2019 marks the 57th anniversary of THE CHIEFTAINS’ beginning. Since 1962 they have been Grammy Award-winners six times and are 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 propelled them as one of the most renowned and revered musical groups to this day.
As cultural ambassadors, they have given performances linked to seminal historic events, such as being the first Western musicians to perform on the Great Wall of China, participating in Roger Waters’ “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 variety of their music and accompanying musicians quickly captured a much broader audience, elevating their status to the likes of fellow Irish band, U2.
In Ireland they have performed on many momentous occasions, such as Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1979, when they performed for an audience of over 1.3 million, and in 2011 for HRH Queen Elizabeth II during her historic visit to Ireland. 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.”
To celebrate their 50th anniversary, 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 their love of, and loyalty to, their roots – they are as comfortable playing spontaneous Irish sessions as they are headlining a concert at Carnegie Hall. After more than fifty years of making some of the most beautiful music in the world, The Chieftains remain as fresh and relevant as when they first began.