Monday, 18 February 2008
In memory of Tommy Makem 1932-2007
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(Video originally uploaded by "IrishDaragh")
Tommy Makem (November 4, 1932 -- August 1, 2007) was an internationally celebrated folk musician, artist, poet and storyteller from Ireland, most known as a member of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. He played the banjo and tin whistle and sang in a baritone. He was sometimes known as "The Bard of Armagh" (taken from a traditional song of the same name) and "The Godfather of Irish Music".
He was born and raised in Keady, County Armagh. His mother, Sarah Makem, was also a successful folk singer, as well as an important source of traditional Irish music, who was visited and recorded by, among others, Diane Guggenheim Hamilton, Jean Ritchie, Peter Kennedy and Sean O'Boyle. After moving to the United States in 1955, he teamed up with the Clancy Brothers, who were signed to Columbia Records in 1961. The same year, at the Newport Folk Festival, Makem and Joan Baez were named the most promising newcomers on the American folk scene. During the 1960s, the Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem performed sellout concerts at such venues as Carnegie Hall and made television appearances on shows like The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show.
Makem left the group in 1969 to pursue a solo career. In 1975, he and Liam Clancy were both booked to play a folk festival in Cleveland, Ohio, and were persuaded to do a set together. Thereafter they performed as Makem and Clancy, recording several albums together. He once again went solo in 1988.is
< Makem's best-known songs include "Four Green Fields", "Gentle Annie", "Red is the Rose", "The Rambles of Spring", "The Winds Are Singing Freedom", and "Farewell to Carlingford", and "The Bard of Armagh". Makem died following a lengthy battle with lung cancer at his home in Dover, New Hampshire. He continued to record and perform until very close to the end. Paying tribute to him after his death, Liam Clancy said, "he was my brother in every way" His sons Shane, Conor and Rory ("The Makem Brothers") and nephew Tom Sweeney continue the family folk music tradition.
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