Local musician Emma Ní Fhíoruisce, a local of Gaoth Dobhair, renowned for pop covers as gaelige as well as Irish traditional music is a prime example of what Loinneog Lúnasa is all about.
Emma, daughter of proud parents Charlie and Moira Whoriskey recalls that growing up in Gaoth Dobhair music was everywhere. I remember the music classes with Ann Mooney and Dominic Mac Giolla Bhríde at national school, learning all the traditional songs such as Níl sé na lá agus Molly, Emma says…..
“I remember really enjoying the melody and the stories - I really had no idea how much music was going to be a part of my life.
Looking back there was always so much encouragement to keep learning music, it was everywhere, from school to the marching band, and then An Crann Og was formed. Kathleen Joe Jack (the music teacher of An Crann Óg), noticed I had a singing voice, I was none the wiser, I just knew I was petrified of singing in front of people said Emma. Kathleen entered me into Scór, I think I cried through the whole performance I was so scared. From then on Kathleen kept giving me songs to sing and my singing just grew from there, I kept on singing, mostly because of the encouragement I got.
In 2009, I entered 'Comortas Shcleip' – Donal Mac Ruaidhrí of Radio na Gaeltachta gave the me lyrics of Tom Pettys, Free Falling, this was the first cover I recorded. We played it at Shcleip, everyone was on their feet and singing along, Emma remembers thinking,'I must be quite good at this cause they’re all having a great time'.
I then started translating more covers and formed a band with Cormac O Mordha, The iconics, to sing in all the pubs. We covered Fleetwood Mac, Eagle Eyed Cherry and Guns n Roses. Growing up, mum and dad were listening to Rod Stewart, Kenny Rodgers, Rory Gallagher, this really influenced me musically.
Renowned for gaelige covers - Emma just loves how the Irish language works with the songs and to mix arrangements with Irish traditional music and soul. "I know I have something very special with the Irish language".
A final year student in Bristol studying music, Emma is learning about different styles of music like funk and soul music as well as disco and has blown away friends at uni with her Irish rendition of Marvin Gaye's, Heard it through the Grapevine.
“I always sing in Irish, people love it, they ask me is that Indian or Egyptian music what is that, nothing makes me prouder than to say this is Gaelige, my native language. That’s something that has really resonated with me and has inspired me to start writing my own songs. When I started uni, I couldn’t wait to leave home and see another country, but its then when you really appreciate home. For me Gaoth Dobhair is a very special place, the music, the heritage, the people, and our local artists such as Clannad and Altan - the opportunities to progress musically here are incredible!”
This talented young artist has also supported Paul Brady and folk legend Edie Reader, is also a regular at the infamous Caberet Craicailte and Club Beo – “As an aspiring artist, being able to perform at these events is a massive support, I’ve been able to fully overcome my fear of singing in front of an audience. I can hear the difference in my voice I’m no longer afraid to sing my heart out, I love that.
Both Mairead Ní Mhaonigh and sister Ann, who have both watched Emma develop as a musician and artist andssay that her talent to mix modern music with the Irish traditional style and language is so natural, she makes it sound so original.
Once a student of Loinneog Lúnasa’s renowned musical workshops Emma is on the line up supporting her musical idols, The Unwanted and New Road, it’s surreal she tells us, “I’m really looking forward to it”.
The experience of living away from home has inspired Emma to start writing her own songs that she’s going to perform for the first time at Loinneog Lúnasa – Ionad Cois Locha August 8th. Inspired by living away and the feeling you get when you’re coming home, is aptly called “Ar ais go Gaoth Dobhair”. We can't wait! You can find lots of Emma’s tracks on Soundcloud and Youtube.