Cherish the Ladies
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Cherish the Ladies

Yonkers, New York, United States | SELF

Yonkers, New York, United States | SELF
Band Folk Celtic




"Cherish the Ladies: Irish eyes are smiling at metro-east concert"

BELLEVILLE -- Irish eyes are smiling early on the metro-east this year.

Put away those Mardi Gras beads for a bit. St. Patrick's Day may be two weeks away, but if your spirit has ever been lifted by a lively reel or jig, you simply must be at St. Paul's United Church of Christ Friday night to hear Cherish the Ladies.

This is one of those pots of musical gold at the end of the rainbow that the church's Fine Arts Committee has been working for three years to arrange. Cherish the Ladies is an all-female Irish-American super group that for 25 years has played in leading venues around the world and has shared the stage with stars from Joan Baez and Emmy Lou Harris to the Chieftains and the Clancy Brothers.

The group has served as the springboard for such Irish music luminaries as Eileen Ivers, Cathie Ryan and Liz Knowles. And, to make even the grumpiest leprechaun smile, admission to the group's 7:30 p.m. performance here is by freewill donation. Come early, because the church says it already has received calls from churches and groups throughout the area.

Such a response probably never occurred to Mick Moloney when he conceived the idea in the early 1980s.
While talking with members of the Ethnic Folk Arts Center in New York, Moloney, a noted musician and folklorist, mentioned the burgeoning number of Irish-American women who were performing traditional Irish music in the United States. Yet it was the men who were still stealing the thunder, so the center asked Moloney to organize a series of concerts that would spotlight some of these women.

He soon called the woman who remains at the heart of the group to this day: Joanie Madden. Born in the Bronx to Irish parents, Madden grew up surrounded by the sights and sounds of the Old World culture from across the sea. Her father was an accordion player inducted into the Mid-Atlantic Region Irish Music Hall of Fame. Her mother was an equally talented dancer.

While steeped in the tradition, little Joanie learned by disappointment -- and determination. At first, she tried the fiddle to complement her dad's accordion playing. After six months, she hated it so much that she hid under the bed while her mother told her teacher Joanie was quitting. Joanie's try at the piano was even shorter: five lessons.

But then a friend showed her a tin whistle, and Joanie was enthralled. She told her skeptical father that's what she wanted to play.
"He told me to get lost, that he wasn't wasting one more dime on me and music," she told Chiff and Fipple, an Internet site for tin whistle enthusiasts. "I said, 'Fine! I'll pay for it myself with my baby-sitting money!' "

She did, taking her first lesson from a neighbor at age 13. Just a dozen years later, her father was beaming with pride when his daughter won the gold medal at Ireland's renowned annual music festival -- 25 years to the day after he had won the All-Ireland Championship on the accordion.

The following year, 1984, she became the first American ever to win the Senior All-Ireland Championship on the tin whistle. Almost as soon as she arrived home to celebrate, Moloney was on the phone.

"He asked me if I realized that of all those who had won for America, 95 percent were women," she recalled. "I said no, I didn't -- and what difference did it make anyway? He said he had just got off the phone with the Irish Musicians Society in Philadelphia and that in 1959, there were 2,500 members and not one was a woman!"

So when Moloney suggested concerts featuring Madden and other rising female stars, Joanie was all ears.
"I said, 'Sure. What are you going to call the series? Cherish the Ladies (the title of a well-known Irish jig)?' He said, 'That's fantastic! We'll call it that!'"

The concerts were sellouts, with hundreds turned away. It led to an album that was picked by the Library of Congress as one of the best folk recordings of 1985. The original group was born during a tour in 1987, and the Ethnic Folk Arts Center and National Endowment for the Arts organized one final tour before cutting them loose. Madden took over the booking and management for a 10-year gig that is now in its 24th year and still going strong.

The band's personnel has changed over the years as up-and-coming musicians have found individual stardom. Currently, the group features Madden; Mary Coogan, another founding member from New York, on guitar; All-Ireland accordion champ Mirella Murray, from Connemara, County Galway; Boston-born fiddler Grainne Murphy from Boston; New York vocalist Deirdre Connolly; Glaswegian Kathleen Boyle on piano; fiddler Dan Stacey; and dancers Michael Holland and Ciara Greene.

But while the faces change, the quality never does. Over the years, they have been named Best Musical Group by the BBC, top North American Celtic Group at the Irish Music Awards and Group of the Year by the Irish Voice Newspaper, among many. They've issued 12 albums, including one with the tongue-in-cheek title of "The Girls Won't Leave the Boys Alone," featuring a host of top male performers, and "On Christmas Night," picked as one of the top holiday albums of 2004 by a raft of media.

Joanie has stretched her wings, too, recording the critically acclaimed "Song of the Irish Whistle" Vols. 1&2. She also has continued piling on the honors from being the youngest member ever inducted into the Irish-American Music Hall of Fame to being voted one of the top 100 Irish-Americans for her work in preserving and promoting Irish culture in the United States.
It's easy to see why these ladies deserve to be cherished. - Roger

"Cherish The Ladies' Celtic Christmas program brings high energy holiday spirit"

The group Cherish The Ladies performed a program of holiday songs inflected with Irish charm at the Pollak Theater at Monmouth University on Saturday night. The group's name comes from the title of a traditional Irish jig, and while it is a nod to the all-female makeup of the band, it should also be noted that they blew the audience away without the need to highlight gender.

The group, lead by Joanie Madden on flute and penny-whistle, kicked through several mainstays of the Christmas season like "Deck The Halls" and "The Little Drummer Boy" while weaving in original compositions, as well as a few judiciously-chosen folk classics. Madden is a bold personality as well as a fantastic woodwind player, but she is also a raconteur of sorts, breaking up the songs with light, comedic banter.

Because of Madden's presence, it is easy to glance past the contributions of the rest of the group, but that would be wholly unfair. Guitarist Mary Coogan displayed formidable skill with the finger-picking style, one of the most difficult forms to play as each finger has to carry a string's worth of playing, versus merely strumming out a chord. In many cases, Coogan had the task of not only playing out the melody line, but also holding down a bass line with the guitar's lower-register strings. The result was that, on several occasions, she was able to make her instrument sound like two or three playing in unison.

Mirella Murray and Grainne Murphy (accordion and fiddle, respectively) were often called upon to provide the specific tone of Celtic music and didn't always have the opportunity to break out and show off, but when they had their solo spotlights in the set, both proceeded to impress. A specific highlight of Murphy's was when step-dancers Dan Stacey and Jon Pilatzke took to the stage with their own fiddles, with the three taking on the intertwined sound of a chamber ensemble at times.

Lead vocalist Deidre Connolly, whose voice reminded me somewhat of Natalie Merchant's, also played the penny-whistle as well as the traditional hand-drum, the bodhran. Some of the evening's most memorable moments occurred when she, Madden and pianist Kathleen Boyle sang in perfect three-part harmony, but standing alone, Connolly proved she was adept entertaining all by herself. - Dw. Dunphy,

"Six Ladies Playing"

As someone who's eternally grateful to be "making a living doing what I love," Joanie Madden seems happy to just be at whatever airport or lodging she happens to find herself in, as she dashes hither and yon on a typically busy tour itinerary.

At some point, however, it surely occurred to Madden that Cherish the Ladies had become bigger than the personal happy zones of she and her bandmates in the long-running Celtic musical group — had become, in fact, a family tradition that spanned generations, geographic regions and seasons of the calendar year.

Prominent among those seasons is the Yuletide interlude; a time of year in which the band (the current core of which comprises bandleader Madden on tin whistle and flute, plus Scottish pianist Kathleen Boyle, guitarist Mary Coogan, Belfast-born fiddler Roisin Dillon, and County Galway accordionist Mirella Murray) plays to packed houses of kids, parents and grandparents — with audiences singing along to such Christmas classics as "Silent Night," "O Holy Night" and "Angels We Have Heard On High."

"The Christmas show is my favorite time of the year — the family time, when we treat the concert hall like a big living room," says the champion musician, under whose stewardship the unassuming tin whistle becomes a dynamic centerpiece to a whirl of often raucous sound and motion.

