by Simon Haines
I have followed the fortunes of the Derry singer Cara Dillon for about 30 years, in fact since I first saw her as a teenager in the group Oige, at Colchester Arts Centre. Her voice and her treatment of songs was mesmerizing and I became an instant fan. Cara appeared next in The Equation, a pop-folk band, where she replaced Kate Rusby who had left to start her solo career. The other members of the Equation were Kathryn Roberts and the Lakeman brothers: Sam, Sean and Seth.
Fast forward a few years and Cara Dillon and Sam Lakeman formed a duo. Rumour has it that the recordings they made for Warner Brothers were never released, so they walked away and started an independent musical life. Eventually Cara Dillon released a solo album and has since gone on from strength to strength to become an internationally acclaimed singer of traditional Irish songs. She has performed her repertoire in a duo with Sam Lakeman but also with other formations of traditional musicians. She has appeared regularly on TV in Transatlantic Sessions.
Adversely affected by the pandemic and unable to work, like thousands of other musicians, Cara and Sam decided to put on a live concert in a real venue (Cooper Hall, Frome Somerset), with sound and lighting crews etc. but, of course without an audience. The result was a stunning professional performance which can still be seen on YouTube. It was free to watch, but online viewers were invited to make a contribution. A recording of the concert is available to download from Bandcamp, as are all Cara's other recordings.
If you know Cara Dillon's music, this was a real treat. If you have never heard her, this stunning 75-minute performance is still available to view on YouTube. There is plenty more to find out about Cara Dillon on her website: https://www.caradillon.co.uk