Music: Q&A with Cathie Ryan


(@Steve Farmer)

How It’s New York: Cathie Ryan lives in Connecticut these days, and often plays in NYC. Look for her CD release here on Oct. 14!
How It’s Irish: Cathie is Irish-American from Chicago, and lived a few years in Ireland before moving back last year. She was recently on the cover or Irish Music Magazine, to which I sometimes contribute (didn’t write this one, though!).

We did a Q&A for Irish Examiner USA with Cathie a few months ago, and are putting it up now before she’s inducted into the Michigan Irish American Hall of Fame at the Michigan Irish Music Festival this weekend! When we wrote this the CD wasn’t out yet– but it’s available now. This is not our review– but I’ll just say it’s great, OK? With “Daddy” and “The Wishing Well” particularly strong.

 Here are her thoughts about the induction too (more details below). Cathie writes:

 Want to share this happy news. I feel humbled and deeply moved – don’t have many words except to say I am most happy for my parents. They immigrated to Michigan in 1957 and never thought this would happen to one of their own! Thank you, mom and dad – you gave me the gift of music and love – they have sustained me always. And thank you to those who chose me for this award.

The Muskegon Irish American Society has announced its founding of the Michigan Irish American Hall of Fame. The purpose of the Michigan Irish American Hall of Fame is to recognize past and present Irish Americans with substantial ties to Michigan who have made significant contributions in areas such as Public Service, Philanthropy, Business and Industry, Arts and Entertainment, Religion, Education, and Sports.

Each year the members of the Hall of Fame will be inducted in September during the Michigan Irish Music Festival, which draws thousands of visitors to the Muskegon area. The inaugural class of members of the Hall of Fame will be inducted at noon on Saturday, September 15, on the Kerry Stage of the Michigan Irish Music Festival –

Back in September, we reported here that Cathie Ryan was working on a new CD.
It’s not out yet, but should be available in a few months, and a few lucky devils got advance copies at recent gigs in Chicago.
Cathie’s still working on the CD, which means those early versions will someday be as rare as The Beatles’ “butcher” cover of Yesterday and Today.

The new CD, Through Wind and Rain, will be released in September, Cathie’s first studio recording in over seven years.
The album will reflect the Detroit native’s time in Ireland and her return to America last year, after eight years in Dingle.
Cathie wrote to us,

“I am an Irish American singer. The roots to Ireland within me are strong, but everything that has grown from them has mostly happened here in America. So both forces flow through my singing and through every song I choose to sing.”

Through Wind and Rain includes some traditional songs, and originals from Cathie and others. One thing Cathie’s excited about is that many of the song-writers are women.

“Women have a hand in every single song on the CD. I love that – and it makes a difference. You can hear it.”

Cathie Ryan (@Joe Sinnott)

In the past, Cathie wrote, she wanted to avoid comparison to other great singers-she’s now realized that that was

“nonsense. I decided to open this CD with one of my favorite songs by Kate Rusby. And I follow it with another by Mairead ni Mhaonaigh [of Altan: read our interview with her here). She graciously allowed me to do a translation (from the Irish) of one of her songs, a lullaby. It came out beautifully.”

For the first time on one of Cathie’s album, there’s also a set of tunes, from her band which features Matt Mancuso on fiddle, Patsy O’Brien on guitar, and Brian Melic and percussion:

“I love the way Patsy, Matt and Brian play tunes, they have such lift in their playing – full of life and spirit. I thought it was high time to add their tunes to a CD. Our live shows mix tunes and songs so it seemed overdue.”

Guitarist John Doyle, who’s busy playing with The Teetotallers (read our interview here, concert review here, and listen to the podcast here!),plays on  the album with Cathie, who produced. But that’s not all.

Cathie explained that others on the album include Donogh Hennessy (two of the tracks were recorded in Dingle at Donogh’s studio), Michelle Mulcahy, Joanie Madden, Seamus Egan, Pauline Scanlon, Eilis Kennedy, Fiona McBain, Aoife O’Donovan, Michael McGoldrick and more.
Oh Cathie, Cathie, Cathie. How are we ever going to wait until September?

 About the Michigan Irish American Hall of Fame:

The 2012 members of the Michigan Irish American Hall of Fame are these Irish Americans:

Public Service: Frank Kelly, former Attorney General of Michigan. Mr. Kelley will be present for the induction.

Philanthropy: Thomas Hume, West Michigan lumberman of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

(@Joe Sinnott)

Business and Industry: Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company.

Arts and Entertainment: Cathie Ryan, Detroit native who is one of the most important vocalists and song writers in Irish music today. (Cathie Ryan is performing at this year’s Michigan Irish Music Festival.)

Religion: Fr. Solanus Casey, Detroit Capuchin priest who is being considered for sainthood. Capuchin Brother Richard Merling will attend the induction.

For additional information, contact:
Kevin Donovan
President of the Muskegon Irish American Society
Port City Construction, Muskegon, MI

Gwen Orel
About the Author

The only New York journalist who writes for both the Forward and Irish Music Magazine.