"This all started when a promoter hounded us to go out on the road with a Christmas show — I told them sure, we've got a Christmas show, no problem," recalls Bronx native Madden, who together with fellow New Yorker Coogan marked a quarter century of membership in the band this year."I hung up the phone and told everyone, "OK, now we've gotta get a Christmas show together!' "

That first seasonal tour was a surprise success, as was the 2005 album "On Christmas Night" — a set that was hailed by the New York Times, USA Today and others as among the year's best, and a release that represented another milestone for the internationally lauded band.

"Our record was sold in Costco," says Madden with a laugh. "You know you've made it when you wind up in Costco!" - Tom Chesek,

"Cherish The Ladies Brings Celtic Musical Gift to East Hampton for Christmas"

Irish Step and Celtic melodies arrive in East Hampton on Thursday when Cherish The Ladies presents A Celtic Christmas at Guild Hall. The 10-member all-female group will perform what they're famous for: harmony-drive music and accordion, fiddle, and penny whistle, while the audience sings-along to Christmas carols.

"There's something about traditional Christmas carols that are Celticistic," said Joanie Madden, the group's leader and a Grammy-winner known for her flute and whistle playing. "They blend with our whistles, our flutes, our accordions. Our concerts are a way to build excitement for the holiday. Everyone has a great time."

The group recently released its second Christmas recording, "A Star In The East." The album contains Christmas songs to get the toes tapping. There are jigs, reels, polkas and singalongs with Celtic flavor. "A Star In The East" is the group's seventh recording. Separately, Madden has multiple award-winning records of her own.

Madden's been with Cherish The Ladies since they began 25 years ago. All the members are accomplished musicians, she said. So are the Irish Step dancers who add drama and fun to their concerts.

But it's not just the award-winning that makes Cherish The Ladies special. It's the enormous sense of fun and enjoyment each member brings to their concerts.

"We enjoy what we do—that's probably why we've been around for 25 years," Madden said. "We have a lot of fun. I'm very proud of the band. Every one of them is a virtuous at what they do."

More people have heard Madden play than they realize—she's a soloist in the final "Lord of the Rings" soundtrack.

Cherish The Ladies was formed to celebrate the increase of female musicians in the traditionally-dominated male arena of Irish music, according to their website. The group was a hit and decided to keep going instead of disbanding after the initial concert series run.

Celtic music began as an oral traditional that's passed from generation to generation. The music was not written down and is learned by ear.
The musicians in Cherish The Ladies learned Celtic music the same way. All are from the United States (Madden is from the Bronx). Each had fathers who immigrated and were professional musicians. Each passed the music down to their daughters, who then made it their own through the group.

The sense that the music is familiar makes their concerts enjoyable for everyone. Celtic music's haunting melodies and light-hearted tunes has helped shape bluegrass, country, root music and more, Madden said, "The fact that concerts feels like a party the audience is a part of creates lots of fans, Madden said.
"It truly is music for everybody," she said. - Pat Rogers,

"Cherish this Christmas Show"

The Tarrytown Music Hall is one of few remaining theaters in the U.S. built before 1900 still in operation and the oldest theater in Westchester County in New York. Over thirty years ago the venerable space faced the wrecking ball and a future as a parking lot in Tarrytown but music fans coalesced and saved it from that dreary fate to become one of the busiest venues in the county while reviving the neighborhood it resided in. On Thursday night last, the Tarrytown Music Hall, now 125 years young welcomed another historic institution, CHERISH THE LADIES, an Irish traditional music group coming to the close of their 25th year as a performing troupe as they embarked on their current Christmas show tour.

It was the opening night of the “Celtic Christmas” Tour for Joanie Madden and her girls in CTL and the first of eleven shows that even included a trio in the Deep South (Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas) far from the Northeast where the remainder of the show are scheduled. As noted on these pages before, Christmas time is a huge market now for touring groups and venues where the public warm up to shows with a Christmas theme and music that puts us in the seasonal spirit. And a seasoned pro like Madden knows how to make sure that CTL is one of the groups most in demand and how to keep them on top by delivering an exciting stage show full of chunes, songs, choreography and dancers and always plenty of humor. The near capacity crowd of 800 who filled the upstairs balcony and lower orchestra seats were not disappointed in the quaint theater in the Hudson River town alongside the Tappan Zee Bridge. - Paul Keating, Irish Central

"Cherish The Ladies Celebrate Holidays with New Album and 25th Anniversary"

Nashville, TN -- Following their widely successful Christmas album, "On Christmas Night", heralded by the New York Times as one of the top Christmas albums of the year for 2005, Irish-American traditional super group, Cherish the Ladies, have succeeded in creating another holiday gem with the recording of A Star in the East, a stellar collection of holiday favorites, traditionals and originals, sure to become another favorite with music lovers and critics alike. The group will celebrate the holidays with the new album as they also celebrate their 25th Anniversary.

All the material is cleverly arranged with lush strings and vocal harmonies and features New Yorkers Joanie Madden on flute, whistles and vocals, Mary Coogan on guitar, banjo and mandolin, Belfast native Roisin Dillon on fiddle, Connemara's queen of the piano accordion Mirella Murray, Glasgow pianist and harmony vocalist Kathleen Boyle, along with County Cork singer Michelle Burke, the ladies create the perfect musical backdrop complete with a string quartet for the Christmas season.
Cherish the Ladies perform Christmas classics from the "First Noel" to the Scottish traditional "Christ Child's Lullaby" interspersed with jigs, reels, airs and polkas. The album features band leader Joanie Madden in her singing debut with the Cajun inspired "Rise Up Shepherd and Follow" and new Christmas compositions by Don Stiffe, Robbie O'Connell, Boo Hewerdine, Kathleen Boyle and Joanie Madden. - Bluegrass Music New Network

"Cherish the Ladies blows the cobwebs off traditional Celtic tunes in rousing show at Foy Hall"

So what if their lead singer is from the Bronx, and half the group is from Queens and Boston. Celtic blood runs deep in the all-female band Cherish The Ladies, who gave a rousing show of Irish and Scottish reels, jigs, and ballads at Foy Hall Thursday night as part of Musikfest's Candlelight Concert Series.

The six-member Irish-American band, now celebrating its 25th anniversary, delivered a blend of traditional Celtic music with a wonderful sense of fun and a wide display of virtuosity. Superbly led by the engaging banter and infectious humor of Joanie Madden, who also provided whistles, flute, and vocals, the group blew the cobwebs off of traditional tunes as well as contributed some new ones of their own.
Tunes ranged from lively jigs and reels, in which Madden's pennywhistle virtuosity was in full force, to more soulful ballads, such as Tommy Sand's tearful "There Were Roses," beautifully sung by Deirdre Connolly, the group's newest member. Pianist Kathleen Boyle, from Glasgow, Scotland, contributed a sweet ballad of her own, "Waltzing Down the Aisle."

Even in the saddest tunes, the group managed to combine poignancy with joie de vivre. The Scottish folk song "Colleen Rua" (The Red Haired Girl) began as a passionate guitar solo by Mary Coogan, then became a happy ensemble as the piano and flute joined in.
Adding to the fun was a trio of Irish stepdancers from the New York City area, who leapt onto the stage during the more energetic numbers with amazing displays of flying feet, impossibly high kicks, and legs moving in a high-speed blur.

Also joining the musicians and dancers for a number or two was the multi-talented Canadian fiddler/stepdancer Dan Stacey, who dazzled with his performance of the French-Canadian tune "Bird in the Tree," playing it while seated yet with his feet tapping wildly to the beat.
Since no Celtic concert would be complete without audience participation, Connolly made sure everyone was in the mood to sing the choruses of the classic ballad "Welcome Poor Paddy Home." A final high-energy reel had all dancers onstage in a wild flurry of motion. Even Madden, a Rosie O'Donnell clone if there ever was one, began high-kicking. "It ain't over 'til the fat lady dances," she boomed to the appreciative crowd in the regrettably only half-filled hall. - Steve Siegel, McCall Blog


Tuesday night found the Irish-American group Cherish the Ladies unveiling its "Celtic Christmas" program in Buffalo State College's Rockwell Hall.
Trying to avoid superlatives when reviewing this show has been difficult for most of the media in areas where it has been performed and, as anyone who was present Tuesday night can probably attest, the women of Cherish the Ladies are top-notch musicians and entertainers.

Founding member and tin whistle/flutist extraordinaire Joanie Madden is also quite the raconteur, providing much of the stage commentary. She outlined a bit of the band's history, told jokes with a well-practiced flair and introduced the various members of the group.
Considering her outsized personality, Madden's dynamic whistle playing was all that could be expected, dancing with melodies, cutting through the sound mix with a high-pitched tooting. Her fluid, subtle and superbly nuanced flute playing stood out just by virtue of its contrast with the more overtly acrobatic whistle artistry.

The rest of the players in Cherish the Ladies, while not as overtly showy as their leader, were more than capable of holding their own in her company.

Guitarist Mary Coogan, another founding member, was a solid if somewhat understated musician, while fiddler Roisin Dillon and accordion player Mirella Murray took advantage of their solo spots to showcase their prodigious talents. It should also be noted that pianist Kathleen Boyle, the lone Scot on the stage, was excellent as the rhythmic anchor and occasional soloist.

While the instrumentalists were all quite talented, Heidi Talbot, the lead singer and bodhran (frame drum) player, was a revelation. With a voice that was wispy and delicate but with an undeniable presence, Talbot's artistry was unassumingly beautiful. Her singing, in Irish and English, of "Silent Night" was gorgeous and comfortable at the same time, a rare trick indeed, especially since she was battling a cold.
Step dancers Michael Boyle and Noelle Curran added percussive punch and visual dynamics to the proceedings, coming out from behind the curtains at key moments in the concert to add their abilities to the proceedings.

Most of the material in the concert came from the Cherish the Ladies Christmas album, including "The Castle of Dromor" and "Ding Dong Merrily on High," but "The Jolly Seven" and a few other tunes from their most recent release ("Woman of the House") were welcome additions. concert came from the Cherish the Ladies Christmas album, including "The Castle of Dromor" and "Ding Dong Merrily on High," but "The Jolly Seven" and a few other tunes from their most recent release ("Woman of the House") were welcome additions. - Garaud MacTaggart

"New York Times Quote"

“Expands the annals of Irish music in America...the music is passionate, tender and rambunctious.” - Jon Pareles, The New York Times

"Glasgow Herald Quote"

“The Ladies are first generation Irish-American with pride in their roots, a terrific sense of fun and heaps of music in their fingers and toes. Cherish the Ladies is their name and cherish them this enthusiastic Glasgow audience did.” - Rob Adams, The Glasgow Herald (Scotland)

"Washington Post Quote"

“This collection of women offers an astonishing array of virtuosity...” - J.D. Considine, Washington Post

"Boston Globe Quote"

"They are now among the busiest, best and most popular Irish music groups in the world." - Scott Alarik, The Boston Globe

"Irish Times Quote"

“Cherish the Ladies from the USA, made their connection from the first note, skillfully managing the cheers and tears for every second of a torrential two-hour set. The band brilliantly strutted that very Irish-American sound which simultaneously exudes a tremendous joie de vivre and deep nostalgia.” - Fintan Vallely, The Irish Times (Dublin)

"Dirty Linen Quote"

“They have converged and risen like a great wave to engulf the hearts of audiences from Brooklyn to Belfast and from Boston to Brittany. They are currently in top form, touring the world as a mighty example of the richness of America’s Irish music traditions.” - Steve Winick, Dirty Linen Magazine

"Washington Post Quote"

“The six women who form the Celtic band delivered a thoroughly engaging performance brimming with spirit, precision, wit and soul.” - Mike Joyce, The Washington Post

"The Scotsman Quote"

“While the standard has been remarkably high throughout the festival, few concerts could hope to provide as much satisfaction as this one. Cherish the Ladies received a standing ovation, both for their music and ebullient good humor, and were a hard act to follow.” - Kenny Mathieson, The Scotsman (Scotland)

"Hot Press Quote"

“One of the best nights of music I’ve ever heard...I can’t rave enough about Cherish the Ladies!” - Oliver Sweeney, Hot Press Magazine (Dublin)

"Irish Voice Quote"

“...the group that closed the festival was also the group that stood out instrumentally above all others... Cherish the Ladies proved once again why they are among the best traditional performers we have. Brava! Long may this ensemble continue.” - Earl Hitchner, The Irish Voice

