Pauline Scanlon:
rising Irish star

An interview by Tom Knapp,
October 2002

Sometimes, all it takes is a single lucky break to move a talented musician from obscurity to fame. Pauline Scanlon, of Dingle in County Kerry, Ireland, may have had that lucky break when Irish superstar Sharon Shannon invited her on her 2002 tour.

I heard Pauline when she sang four songs during a pair of Sharon Shannon concerts at the Celtic Colours festival in Cape Breton. Pauline, 23, has an excellent voice, powerful projection and a bluesy edge, and it's easy to believe she's on the verge of greatness. Certainly, touring with Sharon will help give her the exposure she needs to make her mark.

Pauline and Sharon had met before, Pauline explained, and Sharon had heard her sing. "Then she just rang me up -- she was changing her band around -- and asked me to do a couple of gigs," Pauline said. "A couple of gigs turned into a lot of gigs. Now it's all the time."

Previously, Pauline did most of her singing at pub gigs and on the session circuit in Ireland. She has performed in a duo with Galway's Tony Small and was in a low-key Irish band with Tola Custy and Mirella Murray. She is 95 percent done on her first solo CD, she said after one of her Cape Breton performances, and already has plans for a disc she will begin recording early in 2003.

"It will be mostly original material," Pauline said. Although fond of Irish traditional songs, Pauline draws more inspiration from folk and singer-songwriter greats like Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, John Spillane, Bob Dylan, Tori Amos and the Indigo Girls. ("I love the Indigo Girls," she gushed.)

"I love the trad as well," Pauline said. "And I do sing a lot of traditional songs."

But her dream is to launch a full-time solo career and make her name as a singer-songwriter. "It's very introspective," she said of her original compositions. She laughed. "I'm very self-absorbed."

Actually, she borders on self-depracation when she discusses her future. "I'm just a girl who sings," she insisted. "I have no ambition to be world famous ... but I'd like to bring it up a level."

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 23 November 2002