Limerick singer Louise Phelan is making waves in jazz music overseas in her new home in Mexico city. Her current album ‘Moments of Light’ has brought national recognition in her adopted home. She talks to Limerick Post about jazz, all night singsongs and fresh periwinkle air.
by Eric FitzGerald
ORIGINALLY from Limerick, jazz singer, Louise Phelan has been based in Mexico city these last five years and is setting the jazz scene in that city alight. Since moving there she has released two albums and media attention for her live shows has been very positive, “Louise is a reference for the kind of good jazz from Mexico,” says International Jazz Review writer Carlos Bono and Excelsior, a national newspaper, described her as a “cross between Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, as her voice floats between clouds of strings and winds with an indubitably vintage sound.”
Louise was first inspired to tread the boards during her formative years at school at the Salesians on North Circular Road. As part of an extended family that includes well known Limerick singers, musicians, actors and DJs, such talents as Judy O’Connor, Andrew Bromell, Stephen Ryan, Richie Ryan, Conor Ryan and Maedbh O’Connor, it is of little surprise that Louise has a passion for music and drama.
“We are a close knit family on my mom’s side with regular mad and loud family gatherings that almost always end in a harmony filled sing-song!” she told Limerick Post.
Louise studied performance and teaching diplomas in Acting Performance through the London College of Music, attended Spotlight Stage School and took part in many musicals and pantos in the city. Since leaving Ireland at 18 she toured with Up With People as a vocal instructor, worked for Sony BMG and Universal in Sweden before taking to the high seas with Royal Caribbean to perform in the musical shows onboard one of their luxury cruise ships.
After visiting Mexico for a couple of months to pursue some leads she took the plunge and moved to Mexico City permanently in 2010.
Louise says, “I now live and work here in this huge metropolis and am very happy with how everything has fallen into place. I decided to give it a go here with both Jazz and Alexander Technique (which is my other profession and passion in life). I had to learn Spanish and have since become fluent and now teach and sing in this beautiful language. Also thanks to music and my work with the opera, I get to travel out of the city regularly for festivals and have seen some amazingly beautiful parts of the country.”
Louise is an independent artist distributed by Fonarte Latino distributing nationally. “People still buy physical CDs over here,”
Louise’s latest jazz album ‘Moments of Light’ was recorded live in Sala de Audio studios in Mexico City with renowned sound engineer Salvador Tercero and with musicians who are amongst the finest and most respected in the country.
Since releasing ‘Moments of Light’, the media attention has grown and Louise recorded a one hour programme for a national TV station and GQ Magazine has recorded three songs live in studio for their online TV channel and magazine publication.
“I was fortunate to be able to collaborate with some of the greatest jazz musicians here, among them Alex Mercado, Marc Osterer, Gabriel Puentes, Agustin Bernal, Gerry Lopez to name a few. I was also afforded the great honour of representing Ireland at the Euro Jazz Festival, which is a huge jazz festival, the biggest in Mexico, with a live audience of over 10,000 people in an open air concert, transmitted on national TV.”
Looking to the future, Louise plans to record a third jazz album for the Latin American market which will be covers and originals in Spanish, due for recording and release for later in 2016. Plans to tour some places in the US and some other parts of Europe as well as Ireland are underway:
“Just waiting for some financing to come through,” she comments.
Though most of Louise Phelan’s musical adventures since her youth have taken her far away from her native Limerick City she does endeavour to get back to meet friends and family as much as possible.
She concludes, “I try to get home around New Year’s and sometime during the summer so I can inhale some fresh periwinkle air down by the Diamond Rocks Cafe in Kilkee for a few days so as to get my fix to keep me going till next summer! And of course, have as much time as possible with family and friends.”
See a video of Louise Phelan recording her album, ‘Moments of Light’ made by Jaki Irvine on www.limerickpost.ie. ‘Moments of Light’ is out now, available her website, Amazon, iTunes and Google Play.