When Two Lovers Meet
Born in Madrid, Spain and raised in Chicago, singer/guitarist and songwriter Sarah McQuaid lived in Ireland from 1994 to 2007. She has now moved with her husband and two children to the home formerly occupied by her parents near Penzance, Cornwall. As might be expected of one who has led such a peripatetic existence, Sarah developed a taste for the road early on: From the age of twelve she was embarking on ten-day tours of the US and Canada with the Chicago Children's Choir. A year or two later she was already a prolific songwriter, entertaining her classmates at school assemblies. At eighteen she went to France for a year to study philosophy at the University of Strasbourg, where her performance at a local folk club drew a rave review in the Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace, saluting the "superbe chanteuse d'outre-Atlantique qui fit passer comme une vibration émotionnelle dans une salle conquise" (superb singer from across the Atlantic who caused an emotional vibration to pass through a conquered hall)! Having discovered Irish music and the DADGAD open tuning during her stint in France, Sarah went on to found the traditional band Carnloch after graduating from Haverford College (a Quaker institution better known as the co-educational counterpart of it's sister college Bryn Mawr) with a Magna Cum Laude (High Honours) BA in philosophy. The band toured folk clubs, colleges and universities for several years, and released a self-produced CD, The Crooked Road, in 1993. In 1994, Sarah moved to Ireland, where she became a weekly folk music columnist for the Evening Herald and a contributor to Hot Press magazine. She is also the author of a guitar tutor, The Irish DADGAD Guitar Book, described by The Irish Times as "a godsend to aspiring traditional guitarists." In the autumn of 1997, she recorded her debut solo album, When Two Lovers Meet, featuring traditional tunes and songs along with one original number. The album received a sizeable amount of airplay and drew highly favourable reviews: "Boy, hasn't Sarah got a good voice - rich, deep, mature," Irish Music Magazine enthused, while The Irish Times called her "an accomplished guitarist" and the album "a debut to note"; Hot Press cited "a warm, velvet-tinged voice and a distinctive acoustic guitar style which mark her out as a significant talent" and the Rough Guide To Irish Music wrote: "Sarah's voice is both as warm as a turf fire and as rich as matured cognac.... An astonishing debut by a unique talent." Despite the critical acclaim, a long break from the music scene followed, during which Sarah worked full time as a magazine editor, married Feargal Shiels and had two children: Eli, born in 2003, and Lily Jane, born in 2005. When Two Lovers Meet was re-released in Ireland on 23 February 2007, with distribution and promotional support from Gael Linn Records. Sarah's ensuing nationwide tour was highly successful, thanks in large part to extensive coverage on radio (including interviews and live in-studio performances) and a very well-received appearance on The View, the acclaimed arts television show hosted by John Kelly on RTÉ1. Ranging from pubs to folk clubs to arts centres and theatres, the venues included such well-known locales as the Crane Bar (Galway), the Cobblestone (Dublin), Barry's Public House (Grange, Co. Sligo), the Solstice Arts Centre (Navan, Co. Meath), the Flowerfield Arts Centre (Portstewart), the Triskel Arts Centre (Cork) and the Chord International Music Festival in Ennis, where she gave a workshop on the DADGAD guitar tuning in addition to her concert set. In May 2007 she returned to Trevor Hutchinson's Marguerite Studios in Dublin, where When Two Lovers Meet had been recorded some ten years previously, to make a new album with Gerry O'Beirne once again in the producer's seat. The focus this time round is on old-timey American folk songs and tunes, plus two original songs; guest musicians include Hutchinson, O'Beirne, percussionist Liam Bradley and violinist/violist Máire Breatnach. Entitled I Won't Go Home 'Til Morning, the album is set for release in October 2008, following on from the UK release of When Two Lovers Meet on 30 July 2007 (UK distribution through Proper Records). Now busy with upcoming tours and concerts in Ireland, the UK and Holland, Sarah is also slowly but surely working on a novel for which she's received two Arts Council Bursaries in Literature. She hopes to finish it one of these days.