For this installment of the SOTI Singer Q&As, I’m happy to introduce an audio component. I think hearing the singers in their own voices adds a great deal. Please forgive a bit of a digital sound that can result from recording from Skype, but it’s still a fair deal better than the sound over a phone.
Brian Hart (second from left) pictured here with members of his band Bua.
In 2004, Brian Hart (Brían Ó hAirt) was the first American to win the ballad singing competition in the senior division at the All-Ireland Fleadh. Brian is a huge advocate for the Irish language, teaching the language throughout the U.S.A. and through his involvement with the Language Hunters. In fact, Brian came to Irish song through his interest in the language. I first met Brian through his role as a teacher of Irish at the Indiana Celtic Communities’ first Celtic Culture Weekend in 2009, and I have been inspired by his love of the language, the music, and the culture ever since.
He has just completed another successful tour with the great singer from Northern Ireland, Len Graham, with whom he has been singing for some time. The two have recorded a CD through the efforts of a kickstarter.com campaign in 2012. I’m very happy include to Brian through this series on SOTI.
There are so many versions of this song and so many wonderful videos and recordings that it is difficult to choose only one. I think this old TV clip of Rosie Stewart might be my favorite, though. The thing I like about her singing is it’s ability to punch through a one inch steel door like a hot knife through butter, but her demeanor is so natural. What you see/hear is exactly what you get, and it’s marvelous. Enjoy!
Erin’s Green Shore
One morning as I went out walking,
Twas down by a clear flowing stream.
I set down on a bed of primroses
And I gently fell into a dream.
I dreamt I beheld a fair female,
Her features I’d ne’er saw before,
And she sighed from the wrongs of her country,
As she rambled around Erins green shore
Her eyes were like two sparkling diamonds,
Or the stars on a cold, frosty night.
Her cheeks were like to blooming roses,
And her skin it was ivory white.
She was dressed in the richest attire,
And green was the mantle, she wore
Decked around with the shamrock and roses
That bloom along Erins green shore
Fionnuala Maxwell and guitarist John McCartin performed at The Dock in Carrick on Shannon, Co Leitrim, as part of a live webcast streamed on IrelandWestTrad.com. And thanks to LiveTrad.com for including the lyrics on the video! Great song. Handsome Polly-O is from a recording made by Seamus Ennis of Thomas Moran of Mohill, Co. Antrim.
Oh a regiment of soldiers came to Mohill-o
A regiment of soldiers came to Mohill-o
And the captain on parade
He fell in love with a ladies’ maid
And the name that she was called was handsome Polly-o
Will you ‘list in the army, handsome Polly-o? (x2)
Ah you’ll get a horse to ride
And your rifle by your side
And a whole band of music going afore ye-o.
Didn’t I give you your answer long, long ago? (x2)
That I ne’er intend to roam
Into any foreign shore
Nor to marry a poor soldier in the army-o.