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Susan McKeown andThe Chanting House

Susan McKeown
You are right to expect something special from a woman who was the principal singer on Broadway's Peter and Wendy , who leads the acoustic-rock band The Chanting House, who appeared on PBS's "Soul of Christmas" special by Thomas Moore, who has recorded on a number of labels, and whose independently produced debut album won intense critical acclaim. When you hear Susan McKeown perform, her rich and powerful alto rides the crest of the songs she offers the audience, each a gift infused with depth and spirit. The listener is reminded that the human voice has an incredible power to move, and to depict everything from color to emotion.

With an extraordinarily expressive voice, Susan McKeown is a spirit-hungry songwriter--an artist who literally defies categorization. This young Irish woman brings to her own muic both the rich cultural heritage of her native Ireland, and the urban landscape of Manhattan, where she moved seven years ago. With her acoustic-alternative band Chanting House, she provides a melding of Celtic, folk, jazz, rock and world sounds into a moveable feast. This "mesmerizing vocalist" (The Washington Voice) clearly isn't held back by conventions of any kind.

It's fitting that Susan should launch an independent record label, Sheila-na- Gig, for her first album, Bones. Sheila was a powerful Celtic fertility icon, and Susan's use of the name reflects her feminist bent, spiritual inclinations, and Irish roots. The Boston Globe says, "Equal parts folk- flavored songwriter and alternative rock chanteuse, her debut album 'Bones' is arrestingly original." "This is the kind of music that will link Ireland's musical past with its future," adds Time Magazine.

Green Linnet records released the Scottish fiddler Johnny Cunningham's songs from the Mambou Mines theater company production of Peter and Wendy, where McKeown had another opportunity to shine. American Theatre Magazine wrote, "The real standouts in this collection are the vocal pieces, mainly because of Cunningham's secret weapon, the lovely alto of Susan McKeown...McKeown instills a heart-wrenching emotionalism and spirituality into Cunningham, Lorwin and Breuer's lyrics that lifts the proceedings beyond their already impressive heights." The most recent release, however, is her new CD Bushes & Briars.

On Bushes & Briars McKeown has assembled a luminous mosaic of songs from the rich bounty of Celtic traditional music. With a voice of elemental power, beauty and grace, she transmutes ageless tales of love and strife and makes them her own. Joining Susan on the record is a roster of acclaimed Celtic artists including Johnny Cunningham, Andy Irvine, Seamus Egan, and Jerry O'Sullivan. Guest appearances by Skul Sverrisson, Jamshied Sharifi and Samir Chatterjee lend exotic new dimensions to this transcendent collection on Alula Records.