Firstly I'd like to wish all my friends a very happy and healthy 2013. 2012 was a very good year for me, touring Ireland, England, Europe and the US and promoting my new album 'Stories from the Steeples'. I'm very happy with the way the album turned out and delighted it was so well received.
The 24th of October saw the birth of our first grandchild, Bonnie O'Reilly. Needless to say the whole family are delighted with her! We rang in the New Year in Dingle as usual and it was lovely to have all the family there.
I've had quite a few emails from people wondering when and where I'll be performing next and I wanted to let everyone know that I've decided to take a break this year from touring but will however do the odd festival (keep an eye on the website for updates). Thanks to all the people who came out to my concerts or who bought the album this last year - it means a lot.
Music has been so good to me, I've loved touring the world for the last 30 years….I have made so many friends and have countless fond memories from different corners of the globe. So to my fans everywhere I'd like to thank you and let you know that I hope to get back again to all my favourite places in 2014, including Australia and Canada, for one last big tour - 'The Last Call'
Le gach dea-ghuí (with every good wish/prayer),
Mary Black participates in the Song for Lily-Mae initiative. Four year old Lily-Mae Morrison from Claregalway is suffering from Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a rare and extremely aggressive childhood cancer of the nervous system. She is the daughter of professional ballet dancers, Judith Sibley and Leighton Morrison. When she grows up, she wants to be a ballet dancer like her Mummy and Daddy but Neuroblastoma is not playing nicely, it wants to kill her.
We want to create as much noise as possible for Lily-Mae by getting Tiny Dancer to the Christmas Number One spot, thereby raising awareness of the disease and funds to help with Lily-Mae's care and with Neuroblastoma research. To help do this, we have come together as one voice, over 300 of us, drawn, in the most part, from AIMS musical societies from all over the island of Ireland, to sing with a galaxy of Irish stars including...
Paddy Casey, Declan O'Rourke, Gari Deegan, Mary Black, The Reverse, Rob Vickers, Shane O'Reilly (Bipolar Empire), Mal Touhy (The Riptide Movement), Mundy, Matthew Devereux & Shane Wearan (The Pale), John Spillane, Brian Hogan (Kila & Preacher's Son), Mickey Joe Harte, Naymedici, Tom Dunne (Something Happens), Paddy McKenna & Lindsey Hogan (Storyfold), Conor Quinn, Gavin James, Arrow in the Sky, Aoife Scott, Laura Sheeran (Nanu Nanu), Camille O'Sullivan, Richie Hayes, Adela Meally & Ros O'Meara (Adela and the Meanits), Sandra Dolan (Strange Frootz), Monica & Anne Brennan, Lucia Evans, Louise Colohan, Emily Macken, Ashley Tubridy, Alan Greaney, Stephen Macken, Cian McSweeney, Monica Fitzgerald, Brian Flanagan, Frank Naughton, Robb Murphy, Declan & Noel O'Farrell, Schira & Mimi Lane, Megan Walsh, and a very special guest singer, Lily-Mae's father, Leighton Morrison.
We really need your help and support to make this a success; we need you to be Lily-Mae's champion; to help us make all this noise; to make Neuroblastoma a cancer that people don't have to google; to make it so that people know that they need to target their giving to support research into a disease that is incredibly effective at killing those with the most life to lose, our children.
Watch the video of Tiny Dancer by the Song for Lily-Mae initiative on YouTube.
Buy the song on iTunes to support this cause
Thank you for taking the time to read this message.
MOJO magazine four star review in their March 2012 issue.
The award-winning Irish singer's first album of new material in six years. It's all about the songs - each handpicked and worthy of Black's interpretative touch. Material like All The Fine Young Men, an anti-war anthem by the great Eric Bogle, and Marguerite And The Gambler, a song by Cork's Ricky Lynch that takes its inspiration from The Falconer, a painting displayed in a Cork Art gallery. Then there's the totally melodic Wizard Of Oz, one of three compositions donated by young songwriter Danny O'Reilly, that could easily become a standard. Add such guest-assisted goodies as Walking With My Love, which boasts the talents of Finbar Furey, along with Mountains To The Sea (with Imelda May) and Lighthouse Light (with Janis Ian), wrap the whole in a production that appeals both to a commercial audience and one that favours a more traditional approach, and Black has achieved the perfect meld - Fred Dallar MOJO Magazine, March 2012 1 February 2012
Several more reviews of Stories from the Steeples are appearing. Here are links to some of those reviews:
The Whisper of Sweet Things - Warwick McFadyen -The Melbourne Age - The Saturday Age - Album Review - 10 December 2011
Gentleness can be an orphan to these times; its soft voice lost in the gales of modern life. But there’s gales and there’s Gaels.
