With four generations of musicians in the family, music has to be in your genes. Having a great grandfather that traveled with an opera company playing violin in the orchestra at age 15, and having a mother who sings plus many other musicians in the family; Shioban O’Brien did not have a choice weather or not to play and write music. It’s in the genes.
At age 16 Shioban started playing guitar and at age 18 her boyfriend pushed her into actually playing in public. Soon after that she started writing her own tunes and the work began.
Shioban considers herself a folksinger, pulling together music and lyrics to tell her stories and share her feelings. Silence is her friend when it comes to writing music. Inspirations comes from her intense ability to observe and process everything touching her life.
Like many of us, she has had difficult times in her personal life as well as her professional life. One of the things she deals with in the states when people find out she is Irish is “Can you play Danny Boy?” She says she loves traditional Irish music, but that is not her thing. Most of the time she can be gracious, but sometimes it is hard to believe how limited people can be in there perceptions of visitors from other countries.
Most recently she took a gig aboard a cruise ship in Alaska. It brought home one of the things that is happening in live music right now. “Music is not a number one priority. No one is interested enough in the smaller scale performer. If you are big in the industry everyone wants to know you, but the less famous players do not get the support needed.”
One of the things she is working on right now is finding an audience. It seems this is only possible through the online world even if you tour frequently.
Shioban has been touring the U.S. from Philadelphia, to Nashville, up and down the east coast and the west coast. Another lass from Ireland, Philomena, is a cousin of Siobhan’s and has Nana’s Irish Pub in Newport, Oregon. Of course Shioban had to stop in and play for the folks there.
Through our conversations we talked about writing music and how it relates to life in general and a very profound thought came to Shioban. “Intimacy can be scary!”. We stopped and looked at each other and realized the truth in this statement. Many songs are written about love and it’s loss.
Shioban performed at the Axe and Fiddle recently and listening to her beautiful, soulful voice the audience was mesmerized. A favorite of mine is “My Man” where she talks about a very strong person that meant a lot to her. She visited with an Indian tribe in South Dakota and her song “Spirit” is filled with the strong emotions she took away from time spent with those proud and caring people. Skillfully she plays guitar giving you a sense of the rhythm of the Indian drums. Performing her songs she pulls you into her world with the haunting high notes and the skillful way she has of making you feel what she felt when she wrote the song.
Her music is available at http://www.siobhanobrien.com/. Listen; you will not be sorry.