Ten minutes with Brigid O'Neill

Ten minutes with Brigid O'Neill

Brigid O’Neill, a singer songwriter from Co. Down, weaves elements of folk, country and jazz into her compositions. Her new single Live a Little Lie Oh has just been released.

What are you up to?

Right now I’m truly delighted to be finally at the stage of releasing a brand new single Live a Little Lie Oh in the run up to a full album that I recorded in Nashville in January. The pandemic played havoc with the schedule, so I’ve been waiting over two years to get this song recorded and released. It’s so good to be getting it out into the world now and planning lots of great live music events around it.

Which piece of music always sends a shiver down your spine?

The theme from Jaws - those two tense, ascending notes, still succeed in sending a shiver down my spine - I love the power of music in movies. But in a good way ….I adore anything with close vocal harmonies, so To Know Him is to Love Him from Trio with Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt does it for me every time.

Which musician has most influenced you?

I drew a lot from Bonnie Raitt in my younger years. I loved not only her incredible singing and delivery, but the way she moved effortlessly across genres, with great authenticity in each.

Who would be in your ideal band?

I had a pretty ideal band out in Nashville when I made my album there: Doug Lancio, Eamonn McLoughlin, Dean Marold, Dan Mitchell and Neilson Hubbard and I have great players here in Belfast too. In fantasy land though, it would be good to have Pino Palladino and Steve Gadd in the band.

How did you get started in music?

I suppose I grew up being the singer in the family - every Irish fam ily has one. I started performing in an iconic local folk club in Belfast called the Sunflower at 18, and got on to the folk festivals circuit from there.

What are your Irish roots?

I’m Co. Down born and bred. In early days I was always involved in the Belfast music scene which was considerably more limited during the years of the Troubles. Folksingers who played Belfast despite that, like Christy Moore, Mary Black, Maura O’Connell, Horslips and Paul Brady and indeed Nanci Griffith, to name a few, influenced me a lot. I mixed the whole folk music circuit with the traditional music one when I started touring in Europe and the States with the traditional band Deanta.

What’s on your smartphone playlist at the minute?

Villagers, Sarah Jarosz, and Madison Cunningham …but John Prine and Bonnie Raitt are never too far away…

What is your favourite place in Ireland?

Glencolmcille, Co. Donegal

Mozart or Martin Hayes?

Well a bit of both to be honest.

What would be your motto?

“To thine own self be true” Good old Shakespeare. Learnt it at school, but I live by it again and again.

Which living person do you most admire?

My mother

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given this year?

Stay in lane

Have you a favourite line from a song?

Janis Ian From Me to You…sorry it's a verse…..

“Those people who surround you

Only want to see you weak enough to crawl

They’ll lie for you decide for you

And buy up all your rights and all your wrongs

And they’ll try to stop your singing

In the middle of your song

For they do not want you free

And they do not make you strong

But only drag you down

In the hole they’re coming from

In terms of inanimate objects, what is your most precious possession?

Probably my guitar. It’s a Lowden, hand-made one from here in Co. Down

What’s the best thing about where you live?

The light and the sky

. . . . and the worst?

The lack of a late bus home from Belfast.

What’s the greatest lesson life has taught you?

Everything passes

What gives you the greatest laugh?

Friends and family

What do you believe in?


What do you consider the greatest work of art?

Too hard…. A novel that you can’t put down; a song that makes you cry instantly; a film you cant get out of your head for days and subtly changes the way you behave; a painting that makes you want to write a song…..

Who/what is the greatest love of your life?

Apart from my husband and my family, creating something entirely from scratch.