Sharon Shannon Biography

8 June 1968, Corrofin, County Clare, Eire. A solo performer on accordion and fiddle, both Shannon’s parents were dancers, and her brothers and sisters all played musical instruments. Initially she played local clubs with them. While still in her teens she joined Disirt Tola, with her sister Mary, the group then heading to the USA for live engagements. Shannon was asked to provide the music for Brendan Behan’s play, The Hostage, at the Druid Theatre. She later joined Arcady, along with Frances Black, James Delaney, Patsy Broderick and Ringo McDonagh (formerly with De Dannan). Shannon remained with them for about a year, and in 1989 went to the Glastonbury Festival, as a guest of Mike Scott of the Waterboys, as their accordion player. She remained with the band for 18 months, recording and touring worldwide in the process.

On leaving the Waterboys Shannon commenced a solo tour with Christy Moore. Finally, in 1991, she released her long awaited debut album, Sharon Shannon. The album was well-received, and featured a number of respected musicians, including Dónal Lunny, Mike Scott and Adam Clayton (U2). Shannon’s appearance on the following year’s A Woman’s Heart compilation, a bestseller in Ireland, helped promote her name to a wider audience. As a performer she quickly captured the imagination of the folk scene, while subsequent albums revealed a more experimental edge by making bold forays into reggae and world music styles. The 1994 release Out The Gap featured substantial input from veteran reggae producer Dennis Bovell, while the follow-up Each Little Thing saw Shannon tackling songs by Chilean folk group Inti-Illimani and pop legends Fleetwood Mac. UK singer Kirsty MacColl was on hand to help out on a lush reading of Astor Piazzolla’s ‘Libertango’.

In 2001, Shannon made her debut for the Compass label with the country-inspired recording The Diamond Mountain Sessions, on which she was joined by guest artists including Jackson Browne, Steve Earle and John Prine. The album was an Irish bestseller and Shannon was garlanded with a host of awards in her native country. A live album from the subsequent tour, featuring her band the Woodchoppers, was released at the end of the year. Her next studio album, Libertango, included the previously released Kirsty MacColl collaboration on the title track, while other vocalists included Sinéad O’Connor and rapper Marvel.

In 2005, Shannon collaborated with fiddler Frankie Gavin (De Dannan), flautist Mike McGoldrick (Capercaillie) and guitarist Jim Murray on the wonderful Tunes. The concert CD/DVD package Live At Dolans, recorded at Dolans Warehouse in Limerick, captured Shannon’s terrific live show, with notable special guests including Damien Dempsey and Mundy. The DVD eclipsed some notable contenders to go straight to the top of the Irish charts. Shannon then renewed acquaintances with McGoldrick and Murray, and with virtuoso fiddler Dezi Donnelly also along for the ride, embarked on a worldwide tour. The quartet also completed two studio albums, one a limited edition release for the Australian market.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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