Meet Eimear Crehan
Thanks to the combination of her music, voice and ability to connect with the audience, Eimear has been labelled as one of the most entertaining female performers on the Irish music scene. She released her first solo album in late 2018 and the second one in March this year. Before that, Eimear fronted an Irish award-winning band Fox.E and the Good Hands for eight years, with which she released two albums and three Eps. The group was renowned for their powerful vocals, solos, live performances and Funk, Soul, Blues & Hip Hop fusion. She, then, founded a music school and is devoting her time to inspiring and teaching people how to reach and enjoy the singing and performing potential she believes we all have.
You are a life & creativity coach, a community & youth worker. You teach singing in school and specialize in working with stage fright, anxiety and people who think they can’t sing. When you are not writing, recording and touring, you work extensively with choirs, as vocal coach, as musical director on 15 musicals and founded the Speak Up Sing Out Music School. Which one is your favorite thing to do?
I suppose I've got a lot of different types of work all the time. I love working on new projects, meeting new people and using the same skills in different settings. And I love working with people who haven't been involved in the arts or music before, and introducing them to the arts and introducing them to the world of music and especially people who think they don't belong there.
Can you tell me how did you get on the road to success? Did the influence come from home?
We always had piano lessons and we always sang and did instrumental things like play trot and such at home. I didn't do much music when I was a teenager and only kind of got back into it in my 20s with joining choirs and then I started professionally. I've been writing songs and I had entered a song into the Rising Stars competition by Dublin City Soul Festival. They gave us a gig on their live stage at Meeting House Square. And I didn't even have a band. That was the start of The Good Hands. We never played before, that was our first show ever.
The Good Hands are all extremely accomplished musicians. Even though you have a lot of projects now, you still collaborate with the band members?
Yeah, I work with them all the time. But at the time, they were very young. They were only 18, 19 and I was older than them. I knew them from playing music in different places. But yeah, we were all new on the scene back then.
That's a nice start. What journey brought you to the decision to start a school?
I've been working many different places, different choirs and different schools and moving around a lot and it was very busy and chaotic. My dad died suddenly and myself and my sisters decided to go into business together and open the music school. So, we kind of all left our jobs very quickly after he died and we found the premises for the school and opened it on the 12-week anniversary of dad passing away. We just kind of wanted to all come together and it's a family run music school.
What is the most challenging thing in working with stage fright and people who don’t believe they can sing and perform?
I don't find it challenging at all. I love it. I have years of experience with it, because when I did that first public gig, I had extreme stage fright and massive problems with singing in public and was very nervous. After that point I've been writing my own music, but I never played it unless it was at a party or had a few drinks. I really understood stage fright and anxiety. I've found lots of ways of helping people link it all together and make it a much safer space. So, I adore it.
Can you describe what is it like when somebody who doesn’t believe in their voice comes to you for help, anyway. How far can you take them?
Oh, all the way. I have people who are now recording and are regularly singing in choirs or performing solos. People only come if they have a feeling that they have music inside that they want to share. Or they might come because they know that I have this reputation of been able to teach anybody how to sing. It’s not a magic trick. It's just missing information, either physical connection with the voice and technical stuff, or it's about thinking. And I work a lot with thinking. That's my most common finding, that it's usually about what people think, and it's an experience that they have or trauma that they've kept ahold of. It's not actually based on reality. Working on the thoughts and working on the thinking really dissolves all of that. And when we can drop the resistance and feel safer than everybody can sing. So, we can start to make that connection and then we practice. People just get better and usually they get bitten by the bug and they just wanna keep going. I've never met anybody who couldn't learn. And there's very specific exercises for every single vocal problem.
Did you run into any exceptional talents among those people who thought they don't have any?
Yeah, I did a project. I advertised looking for people who had fear of singing or who felt they couldn't sing. They joined this group called Secret Project and they recorded an album. And lots of people from that have gone on to do loads of vocal work and singing in choirs. I find it all the time and especially with teenagers.
You take on all generations from infants to old age, right?
Yes, and that's pretty interesting. You familiar with men's sheds? They're like a community organization. There's lots of them all around Ireland. Retired men or men who are out of work find a derelict property in a town and they turn it into what's called a men’s shed and there's different facilities for them there. They might be gardening or learning about computers or meals or wood work. Wood work is very common. There’s a big men’s shed organization Kilcock and my dad was a founding member of that. He was actually building it when he died. He had a heart attack while he was building it. So, we got very involved with the men’s shed and we made the men’s shed choir, which started off as them just agreeing to sing one song at the end of the concert to help raise money for the shed. And then once they had done that, they fell in love with it and they were bitten by the bug. These men, all in their 60s, 70s and 80s who have never ever sung, they’ve been on tours, they've released album and they've had a number one hit. They've done so much incredible things and they had zero experience with singing. And it's really life changing memories and incredible talent as well with them.
Your mother, she had seven children and she was married for almost 60 years. She worked as a nurse and after retirement, she when back to college. She sounds like a fierce woman. It seems that she influenced you with her energy and love for life, while you showed her that a woman today can do anything she wants, no matter the age. I was wondering who was a bigger influence in that relationship.
Oh yeah. I mean, that's a great question. God, I'll have to think about that. I mean, we're still so close. I speak to my mom every day, stay with her a few nights a week. She's 80 now, and she's in two of my choirs and she still performs and attends everything. I go to a function with her later on. She has great sense of humor, great personality and we're very, very close. She's amazing. Even all through covid, she just had a very resilient attitude. It never got her down and she just got on with it. She was one of those “Ah, it’s a load of nonsense”. She still did all her vaccines and everything, but she never got into the fear of it. And she's very, very strong.
Did she finish college?
Yeah, she did her certificate in psychology and social studies.
You have a son who is in his 20s now. So, what is he passionate about? Did he follow you in your free spirit footsteps?
Yes, he loves music. He's in the middle of recording his first EP. He's a very, very talented songwriter and he's a videographer. He does all my videos, music videos and all the school’s music videos and choir videos. And he just does that part time and he's very creative. He's kind of full time in creativity in one form or another. Either videos or music.
So, the whole family is in the business.
Yeah, in some way or other. My sister does all of our admin and accounts and event management and organization. So, she's on the organizational side of things. And her children often help with events and security and things like that. And then my other sister is an artist, she does the arty things. There's a lot of us. My younger sister just started directing her first choir, and she had her first show Friday night, it was amazing.
Do you have some new creative projects in mind now?
Yeah, I'm working on my next album. It's called Humanity. And I wrote half of it during lockdown and all those ideas are being developed at the moment and I hope to start recording that in October, November this year.
It was inspired with the situation in the world?
Yeah, just so much space and time and reflection and kind of everything stopping. And the music school has gone online. There's a lot of innovation and a lot of leadership that needed to happen in order to keep the music school alive and going because I run choirs and projects online. It was a very tiring time, even though it was all at home. All the gigs have stopped, so that was really interesting. I was about to do a 35-day tour from that March that was going to end with my album launch in the October of 2020. Yeah, it was a lot of reflection and a lot of writing about it.
I look forward to hearing your new album. Thank you for taking the time and I wish you all the luck with your future projects.
Support Eimear Crehan by buying her music. You'll be glad you did.