Interview with Carmel

Watch the interview here.

Reviews SKYLARK – the album

Hot Press

(Colm O'Hare) – March 13th 2013
Classic Torch Songs from Irish Chanteuse

"McCreagh’s voice is mellow and velvety, rather than in-your-face, and she effortlessly performs timeless standards such as ‘The Days of Wine and Roses’, ‘Come Rain or Come Shine’ and ‘Trav’lin’ Light’, along with some slightly less well-known Mercer compositions, including ‘Empty Tables’, ‘This Time the Dream’s on Me’ and ‘Drinking Again’. Beautifully produced with sumptuous arrangements by Fiachra Trench and performances from some of Ireland’s finest musicians, including Keith Donald, Jimmy Smyth and Michael Buckley, Skylark is the perfect late-night album and a fitting salute to one of the songwriting greats."

The Irish Times

(Cormac Larkin) – March 22nd 2013
"Like a consummate actor, Wicklow singer Carmel McCreagh gives every lyric its due, so it’s no surprise she’s chosen the songs of lyricist Johnny Mercer for her second album. Mercer’s sophisticated lyrics adorn some of the greatest “standards” in the American Song Book, and some of the best-known are given a dusting down here: ‘The Days of Wine and Roses’, Come Rain or Come Shine’ and ‘I Thought About You’, not to mention the gorgeous title track. Produced by McCreagh’s partner Fiachra Trench (the arranger behind ‘Fairytale of New York’ and much else) and featuring a roll call of established talents on the Dublin music scene, including guitarist Jimmy Smyth, saxophonists Michael Buckley and Keith Donald, flautist Brian Dunning and drummer Desi Reynolds, Skylark is balm for the ears and a worthy addition to the songbook canon."

The Jazz Rag

(Jim Simpson) – Spring 2013
"Carmel’s intimate and warm approach does justice to an interesting mix of familiar and lesser-known Johnny Mercer songs on her Skylark album."

Reviews NICE GIRL – the album

Sunday Tribune

(Cormac Larkin) – Sunday 17th June 2007
"a consummate singer in a classic style"
Four stars ****

The Irish Times

(Siobhán Long) – Friday 29th June 2007
“a classic”
“Joe Csibi’s hairline bass and Keith Donald’s sax steer the entire collection into that twilight zone where greys outperform the dogmatism of black and white every time”
“this is music for grown ups”
Four stars ****

CD Baby website

“a quality album in every respect... the lesser known standards are wonderfully appealing and the original [songs] possess great melodies and lyrics”

Carmen Bryce chats with Carmel McCreagh
Wicklow News, 04 November 2008

So Carmel, when did you start performing professionally?

I started my professional career quite late in the day — I was 50! My mother didn’t believe in young or old or in-between; there should be no age limit to for doing what you want to do. My husband Fiachra (Trench) has been in show business forever and before I started performing, he was the quiet one earning our bread. I had a lot of other things going on and worked as a counsellor. I had two children when I was in my 30s, which was old in those days! I was like the geriatric at the school gates! So, back then I was happy in my role as mother and delighted to bring up the babies and fit around that. I see life as a series of opportunities and I’m happy to say I’ve seized every one. My degree is in drama and English; I’ve always leaned that way. It was only when I got to a certain age and Fiachra and I were doing a lot of things together, like small parties and events, that he and Keith Donald (Moving Hearts), suggested one day that I do it professionally. My heart went into a bit of a spin, as you can get shot down quite easily. But I went for it, and we’ve gone from strength to strength. I’m loving it!

Has singing on a professional front added to the joy or performing or formalised it some way?

Oh, it’s definitely added to it in a big way. I have lots of fun (and if I stop having fun, I’ll stop performing). If you’ve ever been to any of our gigs you’ll see that. We laugh and cry and sing and dance. It’s a hoot! Our last performance in Greystones Theatre was a thrill and we were rocking it!

Can you define your musical style for me?

I probably lean towards jazz, but I don’t like to limit the definition of my music. I listen to and perform Joni Mitchell, Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, John Lennon, Van Morrison… the list goes on. There’s a need to label things nowadays, like ‘contemporary’ or ‘jazz’ or whatever. To me music is music. I don’t like to stick to the rules and sometimes as a singer I want to break out of my comfort zone; I don’t want to fit into a mould.

Do you have any particular influences?

I love the music of strong, passionate and powerful women such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, and the first South African singer I ever heard, Miriam Makeba. I absolutely adore her. And there’s Aretha, Joni Mitchell, Ricky Lee Jones…

Do you enjoy performing around County Wicklow?

I love it. We moved from London to Delgany 17 years ago. We moved to bring up the babies; we wanted them to grow up here. The county has some fantastic venues like Greystones Theatre and the Mermaid Arts Centre in Bray. Greystones Theatre is a blast [nd the sound is absolutely fantastic.

Y ou work closely with your husband Fiachra Trench. Is it ever difficult to avoid domestic arguments?

We’ve been together 35 years. If I haven’t killed him yet, and vice versa, I think we’ll survive!

Was it important to you to marry someone who shared your love of music?

What was important to me was to be with someone who had that kind of craft, that kind of artistic bent.

Y our husband has worked with a list of amazing legends, such as Van Morrison, Paul McCartney and Phil Lynott. Did he ever regale you with stories of his experiences?

One thing about Fiachra is he never spills the beans. He is very trustworthy and he doesn’t get tied up in the whole fame thing. He gets on amazingly with most artists and would never have considered himself in competition with them. I’ve lucky enough to be able to watch him on stage with great musicians. I love watching him and got such a buzz when I saw him on stage in Hyde Park with The Corrs and the BBC Concert Orchestra, for example.

Is this one of the reasons you fell in love with him, do you think?

That came after the smile across the room!

If you could only perform one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

That’s a very hard one! I could name 50 songs right now. But one song that gives me such a buzz is "Party Doll", written by Mick Jagger. It means so much to me and, when I sing it, I think of my children. It’s about a relationship that’s been there a long time, but has mellowed. It’s an extraordinary song. I’m going to put it on my next album, that’s for sure!