Cathy Jordan is the lead singer of Irish folk band Dervish as well as a successful solo artist.
Her career spans three decades, during which time she has worked with some of the top folk stars in the world and performed in landmark concerts in places like China and Israel.
Not only is she regarded as a fine singer, she is also a natural entertainer who can interact brilliantly with her audience.
Growing up in a musical family
She was born in Scramogue, Co Roscommon and grew up on a small farm. She came from a very musical family. Both her parents were singers, and so were her brothers and sisters.
Cathy was the youngest of seven children and grew up surrounded by music and singing from an early age. From as early as three years old she could perform a repertoire of songs to family members.
The family were fans of traditional Irish folk but also liked American music. They had relatives who lived in the States who sent records by major country artists like the Carter Family and Hank Williams.
As well as singing, Jordan has also taught herself to play several musical instruments including, guitar, bodhran, bones and bouzouki.
A natural star and entertainer
At school she appeared in musicals and was always in the starring role. She played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Ado Annie in Oklahoma. She would also perform at weddings and Christenings at the weekend when she was young.
When she was a teenager she performed in several venues throughout the midland counties of Ireland and in 1985 she was named the Longford Leader Entertainer of the Year.
When she left school she continued playing gigs at the weekends and worked as a pastry chef and radio DJ.
A fresh feel to traditional songs
She joined folk band Dervish in 1991 when she was 19. Dervish had a reputation for giving traditional songs a fresh and modern sound. Jordan became their lead singer and bodran player.
They released an album, Harmony Hill, in 1993. It was the first album Dervish recorded with Jordan and it was very popular with critics.
Key performances at iconic sites
Since Jordan joined Dervish, they have performed thousands of concerts together. They have played at iconic sites such as the Great Wall of China and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
They performed to 250,000 people at the Rock in Rio festival.
In 2000, Jordan performed a show called Waves with the National Concert Orchestra. Waves was composed by Charlie Lennon and conducted by Prionnsias O Duinn.
Representing Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest
Dervish are so well known for their traditional music that they have become a symbol of Irish culture. They are often asked to represent Ireland and Irish music.
On one occasion they went to China for a trade exposition to try to improve business relations between the Irish and Chinese.
In 2007, Dervish represented Ireland in the Eurovision song contest. They performed the track ‘They Can’t stop the Sun’ after the Irish public voted for the song on The Late Late Show.
Unfortunately, on the night, Dervish and Ireland finished last in the voting which led to several complaints of ‘vote hijacking’ from Irish music fans.
Despite the setback, Dervish said they would always continue playing their music simply for the joy of playing. They said:“It’s about heart and soul, it’s not about votes.”
Radio appearances in the USA
There was better news for the band that year as they performed on Garrison Keillor’s US radio show. Keillor fronts ‘The Prairie Home Companion’ which is the longest running radio show in America. Two million listeners heard Dervish perform on the show.
The band also made a series of radio shows in the US that were presented by Jordan and featured music from Dervish as well as guest appearances from several well known Irish musicians such as Frankie Gavin, Moya Brennan, Martin O’Conner, the Saw Doctors, Paddy Moloney and Celtic Tenors.