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It looks as if it's going to be the year of the singer

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Karen Underwood

Karen Underwood

Karen Underwood

Judging by bookings for the early part of the year, 2015 looks set to be the year of the voice. Singers are very much to the fore, beginning with Karen Underwood, who returns to the John Field Room on Tuesday night with her show, Of Ladies Lost and Found.

The Chicago-born vocalist puts her heart and soul into songs associated with a wide range of stylists, from Billie Holiday to Amy Winehouse. Her pianist, John O'Brien, is perhaps too classical for this type of programme; it would be great to hear her with a swinger like Jim Doherty.

The award-winning Ian Shaw appears in JJ Smyth's on Saturday, January 31, accompanied by the Phil Ware Trio. Shaw's new CD is called A Ghost In Every Bar, but nothing beats the live experience when it comes to this dynamic and fun-loving singer.

The National Concert Hall programme for February 15 announces 'Curtis Stigers and his musicians'. The musicians' names are not given, but the popular crooner favours a jazz backing, so undoubtedly they will be good.

If you think all the genuine blues singers are dead, think again. Lucky Peterson (vocals, guitar, organ) is the real thing, even though he is from Buffalo, New York, far from the Mississippi Delta. He is booked for Vicar Street on March 12.

California-based Melanie O'Reilly comes to the Pavilion, Dun Laoghaire, on April 19 for a concert celebrating the unforgettable Anita O'Day. This tribute earned standing ovations at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The vocal quartet Manhattan Transfer had to cancel a Cork Jazz Festival booking several years ago, but is coming to Ireland at last this year, playing the Cork Opera House on May 1 and the National Concert Hall on May 2.

As well as all these international names, look out for appearances by home-grown singers like Honor Heffernan, Stella Bass and Susannah de Wrixon.

Sunday Independent