Grainne Duffy has since exploded and it’s obvious why: classic hooks, high cheekbones, a bad-girl voicebox and a whiff of Bonnie Raitt - Classic Rock Magazine 2011
‘An Irish blues singer of real integrity' - Sunday Times
Indeed this is a very true statement. Grainne Duffy is a unique talent, raw and powerful, edgy and elegant. Growing up in Co. Monaghan, Ireland she gained exposure at an early age to such defining influential artists as The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and The Pretenders by raiding her elder sisters’ record collection and very soon was developing her own musical tastes. This began when she heard the subtle playing of Peter Green on such songs as ‘Need Your Love So Bad’ and ‘Albatross’, which was to pave the way for Grainne to start listening to other guitarists such as B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and of course Rory Gallagher. Such a fascination led to Grainne picking up the guitar and beginning what was to be just the start of her musical journey.
All the while she was developing her vocal ability by singing in her local church choir and listening to artists as diverse Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt to name but a few. Growing in confidence, she and her sisters formed their first band and began playing the local circuit performing many of their favourite songs and this was where Grainne first began singing and playing electric guitar live.
After some years playing with her sisters’ band, Grainne, upon finishing secondary school, undertook with completing a music degree at NUI Maynooth. While there she began experimenting with penning her own material. One key influence at this time on her song writing was Carole King’s Tapestry album and Grainne was also becoming very influenced by rhythm and blues and was beginning to find her own voice there. She headed into the studio in March 2007 and began what was to be the recording of her first album. What began as a three song recording session ended a few weeks later as her debut album ‘Out of the Dark’.
Such was the immediate reaction to her first release that she soon became a regular on the festival circuit in her native Ireland and she began taking her music abroad to such places as far flung as the Arctic island of Svalbard, Norway. She then was asked to appear for 3 days at Glastonbury 2008. There she was lucky enough to share the stage with such wonderful artists as Joan Baez, Suzanne Vega, Sinead O Connor and Seasick Steve to name but a few. She opened the acoustic stage on day one with her full band with what was to be an unforgettable performance. At this point Grainne had introduced among her own material her show stopping version of the Etta James classic ‘I’d Rather go Blind’ to her set.
Alongside appearing at many of Ireland's leading festivals Grainne was also approached by the BBC to record a track ‘Get Here…’ for their T.V. promotion campaign in George Martin's Air Studio in London, which was then aired over the summer on BBC 1 and BBC 2. She also was asked to take part in R.T.E’s highly acclaimed 'Other Voices' music programme along with Eric Bibb, Christy Moore, Elbow, Billy Bragg and many more. While there, she also took part in an interview with RTE's John Kelly. Grainne has appeared alongside Paul Brady for the re-opening of the newly refurbished Ulster Hall and also at the renowned Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland and an extensive tour of Norway.
Grainne has moved from playing a Strat to a Gibson Les Paul, a guitar which was to become her recognisable sound. Simultaneously, her fan base was continuing to grow at home and abroad. With her band now featuring a full line-up of second guitar - Paul Sherry, bass - Davy Watson, drums - Gerry Morgan and piano -John McCullough, this ensemble was gaining a well earned reputation as a stellar unit always delivering passionate performances - the perfect foundation for Grainne’s vocals, guitar playing and her songs.
2011 saw Grainne and her band begin the recording of her second album. Recording took place in Bangor, Co. Antrim at Hillhouse Studios and was spread out over the spring and summer due to the ever increasing touring schedule of the band at home and abroad in Norway, Scotland, Isle of Man, Holland and Belgium. A much anticipated release for the fall of 2011 sees an album of eleven self penned tracks spanning Grainne’s many and varied influences all brought together by her ever rich sublime vocals and the heartfelt expression in her guitar playing. On this record Grainne teamed up with well known producer and mixing engineer Niko Bolas working from Capitol Studios in L.A.
She also appeared on a number of local BBC Radio 2 shows in England, playing live, tracks from her debut and forthcoming record. She was asked to perform a live session for Pat Kenny on RTE Radio 1 earlier this year to coincide with her single release. Grainne was also asked this year to appear on the front cover of The Sunday Times 'Culture' Magazine, which featured a two page spread about Grainne’s music and how in a world obsessed with manufactured talent shows she is happy to do things ‘her way’.
With so much more still on the horizon for Grainne and her band, this second release - Test of Time will only be another stepping stone in an already blossoming career. Her wonderful mix of blues rock and soul in her original material and her treatment of a few carefully selected standards charged with true emotion and feeling can win over any audience and leave you begging for more. With her passion, which no one can deny when they hear her sing, with her emotion, which no one can ignore when they hear her play and with her unique presence, which is hard to express in words when you see her perform, it is difficult to imagine what 2012 and beyond will have in store for Grainne Duffy. It is not often a rare, honest talent like this comes along but when it does it is instantly recognisable and must be appreciated.