SHANNON HEATONPress Kits
Boston-based Irish flute player/singer Shannon Heaton presents traditional music masterfully. Her dance tunes and ballad singing are steeped in the tradition (she’s logged time in the Irish music meccas of Clare, Chicago and Boston). She is a warm, entertaining performer and received a 2016 Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She was also named Live Ireland’s Female Artist of the Year in both 2010 and 2011 and IAN’s Female Musician of the Year in 2009.
In performance, Shannon expertly blends new compositions with rare, traditional gems. She is a warm, entertaining performer and excels at making traditional music relevant and accessible to a wide variety of audiences.
Boston-based Irish flute player/singer Shannon Heaton’s chamber folk project nestles stirring traditional melodies in a sublime string quartet bed. Imagine Beethoven meets Diane Reeves in a pub in Galway: a masterful fusion of contemporary sophistication and traditional folk music appeal.
The success of the project relies on both Heaton’s deep roots in the Irish tradition and her command and nuance in arranging for classical ensembles (she earned a Music Performance degree at Northwestern University and has composed and arranged for ensembles around the globe). While she assigns most of the strictly ‘traditional’ moments to her own flute/voice parts, Heaton is also committed to creating string parts that allow classical players to experience the beauty and rhythmic essence of traditional music.
The group had its start when Heaton was invited to premiere a new collaboration for the 2015 Boston Celtic Music Fest. Since then Heaton has crafted full-hearted string accompaniments for a handful of quartets around the world. As with her work with acclaimed husband-and-wife duo Matt & Shannon Heaton, Heaton seamlessly incorporates original music and traditional music—from Ireland, and also from the small town in Thailand where she lived as a young adult. Her new compositions have a timeless spirit, and her arrangements of old ballads have a fresh, modern attitude.
Her newest offering with the string quartet is a series of presentations for younger listeners: a bigger school presentation to teach kids about what traditional music is all about; and a highly interactive show in which she explores ways kids can practice and trust creative habits and how they can grow creativity and discipline.
Heaton is a warm, entertaining performer and was named Massachusetts Cultural Council Traditional Arist Fellow in 2016, Live Ireland’s Female Artist of the Year in both 2010 and 2011, IAN’s Female Musician of the Year in 2009. Whether performing in scenic New England, sunny California or rural Thailand, Heaton brings a passion for bridging musical words and bringing traditional music to diverse audiences.
Updated and traditional Irish songs and tunes
masterfully crafted music, husband-and-wife harmonies, instrumental virtuosity
With engaging stage-presence, masterfully-crafted songs, and sweet husband-and-wife harmony singing, Boston-based Matt & Shannon Heaton offer well-travelled Irish music from the heart. Their most recent album, “Tell You in Earnest,” is their fifth duo release and, features “dialogue ballads” (each track is a conversation between two people: just like the Heatons!).
Steeped in sessions in County Clare and brewed in the acoustic music scenes of Chicago & Boston, their music draws deeply from the Irish tradition. But the Heatons also gently incorporate the Thai music Shannon learned in school as a kid and the tight harmony singing and rootsy rhythms of Americana that surrounded them during their three years in bluegrass-haven Boulder, Colorado. The Heatons create a fresh amalgam of trad roots and imaginative modern acoustic sounds, still proudly rooted in the Irish tradition.
Shannon (2016 Massachussets Cultural Council Artist Fellow and Live Ireland’s Female Musician of the Year 2010 and 2011) has been compared to Alison Krauss and Altan’s Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh for her combination of vocal grace and instrumental prowess (Irish flute, button accordion). She is also an acclaimed arranger and composer, creating music for both trad players and classical musicians. Matt combines a formal background in classical guitar with a restless imagination to provide a colorful, rhythmic foundation on both guitar and bouzouki. His playing has been called “a combination of Bill Frisell and Richard Thompson,” for his creative chording and driving grooves. He is a multiple Massachussetts Cultural Council Grant winner, plays with a surf-rock band on the side and plays his own brand of Toddlerbilly Singalongs for little kids on the side of that (featured on his acclaimed CD of music for children).
Since their move to Boston in 2001, the Heatons have become an integral part of Boston’s vibrant Irish music and neo-Celtic Acoustic scenes. Shannon is co-founder of the Boston Celtic Music Fest. And both Heatons have taught for the Boston branch of the Comhaltas music school for years.
Matt and Shannon are poised, passionate performers with Irish-American roots and universal appeal. They are comfortable onstage and have a warm connection with their audiences. They move audiences with their love of traditional music (and each other), and their sense of adventure and fun in exploring new directions and possibilities.
Heralded as one of North America’s finest traditional musicians (Massachusetts Cultural Council Traditional Arts Fellow 2016; Live Ireland 2010 Female Artist of the Year; IAN 2009 Female Musician of the Year), she is deeply involved with her local Boston trad music activities (she co-founded Boston’s Celtic Music Fest and taught for Boston’s Comhaltas for years).
Heaton is a wildly creative teacher, and has published two flute/fiddle method books for Irish musicians. Her latest, “First 50,” is a collection of notated tunes with accompanying recordings. The book includes breathing marks for flute players and bowing for fiddle players, showing musicians how to play with minimal ornamentation and maximum rhythmic stability. She regularly posts free audio tracks, in addition to her long-running “Tune of the Month” video/podcast series for Irish traditional musicians.
A prolific composer and arranger of Irish music, Boston-based Shannon Heaton is dedicated to sharing the essence of traditional music across genre lines. She was voted “Female Musician of the Year” by Live Ireland two years in a row and her composition “Blue Dress,” won first prize in the 2011 Mid Atlantic Song Contest. Her music has been recorded by numerous artists including the Battlefield Band, Ailie Robertson, Tricolor, Childsplay. SingOut magazine called her lyrical writing “richly orchestrated…an almost fugal multiplicity of voices.”
In addition to her Irish music credentials, Heaton also holds a Flute Performance degree from Northwestern University and Diploma di Merito from the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy. Expanding her musical palate further, her studies of Thai traditional music have led to dynamic music exchanges with universities throughout Thailand on three separate tours for the US State Department.
Heaton is passionate about making Irish music accessible to players and listeners outside the tradition. Her repertoire of full-hearted original pieces for classical winds, strings, voice and piano celebrate the existing strengths and expressive artistry of classical players and singers–traditional-style melodic ideas that play well with classical techniques and colors. It’s a masterful fusion of contemporary sophistication and traditional music appeal, and a chance for classical players to “go Irish” in a way that doesn’t undermine the Irish tradition or the classical players who haven’t spent 20 years learning to play traditional tunes.
The Duluth News Tribune reviewed a performance of her “Blue Dress Suite” for chamber orchestra, calling it “a lovely little swirling tune, starting with the violins and Jann Stein’s harp, before being joined by the flute and oboes, then the rest of the strings. Simple and romantic, this rather sweet tune brought smiles to many of the faces sitting around me.”