Joe Heaney was born in Carna, Connemara in the west of Ireland in 1919, an area renowned as an outpost for Gaelic culture since the time of Oliver Cromwell. He was one of the finest most famous singers in the Irish 'sean-nós' (old style Gaelic singing) which is characterised by unaccompanied solo singing in a highly 'decorative' style.
Joe Heaney left Ireland in order to find employment and made an impact in the early days of the developing English folk scene. He moved to America in the 1960s and in his last years became artist in residence and teacher of Irish traditional singing at the University of Washington in Seattle and he still visited Carna each year.
The series of interviews recorded here were all conducted in 1963 by Ewan MacColl (1915-1989) and Peggy Seeger (born 1935) renowned folk revivalists, singers and musicians in their own right. The interviews explore both Joe Heaney's background and the history of Ireland as well as many examples of his singing and discussion of singing styles. The series of interviews was released jointly by Topic Records, London and Cló lar-Chonnachta of Indreabhán, Co Galway, Ireland in 2000 as 'The Road From Connemara: Songs and Stories told and sung to Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger' (TSCD 518D) or (CICD143). Information on the CD and transcripts of the interviews can be seen at the Musical Traditions website (The Magazine For Traditional Music throughout the World) at www.mustrad.org.uk/articles. Prior to this release on CD, the only public airing of the recordings seems to have been two short extracts in 'The Song Carriers' a series of fourteen radio programmes on the traditional songs and singers of Great Britain and Ireland which Ewan MacColl wrote and narrated for the BBC Midland Region in conjunction with Charles Parker as radio producer in 1965. See MS 4000/ 2/104 for written documentation on 'The Song Carriers' and MS 4000/ 5/1/11/38 for recording of one of 'The Song Carriers' radio programmes introduced by Ewan MacColl
arrangement: The tapes are arranged as follows:
MS 4000/5/1/5/1-4 Interviews of Joe Heaney re his Dec 1963
background, history of Ireland
and singing traditional songs and
discussing singing style
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