Friday, December 9, 2011

Group puts unique spin on Celtic music

English: Scottish HighlandsImage via Wikipedia
Immigrant's Daughter is a delightful trio that brings a fresh approach to Celtic music. Rather than traveling the well-worn path of their contemporaries, they have gone boldly in a different direction by infusing traditional Celtic sounds with classic American pop, rock 'n' roll and jazz.

The band is made up of three women of British Isles descent who seem more like sisters than friends. Sharon Fogarty, 36, who was born in Ireland, plays the flute; Ann Borden, 53, makes her harp sing; and Nora Garver, 58, captures the imagination with her violin.

And although their music evokes visions of the Scottish Highlands and dreamy ballads, it also reminds listeners of American tunes. For example, "Wexford Carol," (March) and "Wexford Carol," (Lyrical), are both songs from their latest CD "The Winter Moon," (2011). They are the same song performed different ways, Borden said. Although the former is a lively song with a strong rhythmic beat, the later is a slow, meditative piece. Their music combines their classical training with traditional Celtic, pop, rock 'n' roll and jazz. "Truly, a blend of sounds that represent all Americans," Borden said.

Borden and Fogarty graduated from UNC School of the Arts with degrees in music. Garver graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in French and Arabic. Garver was classically trained by private tutors.

They have been together five years.

Q: Is there a story behind your group's name?

A: Borden: My family background is Scottish, Scotch Irish, English and from all over. Our families are from all different places, but we are all now Americans. And if you look at America, everybody is like that. And even if you look at the American Indians, you can still trace them to the Behring Straights or over in Polynesia. The idea of Immigrant's Daughter gives us the ability to take world music and add what we are into it.

A: Garver: And I think we all relate mostly with our British Isles background. I'm three-quarters British Isles, and there are other mixes in there, but our heritage is primarily from the British Isles.

A: Fogarty: Long story short, Immigrant's Daughter gives us the right not to be authentic. We have so many influences.

A: Garver: We don't have to play Irish music exactly like the Irish play it. Our strength is in developing arrangements that are original.

Q: Describe your performances. What can first-time attendees expect?

A: Sharon: Definitely something different. We do not have cookie-cutter performances.

A: Garver: We make sure we perform at least one new piece. We like to do themes: Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's Day.

A: Fogarty: From a Celtic point of view, it's seasonal. That's why (our CD) is called "The Winter Moon." It's the solstice.

A: Borden: (My goal is) to really be able to connect the people who listen to it with their environment. To have an environment using the music to heal in, to feel good about yourself and to have the listener discover who they are from their attraction to whatever we're doing. When you get people who start to discover who they are, the people around them are influenced to discover who they are.

Q: I know you released "Over the Whistle and Through the Strings" in 2009 and "The Winter Moon" this year. Let's talk about "The Winter Moon." What's the CD about?

A: Garver: It's ancient Celtic carols.

A: Fogarty: This CD was my idea. Being Irish in America and listening to Irish music year round, you realize Americans expect to hear it in March. And we're a Celtic group, but we're not just March. The winter CD came about because we wanted to show people what the Celts were doing this time of year. At Christmas time, you hear the same music all the time. And so this CD was meant to give a winter atmosphere at Christmas time.

Q: What's next?

A: Borden: We have a new album coming out.

A: Fogarty: It's called, "Hands Down." And it's all original tunes.

A: Garver: It's a collaborative effort of the three of us in terms of writing the music and arranging it. It's Celtic, but there are some things on there that are not necessarily Celtic. It's a combination of our influences.

A: Fogarty: Nora and I signed up for Kickstarter to help us out with this. We plan to start recording in January, and hopefully by July we'll have it finished, recorded, released and packaged. (Fans can view a video performance of Immigrant's Daughter and contribute to their Kickstarter campaign by visiting

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