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Eileen Ivers

A nine-time All-Ireland fiddle champion and veteran of numerous influential Celtic groups including Cherish the Ladies and the Green Fields of America, American-born fiddler Eileen Ivers helped transform the Irish fiddling tradition from a folk music staple into an internationally acclaimed art. From her work in the 1980s and 90s as session player and collaborator with acts as varied as Hall & Oates, Paula Cole, the Chieftains, Patti Smith, Sting, and Regina Carter to her own innovative solo releases, Ivers has continued to expand traditional music's horizons while deepening her own connection to its roots. Known for albums like 1996's Wild Blue and 1999's Crossing the Bridge, she also appeared as a cast member in Bill Whelan's Riverdance musical and played on major film soundtracks like Gangs of New York. She later fronted the fusion group Immigrant Soul and was a popular guest artist of major orchestras. Ivers later returned to solo music with the 2019 soundtrack to her multimedia program, Beyond the Bog Road. A New York native, Ivers hails from the Woodland Heights section of the Bronx. The roots of her music, however, were inherited from her parents, John and Annie, who emigrated from County Mayo, Ireland. Initially she and her sister Maureen were sent for lessons in Irish dancing, by the age of eight she'd taken up the fiddle instead and studied under the mentorship of County Limerick-born fiddler Martin Mulvihill. After graduating magna cum laude in mathematics at Iona University, Ivers turned her attention to playing the fiddle full-time and immersed herself in the East Coast's Irish roots scene. Performances with influential Irish expat Mick Moloney led her first to join the founding lineup of the all-female Celtic ensemble, Cherish the Ladies, and later led to an invitation to join Moloney's Irish-American supergroup Green Fields of America. In the late '80s, after working briefly with Luka Bloom, Ivers was recruited to join a year-long tour with the Hall & Oates band. The tour introduced her virtuosic playing to stadium-sized audiences around the United States. Returning to New York, Ivers began playing with Irish emigrees John Doyle and Seamus Egan and African-American percussionist Kimitri Dinizulu. She performed in a duo with Dinizulu during weekly Monday night concerts at Paddy Reilly's Bar in Manhattan. Ivers later joined Paddy A Go Go, a band formed by Chris Byrne of Black 47. Although she had recorded a duo album in 1987 with accordionist John Whelan, Ivers made her proper debut as a solo artist with the 1994 album Traditional Irish Music on the Green Linnet label. A year later, when Máire Bhreatnach announced she was leaving the cast of Riverdance, Ivers stepped in and joined as the lead fiddler. Known for frequently playing a blue electric fiddle, her next solo outing took the name Wild Blue. On her 1999 album, Crossing the Bridge, she was joined by Seamus Egan, Steve Gadd, Randy Brecker, and Al di Meola. That same year she played on James Horner's companion piece to the Titanic soundtrack, Back to Titanic. In 2002, she offered another foray into film music with a piece on the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York. The eclectic world music fusion of Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul arrived in 2003, further cementing her reputation as an innovator. Throughout the 2000s, she kept a busy schedule touring and collaborating with various artists and ensembles and released a Christmas album in 2007. She worked with composer Brian Keane on the soundtracks to the PBS documentary Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World and the BBC America drama Copper. In early 2016, Ivers released the soundtrack to her multimedia program Beyond the Bog Road, which tells of the story of the cross-pollination of Irish music and dance with North American traditions. Her next album, 2020's Scatter the Light, went a different route entirely and was comprised largely of original improvisations.
© Timothy Monger /TiVo
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