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Thursday 23 October 2014

Singing superstar Sandi tracing her Killarney roots

Published 02/04/2014 | 05:36

Sandi Thom's grandmother Jean Power.

SCOTTISH singer-songwriter and internet sensation Sandi Thom travels to Killarney this month for a one-off gig but that's not her only purpose for visiting as she'll be delving into a little family history while she's in town.

Sandi's grandmother's family was originally from the Killarney area but the singer knows little else about the family or exactly where they lived.

"My grandmother was Jean Power, her father was Nicholas Power and the family left Killarney for Scotland some time, possibly in the late 1800s," Sandi said, adding: "My grandmother eventually married Sligo man Charlie Riley and they had eight children, including my mother, Josephine".

The Aberdeen-born performer says her grandmother was also related to a certain Hollywood star with the Power surname.

"I've heard that I'm related to actor Tyrone Power who was a big star in the early 1950s and I've seen pictures of his daughter Romina. She looks very like me and is a singer as well, so there's definitely something in it," she says.

While she's looking forward to the Killarney gig she says the visit will be very different to her other trips away.

"It'll almost be like a pilgrimage as I've explored my Scottish roots but I'll certainly being doing a certain amount of research while in Killarney."

Sandi's trip will be short and sweet, just two days and she says she hopes to return in her own personal time with her other half too. That other half is New York-Italian blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa, and the couple actually got together when playing on the same bill in Cork.

"We fell in love in Cork and it was all down to the Rory Gallagher connection. I got him the original guitar strap used by Rory Gallagher when he was playing and it developed from there," she adds with a smile.

The 31-year-old shot to fame after posting the catchy number 'I wish I was a Punk Rocker' online and a series of 21 gigs streamed from her south London apartment helped rise her star further. She has supported bands like Snow Patrol and The Cure and so has come a long way from the early days of live streaming - or has she?

"If you've only heard me sing 'I wish I was a Punk Rocker', then you'll be pleasantly surprised when I perform but I don't snub my past: I still do webcasts of live gigs once a month."

Despite releasing a covers album last year, she says that 99 per cent of her live material is original, although watch out for a cover of Guns and Roses hit November Rain.

Sandi has never been to Killarney but she has played several Irish festivals, including Oxegen, and she has a story about that too.

"It was hilarious really," she states. "We were flying out from Glasgow from another festival and my drummer didn't realise he needed his passport so he couldn't fly. The tour manager eventually sorted something out and it was like 30 seconds before we were due to go on stage when he finally arrived. It was memorable and good fun in the end."

Sandi brings her two 12-string acoustic guitars, harmonica and 'porchboard - a foot tapping device with a bass beat - when she plays Killarney on Sunday, April 20.

She also brings an inquisitive mind so anyone with information that may help Sandi can contact us here at The Kerryman and we'll pass it on.

Kerryman

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