Luck O’ the Irish: Black Artists from the Emerald Isle

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, Media Archive on 2016-09-10 21:16Z by Steven

Luck O’ the Irish: Black Artists from the Emerald Isle

Rhonda Nicole, Managing Editor

U2 graced us with one of the greatest songs in the history of music, “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” and spammed everyone’s Apple devices with an album many never asked for (2014’s Songs of Innocence). Sinéad O’Connor teased as she sang “I Want Your (Hands On Me),” teared up as she crooned “Nothing Compares 2 U,” and tore up a photo of the pope. The Cranberries begged to let it “Linger,” while Hozier pleaded “Take Me to Church” (interestingly, O’Connor did as well, although it was a completely different song). Scan any pop or rock radio station, and you’re bound to hear a tune or two from Irish musical acts. The Corrs, The Frames, Enya, and countless others have dominated the American musical landscape for decades, becoming as essential a part of popular music experience as your standard issue garage band-turned Grammy darling.

Whereas other European countries have gifted us with a rather diverse cadre of acts of color—British artists like Omar Lye-Fook, Corinne Bailey Rae, Lianne La Havas, Estelle, and Brand New Heavies; Ben l’Oncle Soul, Les Nubians, and Corneille from France; and Belgium’s Zap Mama, Jean-Louis Daulne, and Technotronic’s Ya Kid K (by way of the Democratic Republic of Congo), Ireland, not all that surprisingly, hasn’t produced nearly as many. According to the 2006 Irish census, just around 1% of the country’s population self-identified as black. Still, black actors, athletes, writers, and politicians have made an impact on Irish culture, be they Irish-born or immigrants from various parts of Africa and the Caribbean. And black Irish musicians, though perhaps not as readily recognizable here in the U.S., are equally as notable as their British and French counterparts…

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