Songs of love and longing

Steph Geremia who is best-known as a talented flute player is also a fine singer who is now launching her first vocal album. She’s joined by some of the best in the business for If Tomorrow, which took shape in early 2021, when her partner in life and music was critically ill. She tells JUDY MURPHY about those dark days and brighter times since.

In January 2021, as Steph Geremia was working on the final selection of songs for her new album, her fiancé and fellow musician Alan Kelly, was seriously ill. As Steph recalls those days, more than two years later, it’s clear what a dark time it was.

“I was faced with the emotions of possibly having to say goodbye to the person I thought I’d be spending my life with,” she says. Unsurprisingly, the songs that resonated with Steph that January were ones of “love and longing and loss”.

“At that time, there was a possibility he’d have only six months and when I was going from the longlist to the shortlist, that definitely played a part,” she says of her selection.

Happily, that didn’t happen and although Alan is still dealing with a rare health condition, he is back gigging.

As for Steph’s album, If Tomorrow, it’s a gorgeous collection, beautifully and sensitively performed, and with a stellar line-up of musicians and backing vocalists.

People will have a chance to hear her singing from If Tomorrow this Saturday night, July 29, when she launches the album in Monroe’s Live at 7pm as part of the Galway International Arts Festival. Her band for the gig will include Kris Drever on guitar and backing vocals, Alan Kelly on piano accordion, Aaron Jones on bouzouki, among other instruments, and Jim Higgins on bodhrán and percussion.

Steph is a renowned flute player, with two highly praised instrumental albums under her belt but this is her first vocal collection, something one critic described as “a brave move”.

She laughs and says, “thankfully, he added that it paid off”.

Steph did put one song on her last flute album, 2018’s Up She Flew, and she sings regularly in live performances but this is the fulfilment of a long-held dream.

Her impressive CV includes being a founder member of the Alan Kelly Gang as well as touring internationally with the likes of Eddi Reader, The Chieftains and Lúnasa.

For as long as she can remember, “music was my safe place. It meant everything to me”.

Born in New York into an Irish-Italian family, Steph and her two older brothers learned music in childhood – Irish as well as classical.

Pictured: Best-known as a flute player, Steph plays several instruments including ukulele, which she performs on If Tomorrow.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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