For our second appointment with the Present and Future of Irish Music, we meet Bernadette Morris, born in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, and currently based in Belfast. Her debut album ‘All the Ways you Wander’ has received critical acclaim and won her a larger audience; it has been produced by Seán Óg Graham of Beoga and it has a rich mix of old traditional songs brought back to life and contemporary songs from the writing of Barry Kerr and John Spillane.
Paul Brady (!) has written about her: “Of the younger up and coming artists’ records in the Irish traditional vein, Bernadette Morris’ CD ‘All The Ways you Wander’ is one of the best this year. Bernadette’s sweet pure voice rings clear above the rich and diverse arrangements, on a well-chosen collection of songs, both traditional and contemporary.”
Let’s try to know her better and to introduce her music to the Italian audience:
- Dear Bernadette, your debut album, “All The Ways you Wander” is a mix of old traditional and contemporary Irish songs; who do you consider as your teachers, or your reference points?
I have been influenced by lots of different teachers and singers. I have always admired the singers – Dolores Keane, Paul Brady, Nanci Griffith, John Spillane, Kate Rusby and Cara Dillon. I also have had help from song collectors Brian Mullen and Sean Corcoran and indirectly from Cathal McConnell’s book of songs.
- Speaking about the ballads you have chosen to insert in it among the great number of Irish folk songs, what did motivate your selection?
Donal Lunny advised me to look for older songs – that had not been recorded for many years and to search the archives – I spent a day at the Irish Traditional Music Archives in Dublin which opened a few avenues. Brian Mullen suggested a good few songs and I bought Cathal McConnell’s book of songs and found a couple of gems there. I love songs that tell a story and have some emotional content.
- I know you were working as a television producer, but you bravely decided to leave it to dedicate yourself completely to the music. What is behind this choice? How could you find the courage to do it?
I enjoy singing so much that I decided it was only fair to myself to give it a proper try and by going freelance it allowed me to spend more time working on the music.
And now, please let us ask you our 4 FAQ 4:
- What kind of music does Bernadette Morris like to hear? What is on your CD reader or MP3 player right now (apart from “All The Ways you Wander”)?
- We love to speak and write about Irish culture, generally speaking. Any suggestions about books or writers from the Emerald Island to help a foreigner to understand you, Irish people, better?
I am not a big reader of factual books but I do love Seamus Heaney’s poetry and Barry Kerr writes the most amazing songs about Ireland and Irish culture. One of his songs ‘The Leaving Song’ appears on my album.
- Italy – Ireland: it seems there is a special bond between these 2 countries (at least from our point of view), probably beginning with our forefathers who immigrated in America. Thinking of Italy, what does come to your mind? What do you know, like (or not) of this country?
Wonderful food, great shoes, fashion, beautiful scenery – its all good and I hope to come out to Italy to play some music at some stage – all invitations welcome!
- This is very interesting; I hope someone will read it and be ready to invite you: it will be great to listen to you fron an Italian stage. Any other projects for your future? What would you like to be when you grow up?
I’ve got married last Friday the 2nd August so I would like to be a good wife and hopefully a good mother in time and able to continue singing songs at festivals and concerts in Ireland and further afield!
Wow, that’s a great news! So, our best wishes Bernadette: ” Sláinte chuig na fir, agus go mairfidh na mná go deo!”