Leahy is one of Canada’s most highly regarded musical groups. Their emergence on the Canadian music scene in the late 1990s introduced audiences to the original Leahy sound – a foundation of strong stride piano, driving rhythm guitar, distinctive bass lines, and propulsive drumming, topped with brilliant fiddles, passionate vocals, and exquisite harmonies. Their new cd, Good Water, explores the outer edges of their traditional/Celtic/folk/roots musical origins, with influences from rock to choral, country to classical, and beyond. If you think you know the Leahy sound, its time to think again!
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Over the course of their notable career, Canadian group Leahy has secured a place as one of the country’s most highly regarded progressive folk-roots bands. Their emergence on the Canadian music scene in the late 1990’s with their chart-topping instrumental single “Call to Dance”, introduced audiences to a new way of accessing a uniquely Canadian music genre. The “Leahy sound” – a combination of strong stride piano, driving rhythm guitar, unique bass lines and layered with a contemporary drumming style – was the foundation from which wildly talented fiddle led instrumentals and vocals were launched to mainstream music listeners. Leahy would go on to win three Juno awards and receive countless accolades for their dynamic and powerful performances.
The Leahy siblings were raised on their family farm near Lakefield, Ontario, Canada. Forebear Michael Leahy arrived in North America in 1825 from Ireland and brought with him a rich musical tradition that has passed down through the generations. Each of the Leahy children learned to play the fiddle from their father, while their mother—who was raised in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia—taught them to sing, dance, and play the piano. As teens, the siblings performed across Canada and quickly became favorites on the festival and fair circuit. In the mid 1990’s a deal with Virgin Records saw their career soar in dramatic fashion. Their 1997 eponymous album, Leahy, seized the public’s attention, and extensive touring (much of it as the opening act for fellow Canadian Shania Twain) boosted the band to phenomenal sales of double platinum in Canada. The album also sold impressively in the U.S. (where it reached No. 4 on the Billboard world music chart), Great Britain and Europe. Along the way, the group snared three Canadian Juno Awards, for “Best Instrumental Group” and “Best New Group” in 1997, and took home the “Best Country Group or Duo” trophy the following year. Commemorating the band’s hometown, Lakefield (2001) was Leahy’s second release, followed up in 2004 by In All Things. To date Leahy has sold more than half a million albums worldwide. They have been featured in three PBS television specials – Leahy Live in Concert, Gael Force (with the Chieftains), and Leahy Live from Gatineau, Quebec – and are the subject of a 1985 Academy Award winning documentary, The Leahys: Music Most of All.
Fast forward to now and enter Grammy Award winning producer, David Bottrill. A fellow Canadian also, David spent the better part of the previous twenty years in the UK developing his craft at Real World studios, working with artist giants like Peter Gabriel, Rush, Smashing Pumpkins and AfroCelt Sound System. Intensity and exacting are just two qualities equally shared by both Bottrill and Leahy. Extremely musical with exquisitely sharp senses, David and his diverse experience was the “fit” the band had been looking for to shepherd their next musical foray. Good Water, to be released in 2020, is the band’s most ambitious recording project to date. It brings the five women members of the group forward, highlighting the band’s songwriting and instrumental compositions and, introduces a new young Leahy to the roster: Xavier, Frank’s (drums) eldest son, on accordion. The result is a wide-ranging collection of tracks that reflect the many musical influences that have inspired the band members – rock, choral, country, classical…. Exploring the edges of their trad/roots/Celtic/folk musical origins with new sounds and instrumentation reveals the band’s drive to continue pushing beyond its traditional footings.
For Leahy there are no boundaries – the band’s genuine love of such a diverse range of music fuels their uncompromising creativity and, by refusing to be bound to the conventions of any one genre, they have forged a truly distinctive reputation. On the edge of another new chapter in their story, some things don’t change – the trademark Leahy experience LIVE. Leahy’s compelling career voyage has proven that a musical style defying easy definition can still find a world-wide audience.