Cathy Jordan, singer with Dervish, grew up on a small farm in Scramogue, Co Roscommon. She got her love for traditional singing at an early age, from her father in particular, and sang publicly at all kind of Feiseanna and concerts as a child. In later years she took to performing a wide range of material as a solo performer in the midlands. She joined Sligo band Dervish the summer of 1991 at the age of 19.
“My mother said I was singing before I could talk – and even as a child, I loved entertaining and singing,” Cathy told Joe Jackson of the Sunday Independent in 2007. “Our house in Roscommon, where I was the youngest of seven kids, was always full of music. That’s one reason I always say that although we didn’t have much in the way of money, we were rich in other ways. But it wasn’t just Irish music we listened to. Relatives in America sent us 78s of the Carter family, Hank Williams . . . and I loved all that music.”
She added: “At school I was in musicals like The Wizard of Oz – where I played Dorothy – and I joined the choir and started my own little harmony band, where we’d do Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and Simon and Garfunkel songs.”
Dervish was formed in 1989 by a group of five musicians, Liam Kelly, Shane Mitchell, Martin Mc Ginley, Brian Mc Donagh and Michael Holmes and their music is strongly rooted in the south Sligo tradition. Their innovative and fresh approach to Irish traditional music has made them audience favourites ever since. They say they chose the name Dervish because it related to any group of spiritual people who become enraptured by music
Along with her singing and bodhran playing, Cathy Jordan brings an invaluable stage presence to the band’s live performances, with her song introductions and interactions with the audience. Her voice has been described by one fan as “as smooth as a pint of Guinness on a bed of rose petals.”
In 2009 she teamed up with Rick Epping and Seamie O’Dowd as The Unwanted and relesed the album Music from the Atlantic Fringe. In early 2012 she released a solo album, All the Way Home, combining songs she heard at home as a child and some she has co-written.
Among the family memories included on All the Way Home are The Bold Fenian Men, a favorite of her mother’s, and Eileen McMahon, a haunting song Cathy Jordan associates with her father and on which she is joined here by Scottish star vocalist Eddi Reader. Ould Ballymore is a love song with a twist that Jordan’s sister Marie used to sing. The Banks of the Foyle was a favorite of an uncle, and In Curraghroe and The Lark In The Clear Air are part of family lore as well. Sliabh Gallion Braes, with its tale of hard times and tenant evictions, resonates strongly in the current economic climate. The River Field Waltz and The Jordan Jig are more recent compositions. Cathy Jordan contributed the former and Roger Tallroth wrote the latter for the project.
Rounding out the collection are two songs that provide timely bookends to Cathy Jordan’s life and music. Co-written by Jordan and her friend Brendan Graham, The Road I Go is a song about departures, searching and beginnings. According to the singer, the country-leaning All The Way Home, which she wrote with Enda Cullen and Ian Smith, brings the journey full circle into present time.
See Also: Dervish pull out of Israeli tour
All the Way Home, Cathy Jordan, Blix Street Records, 2012.
Music from the Atlantic Fringe, with Rick Epping and Seamie O’Dowd. 2009.
Traveling Show 2007 WHRL 009
Healing Heart (Compilation )2006 WHRL 008
Spirit Whirling Discs 2004 WHRL 007
Decade Whirling Discs 2001 WHRL006
Midsummer’s Night Whirling Discs 1999 WHRL005
Live in Palma Whirling Discs 1997 WHRL004
At the End of the Day Whirling Discs 1996 WHRL003
Playing with Fire Whirling Discs 1995 WHRL002
Harmony Hill Whirling Discs 1993 WHRL001
The Midsummer¹s Night Session, Whirling Discs 1999 WHRLVC001