Pin It
Favorite

Duty-Free Indulgence 

Karan Casey is an Irish folk singer. Not the most common of professions these days.

click to enlarge Karan Casey
  • Karan Casey

UPDATE: Karan Casey has canceled her performance, but the show will go on with noted Irish singer Susan McKeown. Go here for more details.

Think of it in terms of imports and exports. Music is a transferable commodity in the global market. Just as a sweater is neatly packaged and shipped from Indonesia, so too is a song recorded and pressed for international travel.

But you don’t buy a sweater from Indonesia because of the authentic hemlines. You buy it because it’s cheap. Music is a bit more personal. It speaks. It gives voice, mannerisms and language to its creator.

Music imports culture, and for that reason it can be a hard sell. But Karan Casey seems to have received a tax break.

“It’s quite unusual for traditional singers to make a living out of traditional music,” Casey says. “Very few people in the world make a living the way I do … only a handful of people, really, and we’re a small, odd breed.”

The traditional Irish singer has found success crooning her country’s lullabies and folk songs. Some 20 years and five solo albums later, her grief-ridden, hauntingly lovely Irish melodies are still making international audiences swoon.

It’s not just the accent that makes us Yankees swoon, but it does help. Her voice drips sweet and thick like honey. It gently quivers and dips as though on the wing of a bird, as she sings about her people’s immigration, politics and wars. These aren’t your average parlor songs. They’re living history.

“Traditional Irish singing can be very intense. It’s very caught up in the merit, which can make it hard to listen to,” she says. “Most songs aren’t even in major or minor scales but in different modes, and that can be exotic for some people.”

She learned different stylistic patterns and what she calls “traditional vocal ornamentation” at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. She’s studied everything from concert piano to vocal studies in classical music, folk and jazz.

Her music may be steeped in Irish heritage, but the listeners are foreign.

“I think there is more respect for the music probably in America,” Casey says. “The faraway hills are greener. American audiences in particular have been nursed and nurtured in their folk music — they have acquired a taste for it.”

Of course, Irish listeners don’t have the same difficulty in finding the music.

“At home, it’s difficult to get an audience,” she says, “because anyone can go into a local pub and hear it.”

Karan Casey plays with John Doyle at The Bing on Saturday, Sept. 18, at 7:30 pm. Tickets: $20-24. All-ages. Call 768-5582

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in Music

  • Do the Math
  • Do the Math

    Minus the Bear has accomplished the tough task of making progressive rock accessible
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • More than Labels
  • More than Labels

    Zakk Wylde's second solo record shows off his softer side, but it's just one part of his persona
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Rage On
  • Rage On

    The newly combined music festival Rage-Apalooza is the Viking's biggest event yet
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Jordy Byrd

  • Halloween City
  • Halloween City

    Marijuana-inspired costumes for stoners
    • Oct 22, 2015
  • Farm to Pipe
  • Farm to Pipe

    Locals Canna House opens in Spokane Valley
    • Oct 1, 2015
  • Social High
  • Social High

    A Spokane company launches a new cannabis-focused social media platform
    • Sep 24, 2015
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Still Celebrating

    Boy George and Culture Club paved the way for genre- and gender-bending rock stars
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Here We Are
  • Here We Are

    Andy Rumsey is finally releasing his first solo album, nearly 15 years in the making
    • Oct 22, 2015
  • Sleater-Kinney 101
  • Sleater-Kinney 101

    Your guide to the most anticipated music reunion of the year
    • Feb 5, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation