Wednesday 13 December 2017

'I'm lucky to make a living from music'

Sharon Shannon talks to the Sligo Champion about her love of music and her plans to keep going

Jessica Farry

Her name is synonymous with traditional music, and her face is one of the most recognised when it comes to Irish music.

Sharon Shannon is as popular today as ever, and tickets for her Sligo Live show are selling fast, with less than a month to go.

The Clare native is no stranger to Sligo, having performed here many times, including at the Sligo Summer Festival a couple of years ago.

Performing in the Hawk's Well Theatre on Saturday, October 3rd as part of Sligo Live, Sharon cannot wait to bring her band with her to the North-West. Sharon's current band features long time collaborators, Jim Murray on acoustic guitar and backing vocals, Sean Regan on fiddle/percussion/beatbox and Jack Maher on electric guitar and vocals.

"I love going to Sligo, it's a great town and there's always a great buzz about the place. I'll have the band with me and we'll be doing stuff from the new album and all the oldies as well," she told The Sligo Champion.

"The music is all fairly lively, we hope to get people out dancing to the music."

Sharon is a musician who likes to surprise. While best known for her arrangements of traditional Irish tunes, she has always been eager to explore new styles, and has toured and recorded with a Who's Who of Irish and global musicians including Bono, Adam Clayton, Sinead O'Connor, Jackson Browne, John Prine, Steve Earle, The RTE Concert Orchestra, The Chieftains, The Waterboys, Willie Nelson, Nigel Kennedy, Alison Krauss and Shane MacGowan.

Her early career took a massive lift when she joined the seminal rock band, The Waterboys. Her first show with that band was to an audience of 50,000 on the main stage at Glastonbury.

Sharon's subsequent self-titled debut album was released worldwide and remains the best-selling album ever of traditional music in Ireland. The genre-defying star has had multi-platinum album sales and has had several number one albums, singles and DVDs. Her album Galway Girl went 4 times platinum in Ireland with the title track winning the Meteor award two years running for the most downloaded song.

"I've been doing gigs since I was 14 really. I started doing these gigs in about 1992.I love music. It's just such a great buzz. It's amazing when you can see that the audiences are enjoying it, it really spurs me on when I'm doing a gig," she said.

"It's what I do for a living. I'm lucky enough to enjoy music, and I'm lucky to make a living from it."

She has been performing for a lifetime, but Sharon says she is not on the road constantly. Nonetheless, even if she is on the road for a while, she appreciates how lucky she is to make a living from something she love so much.

"I'm not constantly on the road. I might have two or three gigs with six or seven days off so it's manageable. I might play a week somewhere but then I'll have time off afterwards. In September like I've played three gigs in Scotland with a great Scottish band. I'm doing a week of gigs in Lanzarote too."

"In October then I have a few gigs in the UK before I have Sligo Live. People ask me all the time if I'm travelling and on the road all the time. It's different every week."

Following Sligo Live, Sharon will travel to the United States for a number of gigs there. She continues to draw inspiration from trad music when writing new material.

"I always love the tunes I grew up with. When I write new tunes they are usually in the same vein as the tunes that I grew up with. I get a lot of ideas from trad music. I will keep going and keep playing music as long as I enjoy it. Life is great. I'm so lucky to make a living from this," she added.

Her most recent album Sacred Earth Sharon released In March, sees her bringing African music into the mix for the first time.

TRIP, the new Glasgow based traditional band everybody is talking about, are Sharon's special guests. The six members hail from Ireland, Scotland, England and the Isle of Man.

For tickets, check out or

Sligo Champion

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