Karan Casey has long been one of the most innovative, provocative and imitated voices in Irish traditional and folk music. Her career has spanned twenty five years from the early days as a jazz performer in George’s Bistro in Dublin to her heady days in New York with the band Solas to her now established solo career and she has sold over half a million albums.
Karan released her first album with the group Solas, which quickly became the most celebrated Irish band in the U.S., and her four years with the group were pivotal. Since embarking on her solo career Karan has released 6 solo albums, a duo album (with John Doyle), an album for children and numerous contributions to other artists' projects – appearing on more than 50 albums in total. She has toured constantly throughout North America, Europe and Japan, performing solo, with her own band and with many other diverse artists. Recent years have seen Karan appearing with Folk legends James Taylor, Liam Clancy, Peggy Seeger, Mick Moloney and The Dubliners and Imelda May as well as performances with Solas, Lunasa, Tim O’Brien and Capercaillie’s Karen Matheson and collaborations with pianist/composer Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and with Breton guitarist Gilles le Bigot’s "Voix de la Terre". Other ventures have included The Vallely Brothers Big Band and Niall Vallely's “Turas na dTaoiseach/Flight of the Earls” event, which was premiered in Belfast's Grand Opera House and later performed in Louvain, Belgium. She was also involved in Tommy Hayes’s “Apples in Winter” multimedia project. She presented a program on Irish National Television exploring the songs associated with the Irish Labour Movement.
Karan has won awards for “Best Folk Album” and “Best Folk Female” from Irish Music Magazine and been nominated for the BBC Folk Awards and the Danish Grammys and was a key member of Paul Winter’s Grammy-award winning “Celtic Solstice”. She has appeared at festivals in Europe and the US such as WOMAD USA, the Cambridge Folk Festival, Celtic Connections, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Festival Cornouaille, Festival Interceltique Lorient, Milwaukee Irishfest and Merlefest as well as appearing at many prestigious venues including the Kennedy Centre (Washington DC), New York’s Symphony Space, Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, the Hollywood Bowl, Dublin’s National Concert Hall, the Cathedral of St John the Divine, the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and many others. She has made many TV and radio appearances on both sides of the Atlantic and has been a frequent guest on nationally syndicated radio and TV shows such as Garrison Keillor’s ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ and “Mountain Stage”.
In 2009 Karan released her fifth solo album entitled “Ships in the Forest” on the Crow Valley Music label. Produced once again by Donald Shaw, this album focuses largely on the traditional repertoire.
"Exiles Return" a duet album with former Solas band-mate John Doyle was released to widespread critical acclaim in early 2010 and was named in the Top 5 albums of the year by The Irish Echo newspaper. Karan continues to tour with her own band and as a duo with John Doyle. Over the past 2 two years Karan has: performed with Béla Fleck & the Flecktones at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall; appeared on television with Imelda May and legends The Dubliners; toured in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden with the Celtic Super Night featuring Lunasa, Martin Hayes and Máirtín O’Connor; guested with Spanish band Tejedor at the Festival Interceltique Lorient in France; toured Ireland and the US with Buille and toured in the US with John Doyle.
Two More Hours is Karan's sixth solo album and her first entirely self-penned album. Contemporary in tone it takes a much more personal approach to her writing and singing. It features a duet with Irish chart-topper Mick Flannery as well as contributions from Abigail Washburn and Aoife O’Donovan and was produced by Niall Vallely. A departure from the traditional music she has focused on for many years Two More Hours draws on Karan’s life-long love of R&B, Jazz and Blues in creating a vibrant new mix of sounds. Vallely’s string arrangements help meld together a stellar cast of Ireland’s finest musicians from the worlds of Classical, Folk and Rock music including Ken Rice, Kate Ellis, Sean Og Graham, Trevor Hutchinson, Eoghan Regan, Danny Byrt and Caoimhín Vallely.
Karan recently completed a sold-out Music Network tour of Ireland with Maura O’Connell and a tour of the US with Lúnasa as well as performances with A Stór Mo Chroí (featuring John Spillane, Lumiere and Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh). Upcoming performances include concerts in the US with her own band and with Solas as well as two appearances at Boston's Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops Orchestra.
"The most soulful singer to emerge in Irish traditional music in the past decade."
THE GLASGOW HERALD
“Karan Casey's latest solo venture is a thing of rare beauty.”
“….the Irish equivalent of Emmylou Harris.”
”Casey’s voice is among the loveliest in folk music and she’s a wonderful interpreter of both contemporary and traditional material.”
“Setting her clear voice in arrangements that mix traditional and modern instruments, she maintains the taut, quivering ornamentation of old ballad style, singing tales of love, war and murder with a gentle gravity.”
NEW YORK TIMES
“Casey has the unique ability to make every song sound true and impassioned.”
" Vocalist of the rarest quality... "
“If ever any doubt existed about who's the best Irish traditional woman singer today, "Exiles Return" sweeps aside all pretenders. As gloriously evident on this new CD, Karan Casey has no vocal peer.”
1996: Solas – Solas
Her Song: Exotic Voices of Women from Around the World - Various Artists
1997: Songlines - Karan Casey
Sunny Spells & Scattered Showers - Solas
Celtic Tapestry, Vol. 2 Various Artists
Holding up Half the Sky: Womens Voices from Around the World - Various Artists
Voices of Celtic Women: Holding Up Half the Sky – Various Artists
1998: The Words That Remain - Solas
Africans in America - Original Television Soundtrack
Celtic Tides - Various Artists
Greatest Hits - Paul Winter
Legends of Ireland [Rhino] - Various Artists
Winter's Tale [Uptown/Universal] - Various Artists
1999: Celtic Solstice - Paul Winter
Holding up Half the Sky: Voices of Celtic Women Vol.2 - Various Artists
Thousands Are Sailing - Various Artists
2000: Seal Maiden: A Celtic Musical – Karan Casey and Friends
Emerald Aether: Shape Shifting/Reconstructions Of Irish Music – Bill Laswell
Fused - Michael McGoldrick
Fits of Passion - High Spirited Celtic Captured By Starbucks – Various
Ceol Tacsaí – Various
2001: The Winds Begin to Sing - Karan Casey
Celtic Christmas: Silver Anniversary Edition - Various Artists
Evening Comes Early - John Doyle
Two Journeys - Tim O'Brien
Lullaby A Collection – Various
2003: Distant Shore - Karan Casey
Brown Girl in the Ring – Various
2004: Very Best of Celtic Christmas – Various
Other Voices, Songs from a Room 2 - Various
2005: Chasing the Sun - Karan Casey
Lullaby 20th Anniversary Special Edition – Various
20 Great Kid's Songs 20th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition - Various
Folktopia - Various
2006: Reunion: A Decade of Solas [CD/DVD] – Solas
Acoustic Affair Vol. 1 – Various
2007: A Christmas Celtic Sojourn Live [CD/DVD] – Various
Excalibur, Vol. 2 – Alan Simon
Experience Ireland - Various
2008: Ships in the Forest – Karan Casey
Absolutely Irish - Various
2009: Ireland Essential Guide – Various
Rough Guide to Irish Folk - Various
2010: Exile's Return – Karan Casey and John Doyle
Transatlantic Sessions CD and DVD – Various (includes duet with James Taylor)
Highland Sessions DVD – Various
Sweet Slumbers: Soothing Lullabies – Various
World Travels: World Music for Kids - Various
2012: Rough Guide to Celtic Women – Various
Lullabies for Love – Various
Celtic Soul: the Very Best of Irish Music – Various
All in Good Time – Various