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Norah Rendell: Song, flute, whistle

guest musicians

Brian Miller: guitar/bouzouki/mandola.

Randy Gosa: guitar/mandola/

Ailie Robertson: harp

Daithi Sproule: guitar

Adam Kiesling: bass

Norah Rendell Biog

'Rendell's vocals are a revelation — pure, strong, and expressive. ' Rob Weir, SingOut! Magazine

Norah is a singer, flute player and whistle player who specialises in the traditional folk songs and dance music of Ireland and Canada. For the past 15 years, she has toured internationally with several ensembles including seven years as lead singer and flute player for the award-winning group, The Outside Track . She has also performed with the Two Tap Trio (St. Paul), the Máirtín de Cógáin Project , the Canadian folk string quartet called the Fretless and Paddy O'Brien's Doon Ceili band in Minnesota.

In the past five years years, Norah has built a reputation for herself as a solo artist. She was nominated for 'Best Traditional Singer of the Year' by the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2009 and was named 'Best Vocalist of the Year' by the Live Ireland Awards in 2011 and 2012. She has been featured as a soloist at the Celtic Connections festival in Cape Breton, Pierre Schryer's Canadian Celtic Celebration in Thunder Bay and at the Celtic Junction in Saint Paul.

Norah's performances have been featured live on MPR's Heartland Radio, CBC's Canada Live, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Scotland and Radio nan Gaidheal. Her recordings have been broadcast on the CBC, BBC, RTÉ Radio na Gaeltachta (Ireland) and on folk shows across Canada and the United States.

Norah is passionate about exploring the traditional music of her native country, Canada, and has been researching and learning rare songs from field recordings made in Canada during the 1950's folk revival, many of which have roots in Ireland and Scotland. She is in collaboration with Bush fellow Dáithí Sproule, guitarist Brian Miller, multi-instrumentalist Randy Gosa and harpist Ailie Robertson to arrange this exciting new body of material.

Norah has a Masters in Irish Traditional music performance from the University of Limerick and a Bachelor of Music degree in Early Music Performance and Music Education from McGill University. She has given guest lectures and workshops at University College Cork, the University of Limerick, The Folk Steps Conference in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and has taught numerous workshops in Irish song, flute and whistle at festivals throughout North America and Europe.

Norah moved to Ireland in 2005 to complete a Masters degree in Irish Traditional Music Performance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in Limerick. During that time, she co-founded the award-winning Celtic band, The Outside Track with whom she recorded three critically acclaimed albums and toured 70-100 dates a year in North America and Europe.

More detail at


The Carrion Crow:

Pretty Susan:

St Patrick's Day:

Track Listing

  1. Letty Lee
  2. The Sailor's Bride
  3. The Carrion Crow
  4. Lost John Whelan
  5. The Pinery Boy
  6. Pretty Susan, The Pride of Kildare
  7. Biddy Rooney
  8. Sir Neil & Glengyle
  9. St Patrick's Day
  10. Here's A Health Unto All True Lovers
  11. Fourty Fishermen
  12. When I Wake In The Morning

Press Reviews

The Irish Post

IT IS amazing how many of the current crop of folk and traditional musicians and singers have connections to the University of Limerick.

Vancouver-born singer/flute/ whistle player Norah Rendell has a Masters in Irish Traditional Music Performance from the University having spent two years there.

She has given lectures and workshops at University College Cork and Limerick and has taught numerous workshops in Irish song, flute and whistle at festivals throughout North America and Europe.

For the past 15 years, Norah has toured internationally with several ensembles and is no stranger to this column as she was lead singer with the award-winning Outside Track.

For the past five years she has been building quite a reputation as a solo singer and was nominated for Best Traditional Singer of the Year by the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2009.

She was also named Best Vocalist of the Year by the Live Ireland Awards in 2011 and 2012. Now based in Minnesota where she is the Executive Director of the Centre for Irish Music she has a new solo album, Spinning Yarns , due for release this month.

The 12 tracks are a collection of traditional songs featuring material learned and collected from Canadian singers of Irish, Scottish and English descent. Norah Rendell is a Canadian who has immersed herself in Celtic music and song.