"Village Voice Quote"

“...Only recently have Irish-American women challenged the male-dominated traditional music scene, and proven themselves capable of as much poetry, exuberance, and soul as the tradition requires. An outstanding ensemble...” - Leslie Berman, The Village Voice

"Irish Edition Quote"

“The two-and-a-half hour concert was one of the finest traditional performances I’ve ever attended and ‘the Ladies,’ are the musical equals (some would say betters) of the Chieftains...Cherish the Ladies provided a stellar evening.” - Marybeth Phillips, Irish Edition (Philadelphia)

"Spokane Symphony Quote"

“Cherish the Ladies is the real thing. Their pure love of the music jumped off the stage and into the audiences’ hearts. Through the unique combination of their extraordinary musicianship and dance, Joanie Madden and her band delivered and experience we will never forget!” - Jonathan Martin, The Spokane Symphony

"LA Times Quote"

“... What made this ensemble even more fascinating was the fact that they are America’s first allfemale group in was has always been a male dominated field...Among the highlights: bubbling good humor, infectious enthusiasm and the exuberant step dancing.” - Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times

"Cedar Falls Courier Quote"

“After an evening in their company, it’s easy to understand why critics have a hard time finding enough superlatives to describe this all-female Irish traditional music group. A capacity crowd truly cherished Cherish the Ladies and they succeeded in bringing down the house during the finale… I, for one clapped until my hands hurt!” - Melody Parker, The Cedar Falls Courier

"Irish Music Newsletter Quote"

“Cherish the Ladies is something that we all must be proud of. They can rightly challenge any band coming out of Ireland. I feel they will become the top performing group of the `90’s and the standard bearers into the next century.” - Dan Ryan, The Irish Music Newsletter

"Boston Pops Quote"

“Cherish the Ladies is a wonderful group of entertainers: energetic, fun and innately musical. They are a joy to work with and quickly earned the admiration and affection of audience and orchestra alike.” - Keith Lockhart, Conductor, The Boston Pops

"Cherish the Ladies promises to keep it lively"

Joanie Madden is a clever opportunist.

Eight years ago, a promoter called her and asked if her group, Cherish the Ladies, could embark on a Christmas tour.
Its leader answered in the affirmative.

"Then I asked the group, 'How do you play a Christmas show,' " Madden says while chuckling. "We didn't know what to do."
But they still made the most of their opportunity.

Just two months ago, Cherish the Ladies delivered a rousing Christmas show in Central Jersey.

Now, Christmas is over for the quick-studies, but their tour, which stops tonight at the Sellersville Theater, has just begun.

The group will render its pleasing Celtic folk. It's an exceptional live act, courtesy of its singers' great pipes, accomplished musicianship and energetic step-dancing.

They are the total entertainment package.

"We really enjoy what we do," says Madden. "Each of us has the time of our lives when we take that stage. We love to play the music, but we also like to connect with the crowd."

Few do that better than Madden, who has a gift for storytelling, delivering jokes and ingratiating herself with her audience. She's an old-school charmer flanked by a rock-solid band.

"I'm just fortunate to be in a group with such a gifted group of players," she says. "We all have our job to do. I do mine to the best of my ability and I know I can count on the other members of this band."

Madden, who plays the flute and the tin whistle, will be flanked by guitarist Mary Coogan, vocalist Deirdre Connolly, accordionist Mirella Murray, fiddler Roisin Dillon, vocalist-pianist Kathleen Boyle and four dancers.

"We have some lively entertainment," Madden says. "We always have something happening on stage. It's a pleasure to tour with these dancers. It's quite an event."

Madden has been the force behind the group since it formed a quarter-century ago. The comical Bronx native, who was born to parents who hail from Ireland, performs with a smile on her face and exudes joy throughout the show.

"To me, the whole musical experience is about having fun," she says. "That's what I always have when I go onstage. We just have a blast. Performing and the music is what we've always been about.

