceremony, the massed ranks of the Defence Forces marching in formation, and the retelling of the heroism and bloody conflict of the Rising, it was a song sung from the heart by a teenager that perhaps had the most resonance.

A young woman of the new Ireland, singing a song of the poet and ­revolutionary from the past.

And since the ­phenomenal reaction to her ­performance of Mise Eire (I am Ireland) at the ­Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Sibeal Ni ­Chasaide, a fifth-year student at Colaiste Iosagain, is preparing to write and release her first album in summer. While her evocative and powerful performance last Monday was spine tingling, Sibeal wasn't always the powerful songstress who held the audience in her thrall at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre.

Hailing from the ­Gaeltacht in Rath Chairn, Co Meath, the young singer pulled out of a Sean Nos singing class as a child due to crippling shyness.

It wasn't until the teacher, Mairead Ni Fhlatharta, offered to come to her house and teach her privately that her talent flourished.

As Sibeal explains: "I went to one singing class and didn't open my mouth. I was so shy and everyone else was so much older. But the teacher offered to come around to my house every week to teach me."

From the age of six, the youngster then began learning the ancient art of Sean Nos singing, developing a keen interest in singing beautiful love songs such as Una dheas ni Niadh.

Her big break came when her uncle, Patrick Cassidy, a respected composer who has worked on big movie titles such as Hannibal, Veronica Guerin, Salem's Lot, King Arthur and Layer Cake, flew home from Los Angeles three years ago for time out with his family and heard her sing.

"He just said 'we should do something together one day' and I didn't think anymore of it. Then, last April, he told me about a soundtrack he was making for the 1916 commemorations. We gathered in a room the following month, not a studio, just a room with a microphone - and threw out some ideas."

Steered by Cassidy, they created a new arrangement of Patrick Pearse's 1912 poem set to music, which was performed with the RTE Concert Orchestra live at a commemorative event and released on the 1916: The Irish Rebellion soundtrack.

Speaking about the ­reaction, she told the ­Sunday Independent: "It makes sense to me how ­people responded to it because it's Padraig Pearse' come-back - it's his own words that I am singing."

And looking on to the ­future, the singer said it is back to school for now but she is setting big plans in motion. "Since I started to break through and get ­somewhere with my singing, I'm ­definitely seeing more ­options," she said.

"I am planning to make an album in the summer and everything is on the table. I write my own songs so I would love to share them with people."

Sunday Independent

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