Westport blues, jazz and roots artist Joanne Keegan tells Ciara Moynihan about her musical style, influences and more. The singer-songwriter is launching her debut album ‘Moody Woman’ this Thursday, as part of Westival.
When did you first realise that you wanted to be a singer, and when was your first public performance?
To be honest, I wanted to be an actress. My first public performance was playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz in the mid ’80s with Mary Carr’s drama group.
How would you describe your sound/style? Has it changed over time?
Essentially I have a blues voice that can extend to jazz styles. My voice has deepened over time.
Who were your teen idols?
Stockton’s Wing and The Jackson 5 were popular in our house growing up. I loved the rhythm and bass of both groups. I had a bit of a thing for the ’80s band Curiosity Killed The Cat – only because I fancied the lead singer.
Who are your major influences now?
At the moment, old Gospel roots songs are in vogue for me. The Cactus Blossoms are getting a lot of airplay at home.
What is your favourite memory of performing?
All the times I’ve collaborated with big bands over the years. Soulfood, The Clew Bay Pipe Band, The Funktion and Pierpoint Jazz band in Manchester. I love the sense of unity you receive from collaboration.
Do you ever get pre-show nerves? What is your coping strategy?
Always, it’s a necessary element to a good performance. My coping strategy is laughter.
How would you describe your new album, ‘Moody Woman’?
Warm, rootsy, soulful and well … moody!
If you could record with the musician or band of your dreams, who would it be?
Mr Tom Waits, simply because it would most likely be a strange and wonderful experience.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming Mayo performers?
Keep it real and always keep honing your craft through collaboration with other musicians.
There is something of priceless value in this.
What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Westival line-up?
Brass Ensemble. I love the brass family and their music style is right up my street. Also looking forward to Dracula with the live musical score.
Joanne Keegan’s ‘Moody Woman’ will be launched this Thursday, October, 24, at the Westival Club in the Mill Times Hotel at 8.30pm. Admission €15. See westival.ie for more.