Aoife Scott is an award-winning Dublin-born folk singer and songwriter renowned for her ethereal, vibrant voice; highlights include a charming version of ‘The Dublin Saunter’. Her mother is Frances Black and her aunt is Mary Black.
What were you like growing up?
I was quiet and shy, which is a funny one because I’m the opposite of that now. My mam said that I smiled all the time.
Describe yourself in three words.
Hard-working, resilient, caring.
You’ve said your granny was an inspiration. How so?
My Granny Black ran a grocer’s on Charlemont Street. She sang to all the family and emphasised how important it was to appreciate your talent. You always had to do a party piece. She taught me that it’s a privilege to be asked to sing. I could be standing at a bus stop and if someone asks me to sing, I’ll do it.
You’re a Gaeilgeoir. Where did your love of Irish come from?
My mam was very passionate about wanting us to speak Irish even though she didn’t have it. So she sent us to Irish schools. It took over an hour to get to the secondary school in Stillorgan, but it was worth it. Being able to speak it is one of my proudest accomplishments. I lived on my own in Connemara for three years and the language supported me.
Best advice you were given?
What’s for you won’t pass you. If something is happening to you and you’re not really happy with it, I believe you just have to go through it and something better will come along. That’s how I got through the pandemic when all our gigs were cancelled.
Who are your role models?
My Ma has worked really hard not only in the music industry but in politics too. She keeps me sane when I’m feeling lost. She’s a singer, politician and everyone’s agony aunt. She set up Rise, a charity for family members who are affected by addiction. Her honesty about being a recovering alcoholic blows me away.
How did her addiction affect you?
As a kid, I didn’t know what was going on but I was aware of a sadness. But of course addiction affects family members. I believe that addiction is genetic and I have to be careful because I could go down the same road. I have an awareness of it now. It’s easier for me to be careful and not get sucked into the void.
Addictive personalities and the music industry can be a recipe for disaster. For you, what are the highs and lows of being a performer?
You could get addicted to the high of being on stage. It’s a great adrenaline buzz. One minute you’re on stage and the next morning, you’re at home in your pyjamas, watching Judge Judy, thinking, ‘This isn’t great.’
What drives you?
When I started in the music scene, I had all these goals. Before that, I had spent so long not answering the call of music. Now I love the joy of performing.
Did you develop any new habits during the pandemic?
I started to learn the Greek bouzouki over Zoom. It brings me so much joy. I’ve played it on stage a few times.
How did your musical family, including cousins Danny O’Reilly from The Coronas and Róisín O, shape you as a singer-songwriter?
I saw how hard they worked and I didn’t think that I could do it. You need to have a hardiness to do it – a drive to push back all the negative stuff. You are baring your soul to people, writing stories about yourself and sharing them with the world and hoping they will like them. It’s scary. I remember being at Danny’s 21st birthday party and seeing The Coronas for the first time and thinking, ‘They are going to go places.’
Tell us about a memorable gig.
Playing at TradFest a few years ago, everybody was singing along. I could see myself floating above the crowd. I looked out at the audience, expecting to see just my family. I didn’t recognise anyone. I said: ‘Did my mam pay you all to be here?’
‘Women of Note – Aoife Scott presents a Celebration of Female Folk Voices’ on January 26, 6.30pm, at St Patrick’s Cathedral is part of TradFest, January 26-30. See tradfesttemplebar.com / aoifescott.com