The Barbican plays host to Imagining Ireland

Barbican plays host Imagining Ireland
Maria Kelly

Ireland’s finest artists to assemble for ‘GB18 Programme: Celebrating Irish Arts in Britain’

Some of Ireland’s top emerging artists in music and spoken word will be on stage in a showcase of contemporary Irish performing arts at the Barbican next month.

Imagining Ireland: 21st Century Song is part of Ireland’s 60-event, year long ‘GB18 Programme: Celebrating Irish Arts in Britain’.

The concert, part of Ireland’s National Concert Hall’s (NCH) Perspectives series devised by BellX1’s Paul Noonan and the NCH head of programme planning Gary Sheehan, hopes to build on the successes of 2016’s Imagining Ireland concert at London’s Festival Hall and the 2014 Ceiliuradh concert at Royal Albert Hall that featured in President Higgins’ British State visit to this country.

Bell X1’s Noonan and Lisa Hannigan will perform and introduce acts including hip hop artists Mango & Mathman, ‘atmosfolk’ artist Maria Kelly, Sierra Leonean/Irish singer Loah, composer Éna Brennan and members of Crash Ensemble orchestra, Saint Sister, Maria Kelly, Brian Deady, Seamus Fogarty and J Colleran, poet Stephen James Smith.

The idea is to showcase Irish acts who might not be quite as well known to audiences in this country.

Barbican plays host Imagining Ireland
Mango Dassle

For instance, Mango & Mathman (Karl ‘Mango’ Mangan and producer Adam ‘MathMan’ Fogarty), formerly of an Irish hop-hop ‘collective’ called The Animators, rap in Dublin ‘street’ accents and have been building up quite a following.

Their track Rapih (Selecta) has been streamed more than 100,000 times on Spotify.

But undoubtedly one of the rising stars is Irish-Sierra Leonean Sallay Matu Garnett, 31, or Loah.

Sallay was born in Kenya, lived in London and Maynooth, moved with her family to Gambia and did her leaving Cert and University studies in Ireland.

Her Sierra Leonean father met her Irish mother in Kenya, where she was travelling, and teaching English.

As a child Sallay was classically trained on piano and violin and attended Trinity College Dublin and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

She co-wrote a song with Hozier, Someone New, and realized she wanted to be a professional musician so in 2013 took on the stage name Loah. Last year, she released her debut EP, This Heart which she financed it herself.

The album and her performances in festivals like Electric Picnic and South by Southwest, in the US, were critically acclaimed.

Kilburn writer, Zadie Smith, is a fan, and so Riverdance composer Bill Whelan, with whom Loah has toured.

Event details: 5 Mar 2018, 19:30, Barbican

More info at

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