Cream of musical crop join Ann Marie for album launch

Ann Marie Horan in studio with musicians Donal Lunny and Garry Ó Briain. Her new album was recorded in Garry’s New Quay studio, and he arranged and produced it.
Ann Marie Horan in studio with musicians Donal Lunny and Garry Ó Briain. Her new album was recorded in Garry’s New Quay studio, and he arranged and produced it.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Those who know her as Frances Ní Bhrádaigh in TG4’s soap Ros na Rún will be aware that actress Ann Marie Horan is blessed with a beautiful speaking voice.  The actress was born in Eyre Square and returned home to Galway a decade ago to join Ros na Rún, after living and working in Dublin since the 1980s, where she was a member of the RTÉ Players and also did some TV and stage acting.

What’s less well known about Ann Marie is that she’s also a gorgeous singer. The release of her debut album, AM I AM, next week will put her singing and song-writing skills in the spotlight, but she points out that none of this would have been possible without the guidance of the album’s producer Garry Ó Briain and the other superb musicians on the album.

Many of them will join her in the Town Hall Theatre next Saturday night for the AM I AM launch – tickets are free but must be pre-booked.

“These 12 songs and a number of others have been in my head for a long time,” she says of AM I AM. “About three or four years ago, I thought I have these for a reason and my job is to get them out in the world.”

But, while she’s an accomplished singer and member of the Ignite Gospel Choir, who also performs as a cantor at various church events, Ann Marie isn’t a musician.

“I had the lyrics and an idea of how I’d like them to sound but I had no expertise on how to take them out of my head,” she says of her songs.

Help was at hand, however, courtesy of producer and multi-instrumentalist Garry Ó Briain. Garry, who has a recording studio in New Quay, Co Clare, was introduced to Ann Marie through their mutual friend, Pádraic Ó Máille – all three share a love of the Burren so that was a good starting point.

The music on AM I AM is a fusion of folk from Irish and other traditions, including Yiddish and Eastern European as well as Bossa Nova, she explains, although she wouldn’t have been able to identify the various genres before collaborating with Garry.

Expressing herself through song is a source of joy to Ann Marie, who feels it connects with something elemental in her nature.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.