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Liam Clancy

The youngest and the last surviving of the Clancy Brothers, Liam Clancy played a major role in the success of the Irish folk singing group that he shared with his brothers. "I never heard a singer as good as (Liam)," said Bob Dylan during a late-1990s interview. "He was just the best ballad singer I ever heard in my life. Still is, probably. I can't think of anyone who is a better ballad singer." Clancy was drawn to creative endeavors at a young age. Painting and writing poetry and short stories since childhood, he produced, directed, designed scenery and acted in several local theatrical productions as a teen. Although his mother was considered an important source for Irish folksongs, it wasn't until an American folksong collector visited the Clancy home, in 1955, that he began to sing. "The first thing I ever sang," he later recalled, "was the recording that Diane Hamilton made - "The Lark In The Morning." Clancy's involvement with Hamilton had a profound effect on his future. Accompanying her to Keady, County Armagh, he met folksinger Sarah Makem and her son, Tommy Makem, who became his life-long friend and musical collaborator. Together with Makem, Clancy emigrated to the United States, in 1956, hoping to find jobs as stage and television actors. They soon found that they earn more money by singing Irish folk songs at Greenwich Village nightspot, the Fifth Peg (later: Gerde's Folk City), with Clancy's older brother, Paddy, who had settled in New York a couple of months before their arrival. Releasing their debut album, Irish Songs Of Rebellion, on Paddy Clancy's label, Tradition, in 1956, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem ushered in a new era of Irish folk music. With the encouragement and support of heiress Diane Guggenheim, they joined with beat poets, artists and other folk singers to transform New York's Greenwich Village into a bastion of creativity. Performing regularly in top New York nightclubs, by the early-1960s, Clancy and the group were launched to international stardom after appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1961. Scheduled to perform two songs, they were forced to extend their appearance when the show's headliner cancelled. The following year, they performed to a sold-out audience at Carnegie Hall. Clancy continued to sing with his brothers until embarking on a solo career in 1973. Having settled in Calgary, Alberta, he hosted his own television show, for which he received a Canadian Emmy. Although he was no longer a member of the Clancy Brothers, Clancy continued to collaborate with Makem, recording a series of impressive duo albums during the 1980s. Reuniting with his brothers in 1984, Clancy rejoined the Clancy Brothers for concerts in Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Galway and New York's Lincoln Center. Although he also played with his brothers, and nephew Robbie O'Connell, in 1990, a serious rift between Clancy and Paddy Clancy prevented them for playing together for six years. Working his problems with his brother out, in 1996, Clancy rejoined the Clancy Brothers, who now included his brothers, Paddy and Bobby and O'Connell, to record an album, Older But No Wiser and embark on a farewell tour. He continued to tour with his son, Donal, and O'Connell, as Clancy, O'Connell, Clancy from 1996 until 1999. Clancy currently resides in Ring, a small, county Waterford, village on Ireland's southeastern coast, where he supervises his own recording studio. In 2002, Clancy's memoirs, The Mountain Of The Women, were published by Doubleday. Craig Harris

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