Maura O’Connell to Release Naked With Friends
A Cappella Disc Features Stellar Guest Vocalists
(NASHVILLE, TENN.) April 21, 2009 -- Long known as an expert interpretive singer, Maura O’Connell spent nearly two years working on a project she’s been wanting to do for a very long time. The result is Naked With Friends, O’Connell’s first a cappella album, which will be released by Sugar Hill Records June 16, 2009.
“The idea of doing a record like this has been with me a very long time, “O’Connell says. “I’m always being asked why I don’t play an instrument or why I don’t write songs. I’ve gathered the consciousness that singing should be just fine, that it is a viable talent on its own.”
The Grammy-nominated singer put on a producer’s hat for this project, co-producing with Gary Paczosa. As fans have come to expect, O’Connell has picked powerful songs that blur genre lines. Five traditional songs – in both English and Irish – are paired with works by the likes of Joan Armatrading, Darrell Scott, Cheryl Wheeler, Janis Ian and Holly Near. The County Clare native has been singing Armatrading’s “The Weakness in Me” since starting out in folk clubs years ago; Cheryl Wheeler’s “Arrow” has been a favorite for nearly two decades; and although she could not recall the title of “Hay Una Mujer Desaparecida,” the song’s first line and melody stuck with her since hearing it on the radio many years ago.
When it came time to add guest vocalists to the mix, O’Connell once again showed her diversity of style, inviting Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, Paul Brady, Mary Black, Tim O’Brien, Darrell Scott, Sarah Dugas (The Duhks), Aoife O’Donovan (Crooked Still), Mairéad Ni Mhaorigh, Moya Brennan, Liam Bradley, Declan O’Rourke, the Settles Connection, Kate Rusby and O’Connell’s younger sister, Aine Derrane. Longtime collaborator and ace Dobro man Jerry Douglas is featured singing in Irish on “Mo Sheamuseen.”
“I’ve learned an awful lot making this record,” O’Connell says. “The experience has taught me so much about the value and the power of a great song. On its own, a good song has power, poetry and tragedy in it.”