2017 marks the 55th Anniversary of The Chieftains beginning. Since 1962, they have been six-time Grammy Award winners and been highly recognized for reinventing traditional Irish music on a contemporary and International scale. Their ability to transcend musical boundaries to blend tradition with modern music has notably hailed them as one of the most renowned and revered musical groups to this day.
As cultural ambassadors, their performances have been linked with seminal historic events, such as being the first Western musicians to perform on the Great Wall of China, participating in Roger Water’s “The Wall”performance in Berlin in 1990, and being the first ensemble to perform a concert in the Capitol Building in Washington DC. In 2010, their experimental collaborations extended to out of this world, when Paddy Moloney’s whistle and Matt Molloy’s flute travelled with NASA astronaut, Cady Coleman, to the International Space Station.
Although their early following was purely a folk audience, the range and variation of their music and accompanying musicians quickly captured a much broader audience, elevating their status to the likeness of fellow Irish band, U2.
In Ireland they have been involved in many major occasions, such as Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland in 1979 when they performed to an audience of over 1.3 million, and in 2011 as part of the historic visit to Ireland of HRH Queen Elizabeth II. In 2012, marking The Chieftains’ 50th Anniversary, they were awarded the inaugural National Concert Hall Lifetime Achievement Award at a gala event in Philadelphia hosted by The American Ireland Fund “in recognition of their tremendous contribution to the music industry worldwide and the promotion of the best of Irish culture.”
2012 marked the group’s 50th anniversary, and to celebrate this momentous occasion, The Chieftains once again invited friends from all musical styles to collaborate on their latest album, Voice of Ages. Featuring some of modern music’s fastest rising artists (Bon Iver, The Decemberists and Paolo Nutini among them), this album is proof that their music transcends not only stylistic and traditional boundaries, but generational as well.
The Chieftains are never afraid to shock purists and push genre boundaries and the trappings of fame have not altered The Chieftains’ love of, and loyalty to, their roots however- they are as comfortable playing spontaneous Irish sessions as they are headlining a concert at Carnegie Hall. After fifty years of making some of the most beautiful music in the world, The Chieftains’ music remains as fresh and relevant as when they first began.