Tuesday 20 March 2018

Traveller singers to play Carnegie Hall

Breda Heffernan

IT TAKES generations to hone the kind of musical talent that two Traveller women will showcase in New York's Carnegie Hall this week.

The women will appear at the world-famous venue to deliver a rendition of traditional songs handed down from mother to daughter across the years. But it was a thoroughly modern phenomenon that got them their big break -- a video clip posted on YouTube.

Singers Selina O'Leary (19) from Tullow and Liz Connors (36) from Carlow will be performing a selection of songs handed down through Traveller families in front of an expected audience of up to 6,000 theatre-goers.

The women are participants in the 'Song for All' project, a partnership between the Education and Training Centre at Co Carlow VEC and the University of Limerick.

The project is designed to give students the chance to overcome the educational disadvantages they have faced by appealing to their love of music.

The two singers hit the big time after their lecturer Julie Tiernan posted one of Selina's past performances on YouTube, which led to the two women being invited to perform at Carnegie Hall this Friday.

Selina and Liz admitted to feeling a few butterflies as they prepare to jet out to the US for the biggest performance of their lives.

"It's a very big deal for me and as a member of the Traveller community," said Selina, who predicted she would be in floods of tears as she took to the stage.

"I'm used to singing on stage. . . but I've never sung for so many people. I think I will be very, very nervous.

"I'm proud of being a Traveller but I'm also proud of being Irish, too. I'm going over there as the two -- an Irish woman and a Traveller woman, everything goes together," she added.

Liz said it would be an outstanding night and said both she and Selina would give it their all.

Irish Independent

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