To the latter, here we have two of the finest in their art. They are two voices of the British Isles, one from Ireland, the other from Scotland; one the long-reigning star in the Irish folk firmament, the other a rising light in the northern sky. One is Mary Black, the other Emily Smith.
In the case of Stories from the Steeples, Black has assembled a strong supporting cast from Down Under for her material. She covers The Night Was Dark and Deep (Paul Kelly, titled in his collection as They Thought I Was Asleep), Mountains to the Sea (Shane Howard and Neil Murray), All the Fine Young Men (Eric Bogle, John Munro) and One True Place (Neil Murray).
As much as Black is such a fine singer able to cross genres, she is also an insightful interpreter. The Night Was Dark and Deep — Kelly’s gem of a vignette of a young boy overhearing a strained conversation between his parents on a long car journey — is coloured with a sensitive empathy. It’s actually a trait of Black’s throughout her long career across traditional, pop, even jazz-inflected tunes: she is able to live the song. Some would call it soul.
To illustrate this masterful blending, Black duets with three wildly different singers: Imelda May, Finbar Furey and Janis Ian. And she brings in the family, recording songs by her son Danny O’Reilly.
Stories from the Steeples finds Black back in the best form of her career. Her voice is as strong and sensitive as ever, neither twee nor diddley-i. It’s a cathedral of sound, subdued and strong.
Stories from the Steeples
Folking.com - by Mike Wilson
This is the first studio recording from Mary Black in six years, and it’s a collection that demonstrates an artist in full command of her bewitching vocal prowess. Throughout an impressive career, Mary has consistently demonstrated impeccable taste in her choice of material, and the evidence presented here suggests that her ear for seeking out songs of utmost grace and beauty is as keen as ever. With a voice that has only gained in depth and resonance over the years, Mary brings her trademark warmth and sincerity, casting light and shade amongst the lyrics to create her own personal space amongst the words of carefully chosen songwriters. Never one to rest on her laurels, we’re gifted songs from familiar friends such as Shane Howard, Eric Bogle and Julie Matthews, alongside burgeoning writing talents, including Danny O’Reilly and Ricky Lynch.
Sharing the stage with a number of guests, Stories From The Steeples contains three duets: the beguiling “Lighthouse Light” features Janis Ian in a perfectly balanced performance that whets the appetite for further exploration of this winsome partnership; the robust, soulful voice of Imelda May joins Mary on an affirmative song of place and belonging, “Mountains To The Sea”; and the playful “Walking With My Love” finds Mary exchanging lines with the legendary Finbar Furey. All three performances are notable for their palpable sense of modesty and mutual admiration.
Two stand-out tracks come from particularly close to home, being written by Mary’s son, Danny O’Reilly. “Faith In Fate” paints a stark contrast between the sheer despair of a broken relationship with a determined hopefulness to move on and patch things up. Managing to be simultaneously bleak and uplifting with its heady infusion of hurt and devoted affection, it’s a song that plays to all the strengths of Mary’s typically emotion-wrought interpretation. Offering a similar cocktail of emotions, “Wizard of Oz” is a mournful reflection on the search for strength and happiness, underpinned by a dreamy string arrangement over which Mary lays her heartwarming vocals.
Fulfilling the role of storyteller, Mary excels in bringing lifelike colour to the characters of “Marguerite And The Gambler,” a Ricky Lynch song that recounts the familiar tale of many a traditional folk ballad, with its gamblers, true love, misguided familial intervention, heartbreak and devastation. Those purchasing the extended version of the album are handsomely rewarded with an exquisite reading of Chris Woods’ “One In A Million,” a story of true love that takes the mundanities of life and turns it in to utter magic, and proving beyond any doubt that Mary remains a song’s best friend.
Paul Kelly’s “They Thought I Was Asleep” benefits from a tender reading, cloaked in Mary’s trademark warmth, depicting the torment of a child inadvertently witnessing from the back seat of a car, the emotional breakdown of his parents’ relationship. Equally devastating, though of more epic proportions, Eric Bogle’s “All the Fine Young Men” is made all the more disarming, thanks to the sheer reverence with which Mary furnishes this stark, anti-war anthem.
With a little less polish than some of her earlier releases, Stories From The Steeples steps forward as an intimate, unpretentious collection, bathed in a soft but radiant glow of effortlessness and wholehearted integrity. Time will tell, but Stories From The Steeples may well prove to be Mary’s best yet.
