A showcase for people who sing beautifully but who have yet to be heard
On Thursday 30th November, 8pm at axis Ballymun, The Secret Singers – featuring Asha Ari, Caitlin Donovan, Farah Elle and Tríona Sings will perform at a one-off concert – these four women will sing songs of traditional Ireland alongside world classics and pop – capturing the musical influence and heritage of each singer.
The Secret SIngers was initiated by Tríona Ní Dhuibhir (Tríona Sings) who is a singer, an arts manager and producer. Through the release of her debut EP in 2021, Tríona experienced first-hand the many challenges faced by new singers and songwriters. She conceived of The Secret Singers as a nurturing space for singers who are brilliant, but who are not yet recognised.
With support from axis during Ní Dhuibir’s artist residency at axis Ballymun, Tríona set about finding her singers.
Through Ní Dhuibir’s networks and those of axis, she connected with women from different communities. The 2023 Secret Singers are; Dublin-born, Ghanaian-Irish singer/songwriter Asha Ari; Manchester-born Irish Traveller singer Caitlin Donovan; Libyan-born Irish singer/songwriter Farah Elle; Mayo-born, Dublin-based singer/songwriter Tríona Sings. Each singer brings her own unique taste and style with the final blend fusing traditional Irish, Libyan, and Moroccan styles with folk, R & B, pop and soul.
Producer, Tríona Ní Dhuibhir said:
“The Secret Singers is in its first of what I hope will be many years of providing support to diverse groups of singers. I see this project progressing and growing year on year. I envisage that it will become an important platform for emerging artists. With support, The Secret Singers can grow, and grow, carefully, steadily and respectfully. The structure and concept can hold singers of varying levels of experience. We welcome those who are already performing regularly alongside those who wish to perform more. The Secret Singers provides value to all singers on the long and continuous journey of emerging as an artist. It provides support where no other supports exist, for many.
In the long term, I would like to engage with singers from many geographic areas, generations, communities and groups. I am specifically interested in breaking socio economic barriers. I am intrigued by the different stories of each person and how they came to where they are at. I am beyond excited with what singers can do together.”
Niamh Ní Chonchubair Director/CEO axis Ballymun said:
‘We’re so passionate about projects like The Secret Singers, identifying folks with different life experiences who can come together to challenge the narrative around who gets platformed and who does not. Tríona’s passion and dedication to her artform and to nurturing the work of others in under-represented groups is so intrinsic to our core values at Axis. We hope this project is the start of many similar iterations going forward’.
Tickets are available at axisballymun.ie
Magic just might happen…together
Rehearsals are fun, supportive and inspiring. Each of these singers is brilliant in her own right, but when four come together – magic happens. The set list is drawn from the group, democratically, with each singer contributing to the selection of music. Singers bring their accompanying instruments and together create an evening of song which transcends generations, languages, boundaries and time. The final performance resonates with sounds of identity, belonging, grief, power, connection and joy.
Is Gaeilgeoir ó dhúchas í Tríona. A native Irish speaker, Tríona is moved to include Irish language song and encourages all singers to embrace our beautiful mother tongue. A chorister for many years in Cantóirí Choir, specialising in choral arrangements of world music, and a graduate of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, Tríona knows that linguistics and national/geographic boundaries are no barrier to singers and musicians. The Secret Singers is a celebration of difference and connection. It is a space where Irish women share the best of who they are.
Asha Ari (Aisling Moore)
Asha Ari is a rising star who was named as Hot For 2023 this year by Hot Press. She has had a busy year so far. She performed in the Irish Embassy in London for St Brigid’s Day in February. She appeared on The Late Late for the Eurosong competition with Niamh Kavanagh. On March 12th she performed at The St Patrick’s Day Festival in London at Trafalgar Square to an audience of 50000. She just finished her mini-Irish tour which included supporting the critically acclaimed brass band Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Her final stop was Forest Fest on July 23rd, where she performed her original tracks with a six piece band. She closed the stage to a full house! Anyone who has seen Asha Ari live has said the same thing – she has great energy and connects with the crowd.
On the 16th of March, Asha Ari released her first track of the year called ‘God’s Hands’ with Aziz Ozouss, which was on the RTÉ Radio 1 Recommends List. Presenters agree her track is fresh, special and a wonderful fusion of Moroccan and Irish music styles. She released her second single of the year, Addicted to your Love, in May which was named as Track of the Week on Today FM. Asha’s music combines elements of Pop, Soul, and R&B to create a uniquely catchy style and relatable songs.
Irish Traveller Caitlin Donovan was born in Manchester and raised in Carlow and Kilkenny. She was steeped in the rich singing tradition of the Traveller Community from a young age. She learned her craft from her great grandmother, Josie Delaney and from her grandmother Bridget Donovan. This cross-generational family of singers, honour great life events of their people – singing together at weddings, christenings and funerals.
A regular performer at Traveller Pride Week, Caitlin has performed at Project Arts Centre, Dublin and in prestigious Kilkenny venues including The Round Tower at St. Canice’s Cathedral, the Butler Gallery and in Castle Park at Kilkenny Castle. Caitlin performed as a busker and was a regular participant in sessions at The World’s End. She is currently a chorister with Lady Desart Choir, a 70-strong SATB choir who sing at venues and festivals nationwide.
Libyan-born Farah El Neihum – also known as Farah Elle, began composing music at the age of 10. Teaching herself to play the piano and writing poetry to coincide with it in her teenage years, led her to study Modern Music at BIMM Dublin University – acquiring a degree in Songwriting and later qualifying in various forms of holistic healing methods in order to explore music as a means of self-expression and personal development.
In 2022, Farah Elle released her debut album FATIMA, named after her mother – marking the culmination of a near decade of work. Weaving traditional Arabic melodies into the tapestry of her music, Farah’s compositions meld her combined North African and Irish heritage to create a sound that is thoroughly contemporary and completely her own. Currently, Farah’s approach to songwriting is ever-changing keeping in flow with the nature of life. Farah continues to create music, collaborating with musicians of all creeds, performing concerts both nationwide and internationally – and has recently taken to hosting podcasts on the side, as a way to share the knowledge she has picked up on her path as an Artist who loves facilitating music & wellness workshops to people of all ages and backgrounds.
Tríona performed her own one woman shows at Dublin Fringe Festival, Bewleys Café Theatre, the Cobalt Café and at The Performance Corporation’s Big House Festival. She played in traditional, folk and choral contexts for many years performing solo numbers with Cantóirí Choir at The Village, Whelans, The Helix and at Dublin Fringe Festival’s Spiegeltent. She sang in the citizens’ chorus of The Suppliant Women which opened Dublin Theatre Festival (2017) at the Gaiety Theatre. Tríona has a first-class honours MA from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.
Tríona began writing her own music in 2013 and has since performed her songs at Darkey Kelly’s, The Brady Sessions, Young Heart’s Run Free (in a line-up with Donal Lunny), at the Workman’s Club, the Back Page and with Mothers Artists Makers (MAM) at Árus an Phiarsaigh for NollagnamBan, The MAM Behind the Mic at Smock Alley Theatre, the Mill Theatre (2023) and at Project Arts Centre with MAM for International Women’s Day. She recently opened The Cottage Festival 2023 in beautiful Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan.
Tríona is a performer at MAM salons where artists share new work in a supportive environment and a contributor to The Songwriting Collective, where singers share new original music. She released her debut EP in 2021 and was delighted to share this selection of songs at First Fortnight’s Cistin. She is currently working on her debut album The Díva and the Doormat – stay tuned!
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