INTERVIEW: We chat to Mary Coughlan ahead of her Jazz Festival gig

Millennium Forum, Saturday 5th May

Irish jazz legend Mary Coughlan will make a welcome return to the city during this year’s City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival.

The annual celebration which attracts more than 60,000 revellers will fill the Derry air with live music from Thursday 3rd until Monday 7th of May, and Mary will take to the Millennium Forum stage right bang in the middle of proceedings on Saturday 5th.

Whether it be folk, blues or jazz, Mary Coughlan has captivated audiences far and wide during her long and illustrious career with numerous critically acclaimed albums and number one hits.

We caught up with Mary this week as she was making the journey home following a two week tour of the UK. “I’m really looking forward to getting to Derry” said Mary. “I’ve only been to the Derry Jazz Festival once before, but it was many years ago when Gay McIntyre used to organise it and he brought me up to do a gig. It must have been about 30 years ago now.”

Her debut album ‘Tired and Emotional’ hit the shelves in 1985 and soon catapulted her to national stardom which quickly turned to international success. 33 years on, Mary still enjoys the buzz of hitting the road and playing venues across the world.

“Oh yes, I definitely still get enjoyment from touring” revealed Mary.”We’ve actually been in the UK for the past two weeks. We starting off in Scotland and finished up with a sell out show at the Liverpool Philharmonic.”

With a very busy diary, the Galway singer won’t have the opportunity to stick around Derry following her own performance. “We’re just up to do the gig and then off to Australia the very next day so I won’t have much time to hang around unfortunately” revealed Mary.

“We go to Australia almost every year and we do jazz gigs in jazz clubs, we’re doing the Melbourne Jazz Lab, Sydney, Perth. We’re all over the place. We’re doing the Christchurch Jazz Festival too in New Zealand and we’ll be pretty much singing to the natives as the crowds are usually 90% Australian and 100% New Zealand.”

Having performed at so many venues and locations throughout her long and successful career, I was interested to find out which stood out most for the singer. “There have been so many” admitted Mary.

“The first time I went to New York and sold out a few nights at The Bottom Line which is a very famous Jazz Club. Sydney Opera house was very nice too.

“I love playing in Dublin though. We played Vicar Street twice in the past year but we enjoy playing everywhere we go really.

“I like performing songs from almost every album when on tour. I generally always do ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ and ‘Ancient Rain’. Those kind of songs have become firm favourites over the years, I love singing those. But we like to mix it up very often too obviously. We had a recent number one too in the Irish Charts called ‘Let It Be Me’, so we like to play that on tour too.”

Mary also revealed what she is currently working on: “I’m working on a show with an Icelandic composer and I have a theatre piece which is being produced called ‘Woman Undone’. It’s not a musical, but a theatre piece set to music. ‘Woman Undone’ was actually a song I did years ago, a song by Tom Moore.

“It will be opening in November in Dublin and then it’ll be travelling to Cork, then Galway and hopefully reaching out to various theatre festivals too.”

You can catch Mary Coughlan at the Millennium Forum on Saturday 5th May, with tickets priced at £21.50 TICKETS. Keep your eyes peeled for her new theatre production ‘Woman Undone’ this November too.

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