Hot Press, vol. 35, issue 22 - by Jackie Hayden: Assured Return By Irish Legend
With here first full studio outing in six years, Mary Black is back with an album on which she uncompromisingly showcases some of the most undeservedly unsung songwriters. The Coronas’ Danny O’Reilly, (coincidentally her son), leads the pack, supplying three classy tracks. ‘The Night Is On Our Side’ is very good while, buoyed by Black’s expressive vocal talents, ‘Faith In Fate’ is a true gem.
With the opener, the Dylanesque narrative ‘Marguerite And The Gambler’, Black introduces us to the songsmithing skills of Ricky Lynch: Finbar Furey joins her on the jaunty ‘Walkin’ With My Love’, creating a timeless duet that suggests they should do it again soon. Imelda May joins the fray on the upbeat ‘Mountains To The Sea’, a colourful evocation of the outdoors from Australians Shane Howard and Neil Murray. The indomitable Richie Buckley lays his trademark sax on ‘Faith In Fate’. Black and Janis Ian duet deliciously on the heart-stealing ‘Lighthouse Light’. And the album ends on a wistful note with Black’s Frenchified version of The Hollies’ ‘Fifi The Flea’.
Mary Black instinctively makes a song her own, and her voice here is more expressively fragile than before. The musicianship is impeccable, especially Bill Shanley’s guitar and Pat Crowley’s keyboards, making Stories From The Steeples a very worthy addition to an already impressive catalogue. Mary: back in the Black…
The Irish Times, The Ticket - by Siobhán Long
Stories define Mary Black’s latest collection, and quite a few have Antipodean roots: spare, sometimes parched, and shot through with an intimacy that lures the listener into the beating heart of the song. Danny O’Reilly of The Coronas contributes three of the best tracks, with The Wizard of Oz a standout: a story of heartbreak and tentative renewal celebrating the best of Black’s interpretive skills against a spartan backdrop of piano, cello, violin and double bass. Guest vocalists include Janis Ian, Imelda May and Finbar Furey; their disparate styles at one with Black’s. Paul Kelly’s The Night Was Dark and Deep is neatly reinvented, and Black’s three offspring get a peep-in on O’Reilly’s radio-friendly The Night Is on Our Side. Shades of Mary Chapin Carpenter colour this collection, whose main surprises are found lurking in the songwriting.
On the 21st of October 2011, Mary will be releasing her new album "Stories from the Steeples" on the 3ú Records label in Ireland.
"Stories from the Steeples" will be released in two editions: a regular edition and a special edition.
The regular edition contains eleven new tracks and one bonus track. Three of the songs are duets. "Mountains to the Sea" with Imelda May, "Walking with my Love" with Finbar Furey and "Lighthouse Light" with Janis Ian. The full track list can be found on Mary's website.
The special edition of Stories from the Steeples comes in the form of a book. The CD in the book contains all twelve tracks from the regular edition, but it also contains an additional two bonus tracks: "On A Winter's Afternoon" and "One In A Million".
Both editions contain the lyrics and musicians credits, Mary's notes about the songs and illustrations from Irish artist Deirdre Keohane.
"Stories from the Steeples" will be available in shops in Ireland from the 21st of October and via Mary's website and iTunes. Releases outside of Ireland will follow shortly.
We have just released an app for Mary Black in the Apple app store. This app for Mary Black gives you access to an extensive archive of information about Mary Black right on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch (requires iOS 4.1 or higher).
The app not only contains almost all the information you can find on the website such as news, concert dates, the discography, all songs and lyrics, the library and all official videos, but it also presents it to you in an enhanced manner. For example, it keeps track of which news items and library articles you have already read. It shows you where venues are on a map and it can link the list of songs to the songs in the music library of your device so you have access to all songs from within the app. And those songs that you don't own will have access to a sound clip or iTunes if the song is for sale there.
But the app also contains two Mary Black related games: In "Recognize the Lyrics" you are presented with a sentence of eight words from a randomly chosen song and you have to guess from which song that sentence is. In "Pitch Perfect" a fragment of a Mary Black song is being played but at the incorrect pitch. It is up to you to set the pitch as it ought to be.
The app also contains a Song of the Day feature: each day features one Mary Black song. Everyone around the world using this app will be listening to that same song. A great way to become part of the world-wide Mary Black community and to experience the extensive library of Mary's repertoire throughout the year.
A lot of information found in the app can be shared with your friends via e-mail, sms and/or Twitter (Twitter on iOS 5 and higher only).
If you have a iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch with iOS 4.1 of higher (if not, use iTunes to see if you can upgrade your device to iOS 4.1), you can download the app in the Apple App Store. Please also be so kind to rate the app in the App Store after you have used it for a while.