traditional singer and storyteller
Irish singer Len Graham offers traditional songs in English from the North of Ireland, with memories from a lifetime of collecting and singing. Len's extensive repertory of songs covers the gamut of themes and human experience as portrayed in the old ballads, local songs, come-all-ye's, lyric folksongs, music hall pieces; songs on politics, murder, love, emigration and more.
MP3: Green Grows the Laurel, from his album "Do Me Justice"
MP3: Over the Mountain, from his album "Do Me Justice"
About Len Graham
Len Graham is one of Ireland's best known traditional singers who has gained an international reputation, not only for his inimitable singing style, but also for the breadth of his knowledge of Irish folk music. Writer Ciarán Carson says "By definition, any traditional singer is obliged to the past, but he assimilates the songs in the hear-and-now, and re-makes them in his own voice, continually. Those who know Len Graham's singing will recognize artistry and the 'spontaneity' of his voice, but there is no spontaneity without recollection. To be here, you must have been there, and Len has, many times."
Len has appeared on at numerous Irish and international folk, literary and storytelling festivals, as well as on radio and television programmes. In 1992 he was awarded the Seán O'Boyle Cultural Traditions Award, in recognition of his work in Ireland as a song collector and singer. In 2002, he was honored as the inaugural recipient of the TG4 (Irish language and culture television channel) National Music Award for Traditional Singer of the Year. His rich recording history spans over thirty years, with more than twenty highly acclaimed albums to his credit.
Over the years, Len has collaborated and worked with numerous musicians, poets and storytellers. In the 1970s he collected songs from some of the great older singers of Ulster who are now sadly gone, including Eddie Butcher and Joe Holmes. His association with the late John Campbell brought storytelling and song to a world audience. Their work together over twenty years made a significant contribution toward creating a deeper cross-community understanding of shared cultural traditions during many years of conflict in the north of Ireland.
Len and his wife Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, who is also a traditional singer, both specialize in the songs of Ulster. Together they recorded an album of children's songs, called "When I was Young." They live in Mullaghbawn, Co. Armagh.
Len ’s songs are known around the world, as he's been the source of songs for such famous performers as Altan, De Dannnan, the Chieftains, Cherish the Ladies and Andy Irvine (among others). His contributions to traditional singing exceed anything he could have expected growing up in rural Antrim.
Incomplete list of recordings:
- Chaste Muses, Bards and Sages in 1971, with Joe Holmes, Free Reed Records, FRR007
- After Dawning, in 1978 with Joe Holmes, Topic, 1979; Ossian 1993
- Wind and Water, Topic, 1977 (solo)
- Do Me Justice, 1983, Claddagh Records CC37CD (Buy from Chivalry Music)
- Ye Lovers All, 1986, Claddagh Records, CC41CD (Buy from Chivalry Music)
- Skylark: 4 albums
- Skylark (1987), Claddagh
- All of It (1989), Claddagh CC49CD, 1993 Green Linnet
- Light and Shade (1992), Claddagh, CC57CD
- Raining Bicycles (1996), Claddagh
- It’s Of My Rambles, 1993, Northern Ireland Arts Council ACNI 003 (Part of Len's large collection of field recordings, published as book and tapes)
- When I was Young (with Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin and Garry O Briain), 1996 Shanachie 78019 (Buy from Chivalry Music)
- For the Sake of Old Decency (with Cathal McConnell), 1993 Sage Arts Records SA22012 (Buy from Chivalry Music)
- Ebb and Flow (w/ John Campbell)
- Two For The Road (w/ John Campbell)
- In Full Flight, 2008