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Black In The High Life Again
After a seven year sabbatical, Mary Black has released what might very well be the finest album of her long and wildly successful career. Imelda May, America and her musical offspring Danny O’Reilly and Róisín Ó are all up for discussion as she shares a jar with Colm O’Hare.
Colm O Hare, 25 Nov 2011
For over twenty-five years, Mary Black has been a household name in this country. She has also been a huge success internationally, regularly touring in America, Australia and across Europe, attracting large, broad-based audiences. The secret of her phenomenal success – apart from a natural, sweet-sounding voice and a likeable personality – is down to an accessible blend of folk, traditional and contemporary influences, while her definitive interpretations of the work of Irish songwriters such as Jimmy McCarthy, Noel Brazil and Mick Hanley have made the likes of ‘Ellis Island’ ‘No Frontiers’ and ‘Past The Point of Rescue’ standards with which she will always be associated.
“I’ve come to a stage in my life now where maybe people see me in a different light,” she ponders, sitting in a busy pub near her Dublin home. “There’s an acceptance from people who might not have rated me very much in the past. Maybe it’s because I’ve been around so long and I’ve done alright and I’m not offensive (laughs). There’s a respect for me now, which is nice. There are a lot of young people, particularly young girls coming to see me in concert. These are people whose parents would have been fans of mine and who were raised with the music. They’re going back to the music they grew up with.”
She looks back over the successes of the last quarter of a century with a mixture of wonderment and disbelief.
“It’s only when you stop and think about it that you realise how amazing and how big it was at times. I mean, when you’re doing a couple of nights in the Royal Albert Hall, or five nights in The Point, or ten nights in the Olympia, you don’t think at the time, ‘wow, this is amazing’. Because you’re juggling so much between home life, albums, tours and promotion, you just keep going. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing,
“I think there was a natural progression,” she adds. “There was a slow, gradual rise and then a long plateau of it being quite good for a few years, starting in the early ’90s – and then it slowly began to dip again.”