In the third article on who could potentially represent Ireland in Malmo 2013 attention is moved away from television talent shows to home grown talent in the form of none other than 38 year old singer/songwriter Imelda May.
Imelda may not be well known to many Eurovision fans, but at home and indeed internationally she is considered one of the most talented singers and performers that Ireland has ever produced.
Imelda released her first studio album back in 2003 “No turning back” she then moved to London to pursue her career, the album was re-released in 2005. She quickly grew a reputation with music critics and in 2008 got a major break by appearing on the popular contemporary BBC TV music programme “Later with Jools Holland”. This led to the released of her second album “Love Tattoo” in 2009 which got rave critical reviews from the music industry and the album went on to make number 1 in Ireland. Two singles where released “Jonny gotta a boom boom” and “Big bad handsome man” which helped to establish Imelda as a creditable force in the music industry not just in the UK and Ireland but also significantly attention in the USA. Her version of “Tainted Love” sums up both her vocal range and ability to make rockabilly contemporary.
The success of the second album opened a range of opportunities for Imelda in terms of both touring and collaborations with a range of artists including numerous television appearances and she went on to win Best Female Vocalist at the 2009 Irish Music Metor Awards.
In January 2010 Imelda’s reputation took her to the global stage as she performed with Jeff Beck at the US Grammy Awards and then went on to tour throughout Europe at various festivals such as “Eurosonic” in the Netherlands.
Her third album “Mayhem” was released in September 2010 and was nominated for the Choice Music Prize, won the RTE Radio 1 Album of the Year and again reached No. 1 in the Irish Album Charts and number 7 in the UK. The album also got to number 2 in the US Billboard Blues charts and No 1 in the US Billboard Heatseekers charts. Five singles from the album where also released with the title track “Mayhem”, and “Kentish Town Waltz” both making the top 30 in Ireland.
Imelda’s profile in the states has seen her tour with the likes of Jamie Callum and she was invited to contributed a cover of Buddy Holly’s “I’m Looking for Someone to Love” for the tribute album, “Listen to Me: Buddy Holly”, which was released in September 2011. That December Imelda played to a sold out O2 in Dublin, in front of 16,000 fans where a certain Bono joined her on stage as a guest.
2012 seen Imelda continue her live tours and TV performances until June when she took a break, as she is expecting her first child, but announced that she was keen to get back into the studio in early 2013 and get back on the music circuit.
There is no doubting Imelda’s credentials in terms of being a performer but the big question is – “Is Eurovision ready for Rockabilly?”
Eurovision has a chequered history with Rockabilly; remember the opening of the 2011 contest, when Lena joined Stefan Rabb on stage for a rockabilly version of Satellite – it blew the crowd away. The Playtones sought to represent Sweden in 2011 with “The King” but failed to get selected. Copycat tried for Belgium in 2009 but didnt make it out of the semi-final. Switzerland even tried to persuade top Rockabilly band “The Hillbilly Moon Explosion” to represent them but the Hillbilly’s turned down that offer.
Imelda’s stunning looks match her amazing voice and she would deliver a very different package from what we have seen from Jedward over the past two years, or indeed any Irish act before her. The exceptional talent that is Imelda May would be an amazing coupe if RTE could entice her to re-launch her career using Eurovision as a platform and there certainly is enough punch to deliver a potential winner for the Rockabilly sound and Ireland – but will RTE opt for a little known artist instead of an established name?