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High flying singer lands in Clare

WITH a host of performances in Lisdoonvarna this month, September will certainly be a busy time for singer Muriel O’Connor. Both Muriel and musical partner, Michael Cahill, have already performed in Shannon this month and are set to bring their show to Lisdoonvarna’s Royal Spa Hotel for a number of dates, from September 5 to 18, with plans to showcase her new single.

Clare audiences have certainly taken the Limerick singer to heart, so much so that she has often been mistaken for a Banner woman herself.
“I spent some time working with Aer Lingus in Shannon and I did an awful lot of growing up in Clare. It’s got to the point where an awful lot of people have come out and asked me if I’m from Clare; even our van has a Clare reg. It’s like I’ve been adopted by the county. Clare has been an exceptionally good place for us, they have identified with what we do and have grown with us which is great,” she told us.
Muriel has been involved in music all her life, and has released four albums an EP and two singles. She recalled, “I was a publican’s daughter and there was music in the house from the day I was born. Literally I have been singing since I was a baby.  It was part and parcel of my life and at that particular time, music in bars was a big thing so it was only natural for me to continue with it. My studies took priority for a while, I was the type that was so concentrated on music that I’d almost forget about the lessons but my mother was fairly adamant about the academic side.”
Going on to work in Aer Lingus in Shannon, Muriel continued with her musical career. “I double-jobbed a lot of my life. Even though I was full time employed. I was full time on the road with the music as well, keeping the two careers going.”
She eventually left her job last year, concentrating fully on her music. “Now for the first time in my life I have one job to look out for and it’s marvellous. Even though I loved my old job and it gave me an awful lot of stability, it’s great to be doing just music. Now I’m living the dream job,” she said.
While Muriel and Michael first began working together in a more country style, their music has now adapted to feature more middle of the road including rock’n’roll, country and light pop.
“We’ve tried to keep in line with the changes that have happened in the last 10 or 15 years, and life in Ireland has changed dramatically. If we didn’t change we’d be gone out of business but thankfully we have been allowed to grow and the audience has accepted the change that we made in the band. Audiences have become not just customers to us, but our friends and we have got to know them over the years, their children and grandchildren. We have people coming to our shows aged from nine to 90,” she said.
Muriel mainly concentrates on singing the songs she loves best, bringing her own individual style to well loved favourites. “The songs that were created in the sixties, seventies and eighties, people are still singing them now they were just so creative and brilliant. But if you were to ask about the charts of the last week or month, the songs just aren’t sticking as much,” she said.
Although she admires many different performers, musically she doesn’t model herself on anybody in particular. “I’m influenced by people like Joe Dolan, Cliff Richard, Tom Jones, Tina Turner. If you look at all of those artists there is definitely things I can identify with. It reminds me of a Christmas cake, a little bit of this, a bit of that and hopefully it won’t flop in the middle. I am influenced by a combination of different artists, but I like to be myself and bring my own style to what I do. You’ve got to do your own thing and you’ve got to do it as well as you can.”
When asked what keeps her drawn to music she says, “It’s absolutely wonderful, music is a tonic to people. If your in a bad form and you hear a good song, it automatically lifts your spirit and it doesn’t matter if its jazz, country, folk, whatever, you can identify with it and it’s a tonic mentally. Anything that can do that is good.”
While the life of a singer may seem glamorous, Muriel insists it’s a lot of hard work and travel, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. “When we are playing in Lisdoonvarna we will be coming from Limerick each time. In our profession it’s, as they say, have horse will travel, it’s just part and parcel of the job. People see the two hours you do on stage, they never see it from the time you leave home, put your gear up, do the soundchecks, outfit changes, then taking everything down again afterwards to roll back home again. The whole thing normally takes nine or ten hours, it’s a full day’s job. Because we deliver it in such a fun way, people think it’s easy.”
She describes her shows as being “lively with a party atmosphere” and she says they are particularly looking forward to the upcoming Clare shows. “I love Clare and I love playing there, I have got to know people there like they’re my own next door neighbours. There are certain places around the country where it’s like coming home and Clare is one of those places.”
Muriel will be performing at the Royal Spa Hotel in Lisdoonvarna on September 5, 6, 11, 12, 13 and 18. For full details contact 061 225928.

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