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Ladies Cherish their Good Fortune

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Thursday January 31, 2019

From The Boston Irish Reporter

These ‘Ladies’ are all about cherishing the golden chalice passed down to them
By: Sean Smith

It certainly did: Madden and her Cherish the Ladies colleagues will come to town this month ‘” they perform Feb. 16 at the City Winery Boston ‘” having just begun the band’s 35th year. The group’s tour comes on the heels of its newest album, ‘Heart of the Home,’ their 17th overall, including the recording that helped serve as Cherish the Ladies’ launch point. It’s also the second with the band’s revamped line-up following the departure of Boston-area fiddler Grainne Murphy, Nollaig Casey (fiddle, viola) having joined Madden and co-founder Mary Coogan (guitar, banjo, mandolin), Mirella Murray (accordion) and Kathleen Boyle (keyboards, vocals); vocalist Kate Purcell ‘” who sings on one track ‘” will be with the group for their Boston appearance.

Cherish the Ladies has been hailed for drawing attention to the contribution of women to Irish music, and ‘” given that some of its past and present members, like Madden, are Americans of Irish ancestry ‘” showcasing the vibrancy of Irish-American music. The list of musicians associated with Cherish the Ladies, whether in the original iteration or the band that followed, is impressive to say the least: Liz Carroll (who’ll also be with the band for the Feb. 16 show), Eileen Ivers, Aoife Clancy, Winifred Horan, Mary Rafferty, Deirdre Connolly, Donna Long, Bridget Fitzgerald, Rose Conway Flanagan, Cathie Ryan, and Heidi Talbot, among others.

But for Madden, Cherish the Ladies’ significance also has a personal, familial dimension. ‘Wherever we may be from, whether the US or Ireland or elsewhere, a lot of us who’ve been in the band are daughters of musicians,’ explains Madden, whose father Joe was an All-Ireland champion accordionist from Galway. ‘So for us, the music is like a golden chalice passed down. Cherish the Ladies is all about being true to the tradition and legacy, not just putting on a tune. We’re strict about our material ‘” if it’s not something passed down, it’s something we went digging for, in old recordings or collections. But we also find new tunes and songs that fit the mold. We’re conscious and respectful of the role we play as tradition-bearers ‘” and we’re proud to do it.’

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