12 July 2019 | By Hannah Mussey
Recently, 21-year-old Sibéal Ní Chasaide announced a release date of August 2nd for her first full-length album “Sibéal”! Declared “the young woman of a new Ireland” by the Irish Independent, the contemporary Irish singer is no stranger to tradition.
Born in the Ráth Chairn Gaeltacht, County Meath, the university student grew up in a culture that lives and breathes traditions. Many of which a lot of the country has all but forgotten about. She sings with heavy influence of sean-nós and brings an ancient Irish tradition into the contemporary space. For those not in the know; sean-nós (meaning ‘old style’) is a style of singing dating back hundreds of years. It has been handed down orally from generation to generation.
It’s a style that the world doesn’t hear much of these days. Especially from people in their early 20s. However, Ní Chasaide is able to use it to carve out her own space with incredible confidence.
“We all pick [sean-nós] up from the people around us,” she says of the ancient aural tradition. This unique form of story-telling still thrives in her hometown. “The teachers never taught us anything other than the actual repertoire. We never trained our voices; we picked it up from listening.”
Ní Chasaide first attracted attention when she was a 5th-year student when performing “Mise Éire” live on RTÉ One as part of the 1916 centenary commemorations. The moving performance was a nod to an Ireland of the past and reminded listeners that, while they may be living in a widely different world today, Ireland is still shaped by its storied history and undying traditions.
Since then, Sibéal has performed across Ireland, the UK, and the United States, bringing her unique perspective to new listeners all over the world. On the 28th of September, Sibéal will perform in Sydney, Australia at the inaugural ZoneOut International Music Festival presented by Universal Music Australia.
This full-length album comes after a successful EP, which was recorded live at Abbey Road Studios. On it covers of songs like “Human” by Rag’n’Bone Man fit alongside traditional Irish-language poems and songs such as “Mná na hÉireann” (“Women of Ireland”). Not to mention folk staples like “The Parting Glass” and “He Moved Through the Fair.” Each cover allows her intense and haunting voice to take centre stage. Minimalistic acoustic guitar and violin serve as a powerful backdrop.
She carefully chose the songs and poems to include on her album. Translating and arranging each on her own to weave together what came to be an evocative collection that seamlessly blends old and new. It’s an album unlike any other that you’ve heard. It’s definitely something that you want to pick up, as there’s just nothing else like it on the market right now.