Singer-Songwriters Celebrate Women of Civil Rights Movement with Ulster Orchestra Collaboration

Singer-Songwriters Celebrate Women of Civil Rights Movement with Ulster Orchestra Collaboration

Four of Northern Ireland’s most promising young music artists have written and recorded a new collection of songs marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights movement, which launched with a special live showcase at the Nerve Centre in May.

Susie-Blue, ROE, Rebecca Mulhern and Reevah worked with viola player Philip Walton and other musicians from the Ulster Orchestra to create tracks based on four women who played key roles in the events of 1968 and still resonate with each of the singer-songwriters to this day.

Nerve Centre selected Bernadette McAliskey, Nell McCafferty, Bridget Bond and Bridget Makowski, who all have a special connection to Derry~Londonderry/Burntollet, for the Literary Ladies to research and write monologues on, helping the recording artists relate each of the Civil Rights women’s stories to the challenges facing their own generation.

Funded by Creative Europe, the project is part of the European Orchestra Laboratory (EO Lab II), which sees the Ulster Orchestra work with different groups in Derry to produce exciting collaborations and bring new audiences together.

Backed by her three band members and their dreamy pop-rock sound, Susie-Blue has been steadily blazing a trail through the music scene, leading to a debut performance at last year’s Glastonbury Festival. They released their politically-charged album Didn’t Mean to Care to acclaim in February, drawing comparisons to Wolf Alice and The Cranberries.

Roisin Donald aka ROE has continued her rapid rise since her second EP, You Call It Art, grabbed the attention of the music world in 2017. The 18-year old’s latest single ‘Wasted. Patient. Thinking.’ sees her infectious electronic pop sound developed further and audiences will be eager to see her perform as part of BBC’s Biggest Weekend later this month.

Rebecca Mulhern was recently named Stendhal Festival’s 2018 Featured Artist for her striking talent in visual arts, but has also appeared at the award-winning event four times as a solo performer and continues to equally be one to watch on the live music stage.

With the launch coming days ahead of her own debut EP Hummingbird, Reevah has already graced the world-renowned 'Ruby Sessions' in Dublin with her melodic folk songs and provided support to music legend Christian McNeill in his homecoming show late last year.

The singer, whose real name is Aoife Boyle and who based one of her songs on feminist, journalist and playwright Nell McCafferty, said that collaborating with everyone involved with ‘Beyond the Walls’ has been a ‘wonderful experience with a brilliant outcome’.

‘The project has brought together a lot of creative people from the city and has given me the opportunity to write freely and reflect upon the Civil Rights movement and Derry's history. Overall I have found it to be very enriching and informative as I have discovered and learnt so much about my city’s historical background.’

Orchestral arrangements for the songs were composed by Ulster Orchestra viola player Phillip Walton, who is part of the EO Lab II team. Beyond the Walls - Reflections on Civil Rights is now available to listen to on Spotify or purchase on iTunes.

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