Profile: Sharon Shannon

Sharon Shannon is a young accordion player from Co. Clare, Ireland who has had huge success both in her solo career and with A Woman's Heart and the Waterboys.

Growing up in the village of Ruan (near Corofin) she was continually exposed to folk traditional music. Her parents were set dancers and all four of the children played instruments, starting with tin whistles; she started the accordion when she was 11 and also performs on fiddle and melodeon. She played through school and afterwards; her first big recognition was in her teens, when she played Jim Sheridans' production of Brendan Behan's "The Hostage" for the Druid Theatre Company.

She was a founder member of the traditional band Arcady. She left them to play solo, and began to record her first album at a weekend session at Winkles Hotel in Kinvara in May 1989. Some of the top names in Irish music dropped in on the session, including Gerry O' Beirne, Donal Lunny, Adam Clayton of U2, Mary Custy, Eoin O' Neill, her sister Mary, and Steve Wickam and Mike Scott of the Waterboys. Within two weeks she had joined Mike in the Waterboys, and stayed with them for a year and a half until the band broke up. She then toured with Christy Moore for a while before coming back to the album, finishing it off in Dublin's Windmill Lane, with an impressive list of guests: Liam O' Maonlai, Maire Breathnach, Stephen Cooney, Waterboys Anthony Thistlehwaite and Trevor Hutchinson, Tommy Hayes, Philip King and Noel Bridgeman.

The album was a huge success in Ireland, selling over 50,000 copies. Further success came with her participation in A Woman's Heart, a group made up of Sharon, along with Maura O'Connell, Frances and Mary Black, Dolores Keane, and Eleanor McEvoy. The groups album became an all-time hit in Ireland, selling an almost unprecidented 200,000 copies. In 1992, The Late Late Show, Ireland's most popular television show dedicated a full show to her music, with guests from the album and A Woman's Heart. Such theme shows are rare: I think it took the Chieftains 25 years before they had such an accolade!

She has toured heavily in the US and Europe with her own band, consisting of fellow-Waterboy Trevor Hutchinson on Bass, Gerry O' Beirne (Patrick St.) on guitar and one of several fiddle players - Mary Custy, Maire Breathnach and Paul Kelly have all played with her.

In 1995, her follow-up album Out the Gap hit the streets; vivacious as ever, it sees her moving away from the traditional side of things, with a more rocky beat, attributed to production by reggae producer Dennis Bovell.

"Each Little Thing" was released in mid-97, and continued the experimental fusion note, including a much commented upon dance remix.

Quick update

Since this article was written, she has continued to play solo, as well as with her new band the Woodchoppers (with Mary Shannon on mandolin and fiddle, Liz and Yvonne Kane on fiddle, Jim Murray on guitar and Tony Molloy on bass), and with the rocked up Coolfin, fronted by Donal Lunny.

Spellbound was released in 1999, and consists of a good collection of her earlier pieces, and a few new cuts.


1997  Each Little Thing  Green Linnet 		
1995  Out the Gap        Green Linnet 3099      (review)
1991  Sharon Shannon     Solid ROCD 8
                         Philo 1153
1992  A Woman's Heart    DARTECD 158
1990  Room to Roam       Ensign 21768 
logo You can get a good deal on Sharon's albums, along with reviews and sound samples from the online CD store CD Universe.

1992  A Tribute To Sharon Shannon   RTE (90 min)
(no order number available, but can be bought in US from Rego Records, 1-800-

Track Listings:
	A Woman's Heart
Only A Woman's Heart
Wall of Tears
The Island
I Hear You Breathing In
Living In These Troubled Times
After The Ball

	Sharon Shannon
Retour Des Hirondelles / Tunes for a Found Harmonium
Miss Thomsons / The Derry Reel
The Munster Hop
Tickle Her Leg
The Marguerite Suite
Anto's Cajun Cousins
Cornphiopa Corafinne / Skidoo
Marbhna Luimni
Phil Cunningham Set
The Woodchoppers / Le Reel des Voyageurs

Copyright (c) 1994-1997 Ceolas.

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