“This torchy chanteuse leads one of the most badass old-time swing bands you’ll ever hear. One thing that distinguishes her from the legions of come-hither, moldy fig front women is that O’Grady writes her own songs – when she’s at the top of her game, which she generally seems to be, they sound like classics from the 1930s. She brings Bessie Smith into this century with lickety-split swing.”
- New York Music Daily
Tara O’Grady’s soulful voice has been compared to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin and Patsy Cline. This New York native with Irish roots combines celtic, folk, funk, blues, swing and especially jazz in her unique style. Awarded Irish Voice’s Most Influential Woman 2010, the singer-songwriter has four releases, Black Irish (2010), Good Things Come to Those Who Wait (2011), A Celt in the Cotton Club (2013) and Irish Bayou (2015). Her contribution to the Christmas canon can be found on the 2012 album Together for Christmas: A Contemporary Celtic Christmas Collection, along with Cherish the Ladies, The Celtic Tenors and Larry Kirwan of Black 47.
Her 4th album Irish Bayou, a tribute to the Irish in New Orleans, was released March 17, 2015. It features original songs in a gumbo of genres – from zydeco and rockabilly, to folk, funk, swing and blues – plus a modern take on Louis Armstrong’s 1926 song ‘Irish Black Bottom,’ a Charleston version of the tin pan alley classic ‘My Irish Molly O’ and a funky but moving twist on the African-American spiritual ‘Dem Dry Bones.’ Tara was also featured in the best selling book The Irish in New Orleans, by Laura D. Kelley, with images of the singer performing on a float in the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Parade in 2014.
Her recording of the famous song Danny Boy was featured in an award winning BBC documentary film celebrating the song’s 100th anniversary. The film was nominated for best documentary at Ireland’s version of the Oscars in 2014, and starred Tara, Judy Collins, Gabriel Bryne, Rosanne Cash, and Paddy Maloney of The Chieftains.
WATCH CLIP of Danny Boy
Her original songs and unique renditions of Irish standards can be heard on radio stations across America and Europe, from BBC Radio 2 in the UK to WFUV 90.7 in New York, where John Platt chose Tara as one of his three new music discoveries of 2013 that the station is most excited to get turned on to. And her third album, A Celt in the Cotton Club, made the Irish Voice Newspaper’s Best Albums of 2013 list.
Since she flew on to the scene, this songbird has received rave reviews. Hollywood Mega-Star Bruce Willis proclaimed his love of Tara’s voice and band one night in Manhattan when he stormed the stage to sing along with her. Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Kennedy expressed at his tribute that Tara’s performance of ‘Minnie the Moocher’ was better than the version in his 1984 film The Cotton Club, co-written with Francis Ford Coppola.
Raised in New York City on Irish traditional music, as well as the sounds of Elvis Presley, Glenn Miller, Hank Williams, Louis Prima, Peggy Lee, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Nina Simone, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra, Tara spent every summer on her grandparents’ farm in Donegal, Ireland where she listened to her granny Nora singing in her kitchen.
She is a sought after artist and has performed in New York at Birdland, Smalls Jazz Club, Lincoln Center, Rockwood Music Hall, Swing 46 Jazz & Supper Club, and holds court weekly at the Refinery Hotel and NYLO Hotel in Manhattan. Her band has toured the globe from Ireland to Austin to New Orleans, as well as music festivals including the An Ri Ra Irish Music Festival in Butte, Montana, the Hooley on the Hudson Irish Music Festival in New York and the Craic Fest, Manhattan’s Irish film festival.
She is currently writing an inspirational memoir about her Chevrolet sponsored cross-country road trip she took to replicate her Irish-born grandmother’s 1957 journey from the South Bronx to Seattle in a Chevy Bel Air, and was featured as a cover girl on Automotive News’ commemorative edition of Chevrolet’s 100th anniversary, November, 2011.
(Photos: Richard Velasco)