Don Stiffe is one of the greatest singer / songwriters to have emerged on the Irish folk scene in recent years, receiving critical acclaim and awards both at home and abroad. Don is a passionate and talented singer whose impressive performance style has moved audiences all over the world.
Don’s version of the Dimming of the Day, by Richard Thompson won ‘Vocal Cut of the Year’ at the Live Ireland 2010 Awards. This song featured on his debut solo album, Start of a Dream, which was originally released in 2006, achieving much critical acclaim. Irish Music Magazine described the musical quality of the album as being “in the Premier League”. The array of talented musicians playing on the album is testament to the respect for Don in the Irish music world, with guest performances from Frankie Gavin, Sharon Shannon, Arty McGlynn, Cathal Hayden and Carol Hession, to name but a few.
In 2011 Don was a finalist in one of Ireland’s most watched TV shows, The All Ireland Talent Show, with live audiences of up to 800,000 people. His profile was raised significantly by taking part in this show and was further raised when he won yet another award at the Live Ireland 2011 Awards, this time for his song, Somebody Special, sung by Matt Keane, which was crowned Song of the Year.
2016 was a very busy year for Don, which saw the release of a new recording called 1916 Classic Irish Ballads to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising. This added to his continued success and saw him touring America and Europe with some of Ireland’s biggest names in folk such as Mary Black, Lunása and Maura O’Connell, delighting audiences everywhere they played. His continued success brought him to guest with Irish American Band, Cherish The Ladies on their summer tour of Ireland and Scotland, and again touring 18 States in the USA on their Christmas Tour, where the bands leader Joanie Madden, introduced Stiffe as “one of the best singers that Ireland has produced in years”.
“Don Stiffe has a voice of rare expression and distinctive timbre that deserves to be heard far and wide” – The Irish Examiner
“When you hear Stiffe sing, you can hear the emotion… Stiffe has it in abundance.” – The Irish American News
Also in 2016, Don released a very important single, You’ll Always be my Mother, which marked a significant part of Don’s personal life journey, that of his search for his birth mother. The song is dedicated to the wonderful woman who brought him up and is an expression of his love for her. He wanted his adoptive mother to know how important she has been in his life and that his search for his birth mother in no way diminished the love he has for her. Don was born in the mother and baby home at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary and through an emotional journey he has united with a number of siblings. Sadly, Don’s birth mother passed away before he got to meet her. This song has struck at the heart chords of a nation grappling with the recent revelations about the infamous mother and baby homes in Ireland and Don’s honest and poignant telling of his own story has endeared him to audiences near and far.
Frank Kilkelly grew up in Castlebar Co. Mayo, and learnt his craft playing guitar in countless local sessions in the mid–seventies, as traditional music was enjoying a revival. In 1986 he moved to London, and while there toured and recorded with many musicians prominent on the English folk circuit, working regularly in Europe and the USA. Amongst others, he worked with accordionist Luke Daniels, harmonica player Brendan Power, singer Maggie Boyle, legendary Scots/Irish band Boys of The Lough, singer and piper Christy O’Leary.
From Ireland, he worked with singer Sean Keane, piano accordionist Alan Kelly, as well some jazz –flavoured acoustic bands while based in London. In 1998, he moved back to Ireland, and since his return, he has worked with Mairtín O’Connor, Cathal Hayden, Sharon Shannon, Finbar Furey, Charlie Lennon, Frankie Gavin’s De Danann, John McSherry, Dermot Byrne and Floriane Blancke, among others.
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