Shannon Heaton

Irish Flute Player & Singer | Composer | Teacher | Podcaster

About Shannon

Deeply rooted in Irish traditional music, Boston-based flute player/singer/composer Shannon Heaton performs with acclaimed duo Matt & Shannon Heaton, as a soloist, and with her After the Morning string quartet.

As a teacher and ambassador of the tradition, Shannon hosts the culture podcast Irish Music Stories. Her free Tune of the Month video series and instructional books caters to students of Irish music; and her compositions for winds, strings, and piano bring Irish music to players outside the tradition. 

Heaton received a 2016 Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council; Live Ireland named her Female Artist of the Year in 2011 and 2010; and Irish American News named her 2009 Female Musician of the Year.

With her combination of vocal grace, instrumental prowess, and warm stagecraft, Shannon brings passion and presence to her onstage projects:

Media Photos and Bios available here

Updated and traditional Irish duo Matt & Shannon Heaton mix flute, accordion, guitar, and bouzouki instrumental work with sweet husband-and-wife harmony singing. Drawing deeply from the Irish tradition and the music they absorbed during their winters in Clare and Galway, the Heatons play masterfully-crafted, well-informed traditional music. They also weave in Thai music Shannon learned as a kid. With innovative repertoire and engaging stage presence, Matt & Shannon Heaton offer shows that satisfy traditional music aficionados and general music fans alike. Learn more at the Duo Site

IRISH MUSIC STORIES LIVE (one-woman multi-media show)
An onstage extension of Shannon’s IMS Podcast, Irish Music Stories Live weaves together flute, voice, and stunning stagecraft with pre-recorded stories, guitar work, dancing feet, and archival sound clips. Equal parts concert and culture show, this multi-media experience digs into universal stories through an Irish music lens. 

“A wonderfully entertaining show. I loved all the glimpses into Irish music history interspersed with the fabulous music!” -Kristen Lee

“Very creative, informative and entertaining. And her playing was masterful and expressive. A very complete one-person show.” -Marty Somberg

“I loved hearing so much flute playing without accompaniment. The blending of live and recording was really fun and interesting. I went home and subscribed to the podcast right away!” -Tom Voiles

“First-rate in its composition and entirely engaging with the mix of story and music. Thanks for the experience.” -Shawn Cayson

AFTER THE MORNING (Flute/voice and strings)
As a skilled arranger, Heaton’s chamber folk project features music for Irish traditional voice, flute and string quartet. Whether appearing with her own Boston-based quartet, or guesting with existing string quartets around the country, Shannon’s “After the Morning” program features lush arrangements of original and traditional tunes and ballads. “A masterful fusion of contemporary sophistication and traditional music appeal.”

Whether teaching private lessons (in person or online), or group lessons for a summer camp, or running an all-levels session, Heaton is a creative, empowering, holistic teacher.

Learn more about her METHOD BOOKS, YouTube Channel, Irish Music Stories podcast, and the Somerville Guided Session on the Instruction Page 

“Irish musician Shannon Heaton knows that a good story told well can entertain, illuminate, even educate.” Sean Smith, Boston Irish Reporter

The Irish Music Stories Podcast explores Irish music communities around the globe, to learn how traditional music shapes communities, identity, and creativity. Host Shannon Heaton takes listeners on a tour of kitchens and pubs, where trad music thrives. Whether you already play Irish fiddle, or you don’t know ANYTHING about traditional music and dance, the interviews and music in each episode go far beyond a few jigs and reels.

When the show launched in February 2016, the Massachusetts Cultural Council called it, “a Valentine’s Day gift to Irish traditional music lovers around the world.”

Tune in to the Podcast to hear how players got their start in traditional music; how the Irish tradition has adapted as musicians have left Ireland; and how it continues to expand beyond ‘just’ tunes, songs, and dance steps. Or see Shannon’s Live IMS show, featuring flute, voice, and storytelling, as well as pre-recorded interviews, guitar soundscapes, dancing feet, and archival sound clips.

“Her pacing is relaxed but brisk and it is complemented by an unobtrusive, strategically implemented acoustic guitar backing that gives the audio a sense of fullness… Shows are enriched not only by Heaton’s gentle sense of humor but by her ability to travel for the story and explore subjects not only in the United States, but in Ireland.” -Daniel Neely, Irish Echo

Dedicated to sharing the essence of “trad” with musicians across genre lines, Shannon’s classical pieces for flute and piano/strings include melodies, breaths, and articulations that an Irish musician might actually play… and that will play to the existing strengths and expressive artistry of classical players: something different for recitals, and a chance for classical players to “go Irish,” even if they are not able to spend 10 years in the field learning tunes on a 19th century wood flute.

Using her deep knowledge and appreciation of classical techniques, colors and repertoire, Shannon builds pieces with strong traditional-style bones. (These aren’t straight up jigs and reels that sound best in the hands of traditional musicians, whose tonal and rhythmic approach cannot be notated–to learn Irish style, try Shannon’s books Oil for the Chain and First 50, or her free Tune of the Month video series.)

As a daughter of two journalists Shannon is naturally impelled to chronicle her thoughts on nesting, being creative, parenting, and traveling with her lifestyle blog, Leap Little Frog. With original posts from Shannon, and occasional guest blogs, readers are treated to road- and family-tested tips every Tuesday.