Over the past fourteen years, the name of a time honored Irish traditional jig has become equally well known as the name for one of the most engaging ensembles in Irish music; Cherish the Ladies. They have grown from a one-time concert concept to an Irish traditional music sensation, literally the most successful and sought-after Irish-American group in Celtic music history. Organized by folklorist/musician Mick Moloney and sponsored by the Ethnic Folk Arts Center and the National Endowment for the Arts, they began as a concert series featuring the brightest lights in Irish traditional music. Though initially the group won recognition as the first and only all-women traditional Irish band, they soon established themselves as musicians and performers without peer and have won many thousands of listeners and fans of their music. With their unique spectacular blend of virtuosi instrumental talents, beautiful vocals, captivating arrangements and stunning step dancing, this powerhouse group combines all the facets of Irish traditional culture and puts it forth in an immensely humorous and entertaining package. The past years have seen the group traveling all over North and South America, the United Kingdom and Europe performing in the finest concert halls and international festivals. They have been named Entertainment Group of the Year by the Irish Voice Newspaper and received the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall's International Group of the Year Award at the Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland. They have shared the stage with such noted entertainers as James Taylor, Joan Baez, Emmy Lou Harris, The Clancy Brothers, Tommy Makem, The Chieftains and dozens of symphony orchestras. The "Celtic Album", their collaboration with the Boston Pops Symphony led to a 1999 Grammy nomination. They have recorded seven highly acclaimed albums and have appeared on CBS This Morning, Good Morning America, Evening at Pops, C-Span, PBS and National Public Radio in the United States and on BBC and RTE radio and television overseas. At the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, they were chosen to represent Irish music and culture at the Official Cultural Olympiad. Their rising star continues to blaze forward with their latest album, "The Girls Won't Leave The Boys Alone", their third major label release on BMG.
JOANIE MADDEN the leader of the group was born and raised in New York. Her mother is from County Clare and her father is from County Galway. She received her musical training early in life by listening to her father Joe, an All-Ireland champion on the accordion, play music around the house. She began taking whistle lessons from Jack Coen, and within five years became the World Champion on both the whistle and the concert flute. In 1984, Joanie became the only American to ever win the Senior All-Ireland Championship on the whistle. She has many awards and citations to her credit including; being the youngest member ever to be inducted into the Irish-American Musicians Hall of Fame, recipient of the Wild Geese Award, voted one of the Top 100 Irish-Americans in the country as well as being named the 1997 Traditional Musician of the Year, all for her contributions to promoting and preserving Irish culture in America. She has performed on over a hundred albums running the gamut from Pete Seeger to Sinead O'Connor, including three Grammy award-winning records. Joanie has three solo albums to her credit; "A Whistle on the Wind", "Song of the Irish Whistle" (recently named the most successful whistle album in history selling over 280,000 copies) and "Song of the Irish Whistle 2".
MARY COOGAN was born in New York and also raised in a musical household. Her mother is from County Roscommon and her father is a first generation Irish-American accordion player. Mary is a self taught guitar, mandolin and banjo player. She began playing at an early age listening to various types of acoustic music and now she is one of the most sought after accompanists in America. Mary was recently featured in Acoustic Guitar Magazine where she was named one of the top four guitarists in Celtic music. She has just finished her first solo recording called, "Christmas". A beautiful CD for the holidays. In addition to her musical talents, she also holds her masters degree in education.
MARY RAFFERTY was born in New Jersey. She was actively encouraged to play Irish music by her father Mike who comes from Ballinakill, County Galway. Mike is an outstanding exponent of the East Galway style of flute playing and he provided an environment that nurtured Mary to learn the music almost by osmosis. She has attained a remarkable level of virtuosity on flute, tin whistle, accordion and concertina placing her in the rare category of Irish musicians who excel on multiple unrelated instruments. Mary and Mike have recorded three albums together; "The Dangerous Reel", "The Old Fireside Music", which features members of their musical family and their latest release "The Road from Ballinakill", with special guests Willie Kelly, Dónal Clancy, Kathleen Glynn, Michael Rafferty & Gerry Conroy. In addition to three recordings with her father, she has just released her first solo recording "Hand-Me-Downs".
DEIRDRE CONNOLLY the singer for the group was born and raised in Queens, New York of Irish parents. Her mother Bridget hails from Connemara in County Galway and her father Mattie is a wonderful singer and All-Ireland champion uilleann piper from County Monaghan. When Deirdre was five years old, her parents began her involvement in Irish culture by simultaneously sending her to study Irish step dancing with teacher Donny Golden and tin whistle lessons with famed music instructor Maureen Glynn. Over the course of the next twelve years, Deirdre rose to championship level in both her music and her dancing. She went on to garnish an All-Ireland Championship medal with the New York All-star's Ceili Band. She also holds a degree in marketing from Fordham University. She has a newly released album, making this her first solo recording called: "A Song In Turn".
DONNA LONG was born in Los Angeles, California. When she was five years old, she began taking piano lessons with her father; a jazz/classical pianist who instilled in Donna a love for music. In 1978, she moved to the Baltimore/Washington, DC area and heard fiddler, Brendan Mulvihill playing Irish music. He inspired her to pick up the fiddle and gave her a solid foundation in style and playing. She then began to accompany him on the piano and now Donna is considered one of the finest pianists playing Irish music. Along with Brendan Mulvihill, they recorded two duet albums together; The Steeplechase and The Morning Dew. Donna has now passed her music on to her son Jesse Smith and helped produce his first solo recording entitled "The Hurricane." She can also be heard as a guest artist on the motion picture soundtrack "Out of Ireland." Last year, the Smithsonian Institution asked Donna to represent Irish Music in the series, "Piano Traditions" celebrating 300 years of the piano.
MARIE REILLY was born and raised in Whitestone, New York. Her mother hails from Ballyduff, Co. Waterford and her father is from Co. Longford. Marie began her musical endeavors on the fiddle and tin whistle under the supervision of her father when she was 8. She was heavily influenced by the legendary Kerry fiddler, Johnny Cronin and studied for many years with the late Maureen Glynn. Marie has performed throughout the United States with Mick Moloney and her brother Martin, a great button accordionist. She has also played in Riverdance. Marie is also a graduate of Fordham Law School and a member of the New York Bar. She is currently working on a CD with her brother Martin.