A chat with Ireland’s “voice of a Nation,” Sibéal
This March, we were once again delighted to welcome Irish singer Sibéal to Toronto for two performances, along with her father, Odhrán O Casaide, uncles Aongus and Seathrún O Casaide, Michael O’Toole and their tireless manager, Sheila Flanagan of Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT).
With the upcoming release of her album, “Sibéal” on June 7th through Universal Records, appearing on The Late Late Show and recording her debut EP, “Live at Abbey Road Studios,” on March 1st, Sibéal’s recognition in Ireland has grown significantly in the past few years. At only 20 years-old, there is no doubt that Sibéal’s star will continue to rise. We were delighted to chat with her about her singing style, background and upcoming news after her visit to Toronto.
Where in Ireland did you grow up and what was it like?
“I grew up in a Gaeltacht area called Rath Cairn in Co. Meath. A Gaeltacht is an Irish speaking area and there are actually only a handful of them all around the country. Rath Cairn is where I learned my style of singing which is called ‘Sean-nós’ singing. Sean-nós translates directly to ‘old style’ in English and is a rare form of singing that many Irish people don’t know very much about. Rath Cairn was always filled with culture and music in the local pub and it was an amazing place to grow up. I feel so lucky to be able to bring my culture to a wider audience.”
What was it like growing up in a family of talented musicians and singers (the Na Casaidighs)? At what point did you decide that singing was something that you wanted to seriously pursue?
“My dad comes from a very musical family and is one of ten children. He has a band with his brothers and because of that I followed them around the world at a young age, lucky enough to watch them perform on many stages all over the globe. I learned a lot by watching them rehearse, prepare and finally perform on stage. I can’t pinpoint exactly when I decided I wanted to be a singer. My dad was my first singing teacher at three years old and ever since then it has been a very natural part of my life that progressed very organically. I took any opportunity I was given and all of a sudden I was a professional singer!”
What or who are you biggest influences?
“I’ve been influenced by a wide range of music varying between sitting in the kitchen while my mom cooks and blares James Taylor and driving in the car with my dad on the way to school as he listens to Mozart’s requiem. Personally, my current favourite artists are Kacey Musgraves and Ariana Grande.”
What are some of your favourite things about Toronto?
“I LOVE Toronto! I have visited the city three times now and am never disappointed. The modern buildings that tower over the city are very different to what I am used to in Dublin and I’m always stunned by their grandeur. From the top of the CN Tower, looking down at the city, the view is stunning. Some of my favourite spots there are the Canoe restaurant (even though the height terrifies me!), P.J.’s Irish pub, and the Royal York hotel. We stayed in the Royal York hotel on my first trip to Toronto and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.”
What about Ireland Park Foundation interests you?
“What I love about Ireland Park Foundation is the dedication they have for telling the story of Ireland and making the unknown heroes of history known. I have a lot of respect for the people who work with Ireland Park Foundation and have enjoyed getting to know them. It has been a pleasure working with such idealists and I feel very lucky to be a part of their story.”
What are you up to over the next few months?
“Some exciting things are happening in my life right now one of them being my end of semester exams (not!). On a more serious note, my debut EP (Sibéal – Live At Abbey Road) was released earlier this month and I am still processing the compliments and support I’ve been receiving! My album is due to come out on the 7th of June this year and I am both excited and terrified for the release. I will also be travelling this Summer to Australia and Europe. I’m looking forward to taking my music to more cities and hopefully they will all be as warm as Toronto! Other than that I’m looking forward to having time to spend with my friends and family this summer.”
Thank you to Sibéal, Odhrán, Aongus, Seathrún, Michael and Sheila for your incredible music and energy. We look forward to seeing you back in Toronto soon!