"Everyone in this group comes from a musical family, so playing is second nature to us. It's pure joy. We're coming out to spread some joy." - Ed Condran,


A Star in the East
Woman of the House
Across the Waves
On Christmas Night
The Boys Won't Leave the Girls Alone
Threads of Time
At Home



JOANIE MADDEN is the Grammy Award winning whistle and flute player who has been the leader of Cherish the Ladies since its inception. Born in New York of Irish parents, she is the second oldest of seven children raised in a musical household; her mother hails from Miltown Malbay, County Clare and her father Joe, an All-Ireland Champion on the accordion, comes from Portumna in East Galway. Joanie won five gold medals at the All-Ireland World Championships, and made history becoming the first American to win the coveted Senior All-Ireland Championship on the whistle. In addition to her larger than life persona, she is also a gifted composer and many of her compositions are basic session tunes known around the globe and have been recorded by some of Ireland’s leading musicians. She has in constant demand in the studio and has recorded on over 75 albums running the gamut from Pete Seeger to Sinead O’Connor. She has many awards and citations including; the youngest member inducted into both the Irish-American Musicians Hall of Fame and the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Traditional Music Hall of fame, recipient of the Wild Geese Award, chosen twice as one of the Top 100 Irish-Americans in the country and also voted Traditional Musician of the Year all for her contributions to promoting and preserving Irish culture in America. Her extremely successful solo whistle recordings entitled “Song of the Irish Whistle” have sold more than 500,000 albums worldwide, making her the most successful whistle player in history. All these accolades and more are why Dr. Mick Moloney, noted folklorist and scholar, has proclaimed Joanie “The First Lady of Irish Music.”

MARY COOGAN was born in New York and also raised in a musical household. Along with Joanie, she is one of the founding members of Cherish the Ladies and has been with the band for over twenty-five years. Her mother comes from County Roscommon and her father Jim was a first generation Irish-American accordion player. Her father bought her a guitar for Christmas when she was four years old and Mary began the process of teaching herself how to play. She began listening to various types of acoustic music and along the way learned the mandolin, banjo and bouzouki. She has a number of projects that she has been involved in; her duet album she recorded with her father Jim entitled "Passing Time" featuring renditions of tunes both old and new and her first solo recording, "Christmas" have received rave reviews across the board. Mary also holds her masters degree in education, and is named in Who’s Who among American Teachers. This close tie to children pushed her to make a wonderful collection of music for our young fans entitled “The Big Ship Sails. She continues to teach music to children in New York and is a highly sought-after accompanist. Acoustic Guitar Magazine named Mary one of the top four Celtic guitarists in Celtic music.

MIRELLA MURRAY grew up in Claddaghduff, near Clifden, on the coast of Connemara in County Galway. Her father John Joe, a notable sean nós dancer, comes from Inishark Island and had a deep understanding and love for traditional music. Mirella studied the piano accordion from Mary Finn and during that time, she met up with local fiddler Liz Kane. They began to tour and play together as a duet and went on to win the All-Ireland championship duet title, the same year, Mirella won the solo All-Ireland title on the piano accordion. Mirella recorded a duet album with famed fiddler Tola Custy called "Three Sunsets" which was voted one of the top five albums of 2002 by The Irish Times. They were one of the nominee's as 'Best Newcomers' by the Irish Music Magazine in 2003. Outside the realm of performing, Mirella has an incredible flair for teaching, and it is a credit to her musicianship that her pupils have garnished twenty-two All-Ireland Chapmpionship titles. She has accumulated a vast store of tunes from her travels, and musicians such as Sharon Shannon, Lunasa and the Bumblebees credit her as a source for many uncommon melodies. Mirella has been a member of Cherish for the past eight years.

GRAINNE MURPHY was born in Boston, where she began playing Irish music from an early age. Her parents brought her in a baby basket to sessions and céilís as an infant, and they traveled with her to her first All-Ireland Fleadh in Listowel, County Kerry when she was just seven months old. Having received a fiddle at age four, she later began taking weekly lessons with Séamus Connolly, the renowned ten-time All-Ireland champion fiddler from County Clare. Her lessons with Séamus continued for several years, and she went on to win All-Ireland honors of her own. After extensive performing in her teenage years, Gráinne became more focused on academics, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in literature and a juris doctor from Duke University. She then worked as a lawyer at a prominent law firm for two years before packing her bags and moving