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2021 American Celtic Radio Awards

It was exciting to have recently announced the 2021 American Celtic Listener Supported Radio Awards which acknowledge the exceptional talents, achievements, integrity, and unwavering determination of musicians whose focus and performance is Celtic Traditional music and that music derived from its roots. Awards are tough choices since as one is chosen, others are not, and there were so many deserving of notice. These awards, now in their fourth year, are based on an expanding group of radio hosts’ choices, their listeners’ requests and feedback, several consulting musicians, and a circle of well based listeners. Some were runaway choices, others were close calls, and all are well deserving and exemplify all that is great in Celtic music.

This year’s ACLSR’s Album of the Year goes to Take A Look Around by One for the Foxes who are Tadhg O’Meachair, Joanna Hyde, and David Curley. All are members, or former members, of bands the likes of Goitse, Slide, Runa, and The Hydes and bring together award winning instrumentals, vocals, inventive compositions, and creative arrangements. Highly requested since it was released in the spring, it is one to celebrate.

Traditional Album of the Year goes to two of the finest instrumentlists out there. Fiddle magician Fergal Scahill and master pianist Ryan Molloy got together and recorded One Day: NovemberWoods, and left our mouths dropping in amazement as we listened to it. Immediately addicting, it is on constant repeat for many of us. It is full of energy, beauty, and inventive arrangements. A must have for Trad lovers, it is special.

Vocal Album of the Year goes to Aoife Scott’s HOMEBIRD, a collection of go to the heart stories which she uses her singing to tell. Whether a tear evoking ballad, a pull yourself up and go on song of hope, or the pump your fist in the air song written by she and Andy Meaney, “Irish Born and Raised,” Aoife pulls you into each song. This album is a must have for sure.

Runa gifted us right at Christmas time with the Holiday Album of the Year, The Tide of Winter. A dozen years in the making, this album will be one of the first we pull out each holiday season. Filled with hymns and carols showcasing Shannon Lambert Ryan’s full vocal range, it is also rich with gifted instrumental arrangements. The Tide of Winter was definitely a gift to all.

The Byrne Brothers, from County Donegal now living in Florida via adventures in much of the United States in a camper, had started to be quite well known and were ready to pop on the scene. That they did, this year taking two awards: Rising Stars of the Year, as well as, Album Cover of the Year for their Living The Dream album released several month ago. Each performance and fest they graced with their music, dancing and fun presence increased their reputation as a talented act you didn’t want to miss. The lads have taken on additional instruments and have been composing much of their new material. Their Living The Dream cover pictorially displays the story of their adventures that their songs and tunes on the album bring to us. A collage of photos, most taken by master photographer, dancer, and box player, Luca Byrne, takes you on their travels with them. If you do not know them, head to their Facebook and web pages and become one of their enlarging fan base. You’ll be quickly hooked!

There were several unique videos this year making for a difficult choice, but one made many of our contributors cry. All said that “Carousel” by James Ring, Lee & Robbie Campion, Ross Hennessy, and Sean Kearney, the band Drops of Green, grabbed their emotions and hearts. Known for their deadly good vocal harmonies and first class instrumentals, they created and produced a video to tell the story of an old man living the heartache of aging and loss that is part of life. It is striking; it evokes feelings, and it is one you should experience.

Single Release of the Year goes to Ciara McCafferty for her stunning tribute to the late great Martin McGuinness, “Where My Heart Will Always Be.” Composed by Paul McGilloway, Ciara’s heartfelt singing on the finale night of the tribute to McGinness has flooded the Peace Foundation with requests for a copy of the touching ballad. They lyrics are moving, but it is Ciara’s delivery that make them evoke deep emotion.

Caroline Keane released her well received and tauted album Shine this spring and it catapulted her music and her gorgeous smile onto the music media outlets and award charts. An ace concertina player, composer, teacher, lecturer, and member of Four Winds, Caroline well represents the talent women bring to Irish, and all music.

Female Vocalist of the Year goes to Éllís Kennedy whose voice takes you on a peaceful ride as you listen. Her singing, whether in English or her native Irish, often tells the stories of those who made their living on the sea, and those who waited at home for them. You can call her singing delicate and elegant, yet is has a strength in its telling of the stories that supports us all as she takes us along on the journey.

Shane Hennessy and his extraodinary fingers have claimed the Male Musician of the Year Award. Spanning many genres, Shane’s musical interests include some stunning arrangements of Traditional tunes. His is a talent which doesn’t come around too often.

Male Vocalist of the Year goes to Pat Broaders, a favorite of every group of the selection members. A master of telling the story through a song, Pat shows us the importance of the lyrics as he pulls us into the song with his emotion and voice. “Pat owns that song” seems to be a comment being heard quite often and with good reason.

Colin Farrell saved many of us from utter despair this year with his brilliant daily tunes which have earned him Composer of the Year. Missing the music so desperately, we knew that each evening, we could count on a newly composed tune or a set, often presented with a slice of humor. Hopefully, some will appear on a soon to be recorded album…

Congratulations and a big thank you for sharing your talents go to all the awardees!

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