She has a name nearly impossible to spell in her native Gaelic tongue, but she has voice you can never forget.

Moya Brennan’s mystically clear pitch beckons you in the movie “The Last of the Mohicans.” Her ethereal voice waits for you in the theme from British miniseries “Harry’s Game.” She has added grace to the performances of The Chieftains, Robert Plant, Shane MacGowan and Bono.

Dubbed “The First Lady of Celtic Music,” Brennan will perform next week at the Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center in South Carthage near Dixfield for a one-night concert as she embarks on her “An Irish Christmas” tour of the U.S.

“It’s funny — when I was a kid, I wished I had a big rock and roll voice,” said Brennan from her home in Ireland. “When you realize your own timbre, it’s the most important thing about singing.”

Brennan, born Márie Ni Bhraonáin and raised in North Ireland where Gaelic is known as Gaeilge and still spoken as a first language, began singing with her family as a child in her father’s pub.

“My father never drank nor smoked in his life, but all he wanted to do was entertain,” said Brennan. “He’s 88 now and the room just stops when he sings. He’s got a magical voice. That’s where it all started, and that’s where I’ll be for Christmas.”

Brennan credits the stage of her father’s pub as the beginning of her family’s 40-year recording and performing career as Clannad. The group received a Grammy in 1999 for best New Age album, and her sister Enya has received multiple Grammy awards for New Age music.

Although Brennan’s solo albums plug into industry genres of New Age, Folk, and World, the oldest of nine children stays close to her Celtic roots. Songs on her recently rereleased CD An Irish Christmas go back centuries and are sung by Brennan in her native language, which is the oldest vernacular in Western Europe.

“When we started off, there was no such thing as New Age,” said Brennan. “And I don’t think our music is really typical of that genre. But with Celtic music, there is a sense of mysticism. I don’t mind what it’s called as long as people like it. I think we have a genre and sound of our own.”

Brennan noted that even when she’s performing her Christmas music, she still likes to take the audience on journey to her homeland of County Donegal in the northernmost part of Ireland. She adds traditional and contemporary songs to her concert repertoire.

“I’ve traveled all over the world, and there aren’t many who understand the language,” said Brennan. “But I think people just like the sound of it. And I’m traveling with excellent musicians including Ireland’s finest harp player.”

Brennan was referring to Cormac d Barra, who recorded with her on her latest album Affinity released in the U.S. last year. The ensemble includes Feargal Murray on the keyboard and Pat Mangan on the fiddle. Mangan, who hails from Brooklyn was the youngest fiddler to perform with Riverdance. Also joining the touring band is Brennan’s daughter Aisling Jarvis who sings and plays the bodhran (pronounced boran).

Brennan never received voice lessons. She never dreamed that she’d have a career on stage. But she couldn’t imagine her life without music.

“There was a lot of music and love in the house,” said Brennan. “It’s been my whole life.”

What: Moya Brennan concert

When: Wednesday, Dec. 4. Curtain 7 p.m.; pre-show jam session 6 p.m.

Where: Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center, 2 Highland Dr., South Carthage

Tickets: Cash or check at the door. $25 adult; $15 for ages 15 and younger. Concert is by reservation only. Call 562-4445. FMI:

Facebook comments