The Chieftains, an internationally renowned traditional Irish band and the Berea College Folk-Roots Ensemble joined forces in a concert Wednesday, March 9, at the Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) Performing Arts Center in Richmond, Kentucky.
The Dublin, Ireland-based Chieftains were looking for a group to sing at their (EKU) concert as part of their American tour. Elizabeth DiSavino, director of the Berea College Folk-Roots Ensemble, volunteered the group of Berea College students, which includes Jay Callahan, Blake Durham, Adam Hudson, Jonathan Kemp, Joseph Muth, Julie Nelms, Tyler Rosso, Michelle Watson-Jones, Whitney Worthington and Jared Zanet. Using Appalachian music as its touchstone, Berea’s Folk-Roots Ensemble branches into other kinds of traditional and roots-based music.
During the 90-minute concert, Berea’s Folk-Roots Ensemble sang three selections, which were all accompanied by the Chieftains: Never Give All the Heart (featuring the three women singers); Shenandoah; and Anthem, The Long Journey Home. DiSavino said “It was a thrill to get to sing with these titans of Irish music!”
The Chieftains, who formed their band in 1962 in Dublin, have popularized traditional Irish music around the world. Primarily an instrumental group that prominently features uilleann pipes (also known as the national bagpipe of Ireland), they often collaborate with well-known guest artists in their concerts from a wide range of musical styles. Roger Daltrey, James Galway, Art Garfunkel, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones, Madonna, Willie Nelson, Luciano Pavarotti, Earl Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs, Sting and The Rolling Stones have all performed with the Chieftains.
The Chieftains have won many awards, including six Grammys and the honorary title of ‘Ireland’s Musical Ambassadors’ from the Irish Government in 1989. They have performed before worldwide audiences that have included Queen Elizabeth II of Britain and Pope John Paul II in venues as diverse as New York’s Carnegie Hall, the National Concert Hall in Dublin and the Great Wall of China.