Grammy-nominated Irish singer Maura O’Connell announced that her Grass Valley performance Friday will be her final show as part of her farewell tour.
O’Connell called the Center for the Arts to say that it will be her last show ever, said Marketing Manager Pamela Roberts.
She is not quitting the business, but has said she will no longer tour, Roberts added.
O’Connell will bring her original blend of traditional Celtic and contemporary Nashville, American Country and Bluegrass influences to Grass Valley Friday for a performance presented by the Center for the Arts.
O’Connell first came on the music scene in 1981 as the lead vocalist of the celebrated traditional Celtic group De Dannan. Later, her unmistakably rich voice would turn up in collaborations with Nashville artists like Jerry Douglas and Bela Fleck.
O’Connell’s narrative songs of love and life cross genres, from tones of old Ireland to sparkling new jazz and pop to revisited classics by Van Morrison, Lennon and McCartney.
Martin Scorsese cast O’Connell as an Irish migrant street singer in his epic film “The Gangs of New York.”
Born and raised in County Clare, Ireland, O’Connell was the third of four sisters, all influenced by their singing mother’s collection of opera and parlor song records. “I was aware of singing as an art form in itself,” O’Connell said.
She first started singing in folk clubs of her native Ireland.
“It was just the most natural thing in the world,” she remembered.
She formed a partnership with guitarist Mike Hanrahan, performing a mix of contemporary folk and American country music. In 1980, she joined the Celtic group De Dannan, and went on to be featured on their breakthrough 1981 album The Star Spangled Molly.
In the midst of her 1980s folk success, O’Connell became attracted to the experimental roots music of Bela Fleck’s New Grass Revival.
“They were instrumentalists who were not bound by the history of their instruments, from a generation who grew up listening to bluegrass, and the Beatles, and jazz. They brought all of that along, and pushed the envelope really far. There was an exciting feeling of creativity there–and a complete disregard for what anyone thought,” she said.
She followed that sound to America — and to Nashville, Tenn. New grass masters such as banjoist Bela Fleck and Jerry Douglas and others provided backup and production for most of her recorded work – including the Grammy-nominated “Helpless Heart” and “Blue is the Color of Hope.”
Her 2009 record, “Naked with Friends,” included appearances by Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, Kate Rusby, Paul Brady, Mary Black, Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien, Darrell Scott, Aoife O’Donovan (Crooked Still), Sarah Dugas (The Duhks), Mairéad Ní Mhaorigh, Moya Brennan, Liam Bradley, Declan O’Rourke, and O’Connell’s sister, Áine Derrane.
Opening the show will be local favorites, Paul Kamm and Eleanore MacDonald.
The duo have been writing and performing original, contemporary folk music for 30 years. Their music is a blend of contemporary and traditional styles. They are Kerrville, Telluride and Rocky Mountain New Folk award winners.
Since 1987 Kamm and MacDonald have independently produced nine albums of original music. Their music has been played on NPR as well as Community, College and Public radio stations around the world. Their 2010 CD, “From the Fire” features the work of guest artists Joe Craven, Nina Gerber, Bill Douglass and Tom Menig (Alela Diane).
Tickets to the 8 p.m. Friday performance are $22 for members of the CEtner, and $25 for the general public. They are available at the Center’s Box Office in person, by phone at 530-274-8384 ext. 14, online at www.thecenterforthearts.org or at BriarPatch Co-op.
For information, go to http://thecenterforthearts.org.