Amelia Hogan has been called an “impeccably authentic singer of Celtic music,” and her heart comes through via the highly lyrical solo a cappella style of Irish music known as Sean-Nós, or “old style.” She also plays bodhran (Irish drum) and a small 22-string Welsh lap harp, and has toured internationally.
Despite growing up on the West Coast, Amelia was immersed in traditional Celtic music from an early age. She was also influenced by her mother, a professional songwriter. “I grew up as a babe in arms, going to folk music club events…” she remembers. She was “just really listening directly to previous generations,” as she matured.
Today, Amelia’s own songwriting and performing reflects the authenticity of that folk tradition. Whether traditional or modern, Amelia says, “The songs that I’m most drawn to…there’s got to be a level of emotional truth to the story. There’s got to be a sort of human experience that rings honest.”
Her latest album is called Taking Flight. The 16-track album features one original (the title track)—a joyous a cappella number in four-part harmony—along with a number of traditional, public domain songs, and interpretations of songs by contemporary songwriters.
The songs express heartache, hope, and ultimately a joy-filled conclusion. The unifying theme of birds runs through the project. Often seen as a symbol of loss and sorrow, birds also represent hope and healing and the ability to find beauty in the midst of hardship.
“For many of us,” shares Amelia, “the few years since the spring of 2020 have been full of grief and loss, between death, illness, cultural changes, and unprecedented political upheaval. It feels as if nothing has been left untouched. As I worked through these feelings in my own life, I kept returning to singing and sharing songs related to birds as solace, comfort, and inspiration.
By Dan Walsh