"As long as Dolores Keane is walking around the earth, I won't call myself a singer. I think she's the voice of Ireland ... I want the world to hear her voice". Nanci Griffith.
Dolores Keane was born in Caherlistrane, Co. Galway in the west of Ireland and was raised from the age of four in her grandmother's house by her aunts, Rita and Sarah Keane, who are themselves known throughout the world for their Sean Nůs singing.
She made her first recording for Radio Eireann at the age of five and somewhat later became a founder member of the now internationally known traditional Irish group, De Dannan. She toured with them for four years and had a number one single with "The Rambling Irishman". After moving to England with her husband John Faulkner, she worked on a series of film scores and programmes for the B.B.C. and formed two very successful bands, the "Reel Union" and "Kinvara". She recorded three albums during this period, "There Was A Maid", "Broken Hearted I'll Wander" and "Farewell to Eirinn".
She also toured with Planxty and collaborated with The Chieftains on the album "Bonapart's Retreat".
On her return to Ireland, she rejoined De Dannan for a time, to record their albums "Ballroom" and "Anthem" and a solo album, "Sail ”g Rua". The resumption of her solo career brought the very successful "Dolores Keane" and "Lion In A Cage" albums. The title track of the latter, a song written by John Faulkner protesting the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, brought Dolores her second number one single. She was delighted to perform the song live at the celebration of his release.
A new facet was added to Dolores' career when she played the female lead in the Dublin production of Brendan Behan's "The Hostage", a new translation by Niall Tobin and Michael Scott, the opening night of which was attended by Mary Robinson, the President of Ireland. Back on the music scene, Dolores was featured on "A Woman's Heart", a compilation of music by Irish women singers including Mary Black, Maura O'Connell and Elenor McEvoy, which is to date Ireland's best selling record ever. "A Woman's Heart vol. 2" was released in late 1994 and emulated it's predecessor, reaching album charts the world over.
Also in 1994, a solo album, entitled "Solid Ground", was released on the Shanachie label (available on Dara Records) and received critical acclaim in Europe and America.
In August 1995, Dolores received the prestigious Fiddler's Green Hall of Fame award in Rostrevor, Co. Down, for her "significant contribution to the cause of Irish music and culture". She also returned to the stage in the Dublin production of "Playboy of the Western World" in March / April of that year.
Dolores contributed to the RTE/BBC T.V. production "Bringing It All Back Home", a series of programmes illustrating the movement of Irish music (in particular) to America with the emigration of a large section of the population and it's influence on American contemporary music. Dolores was shown performing both in Nashville with musicians such as Emmylou Harris and Richard Thompson and in her homeplace with Rita and Sarah.
In August 1997, Dara records issued a retrospective collection of Dolores' work "The Best of Dolores Keane" which reached the number one spot in the album charts in it's second week of release.
Released in 1997, Dolores was featured on a collaborative album with Norwegian singer Rita Eriksen, consisting of Irish and Norwegian traditional songs.
In 1998 Dolores released a new album "Night Owl" which returns, to a large extent, to her "roots" in traditional music. This was originally recorded for a Norwegian record label and is now available in the U.S. on Alula Records.
Dolores has toured extensively throughout the world and has recently returned from America where she performed with De Dannan in Birmingham, Alabama and New York.
She is also featured singing with Tommy Sands the title track of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone", a celebration album of 39 songs written by Pete Seeger. Also participating in this album are, among others, Bruce Sringsteen, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Indigo Girls, Judy Collins and Roger McGuinn.
This millennium year Dolores has decided, after 25 years on the road, to "take it easy" for a while - if the production of two new music albums and a book plus a possible film role can be called "easy" ! We suspect that she will also be persuaded to make a (very) few concert appearances but she ain't sayin' nuthin' right now.
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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