Spinning Yarns is a lovely album, a fine collection of traditional songs played and sung with real style sincerity and an obvious love for the material by a very talented woman with the help a few well-chosen friends who share her enthusiasm. Joe Giltrap

The Huffington Post

But I mostly wanted to highlight other Irish connections waiting among the CDs on my review shelf. I'll begin with Spinning Yarns , the brand-new solo CD from Norah Rendell , a former member of the international Irish band The Outside Track and a current member of Twin Cities band Two Tap Trio . Her goal for the CD was to "feature the songs of Canadian singers of Irish, Scottish, and English descent for whom old songs provided connection to memories of special times, people, and places." To accomplish this, she did extensive research into archival collections and found some truly lovely texts and melodies. The star source singer of the album turns out to be Angelo Dornan, a New Brunswick singer recorded by Helen Creighton in the 1950s ( hear his singing here ). Dornan's repertoire included a lot of terrific and unusual songs, including the album's opener, "Letty Lee," which details the courtship of two unusually eloquent and witty lovers. Rendell sings three more of Dornan's songs, and also mines collections by MacEdward Leach (Newfoundland), W. Roy MacKenzie (Nova Scotia), Edith Fowke (Ontario), Sidney Robertson Cowell (Wisconsin), and Franz Rickaby (Wisconsin). While paying all due respect to the sources, Rendell wasn't afraid to combine elements of her favorite versions, adhering to her strong personal vision of Canadian (and sometimes American) tradition, based solidly in old-world folksongs.

Like Carlos Núñez, Rendell was an early music recorder major at university before becoming a Celtic musician, and this must have helped her ear for arrangements and her skills on flute and whistle, which add to the impressive talents on the disc. Using these skills, she took her newly-polished gems and set them in arrangements featuring guitar and bouzouki from her husband Brian Miller, guitar and mandola from Randy Gosa, Celtic harp from Ailie Robertson, and her own flutes, whistles, and harmonium. This work has everything: traditional songs I can't remember hearing before ("When I Wake in the Morning," "St. Patrick's Day"), unusual versions of favorites ("Here's a Health Unto All True Lovers," "Carrion Crow"), sparkling arrangements that complement each song, and thoughtfully written notes that honor the source singers, collectors, and musicians. And I haven't even mentioned her clear, expressive singing, which is among the best on today's Celtic folk scene. It all adds up to a brilliant album I could listen to all day--in fact, I just have!

Spinning Yarns is a collection of traditional songs mostly harvested in eastern Canada from Newfoundland southwards. Two actually surfaced in Wisconsin but they passed through Canada to get there. Norah is probably best known in Britain as a member of The Outside Track and it's good that her other projects are beginning to appear here.

Norah's sound is gentle and pastoral with Brian Miller and Randy Gosa on guitars, mandolas and bouzouki and fellow Tracker Allie Robertson on harp. Dáithí Sproule guests on one song. Norah herself plays flute, whistles and harmonium and her vocal style is strong but unfussy — she lets the songs tell their own story.

I'll leave it to the folklorists to trace the origins of some of the songs back across the Atlantic although some are obvious. 'The Carrion Crow' is immediately familiar — it's just the words and tune that have changed over the course of its long journey. 'Here's A Health Unto All True Lovers' is a classic night-visiting song complete with crowing cocks and lily-white breasts. 'The Pinery Boy', one of the Wisconsin songs, was originally 'The Sailor Boy' with elements of 'A Sailor's Life' and follows the well-known story of a young woman going to sea in search of her true lover only to find that he has drowned. In contrast, 'Sir Neil And Glengyle' is a Scots ballad, pretty much unchanged and is of a type of song that had already fallen out of favour when it was recorded in Nova Scotia in 1909.

At the risk of continuing to bore our readers, I will say that there is clearly a huge supply of traditional song collected in Canada over the last century and which is only now appearing here in the UK. Spinning Yarns may be seen by some as a bit pastoral but within it is a variety of songs that reward repeated listening. Dai Jeffries

FolkWords Reviews (March 23, 2015)

'Spinning Yarns' by Norah Rendell - an important custodian of heritage

This lady has pursued her musical trade as a singer, flute and whistle player, worked with bands, in trios and duos, and built a solid reputation as a solo artist. Now with 'Spinning Yarns', Norah Rendell combines her talents with those of Brian Miller, Randy Gosa and Ailie Robertson, with Dáithí Sproule and Adam Kiesling, to revisit a selection of traditional folk songs of Canada recalling influences gleaned from Ireland, Scotland and England. Old songs evoke memories of times, places and people, and keeping them 'alive' not only retains meaningful links with heritage, it some small way it helps to anchor nations and peoples.

Exploring the traditional music of her native Canada, researching the roots and stories behind rare songs coupled with an enduring passion for conservation as much as innovation, Norah not only keeps memories fresh but invigorates them with new life. The simple fact that young musicians exhibit a genuine feel for these songs is enough to ensure their continuance. Through a the multi-versioned, multiple-titled, 'The Sailor's Bride' and yet another 'original meaning lost in time' song 'The Carrion Crow' to this version of 'Lost Jimmy Whalen' and the much-travelled song 'The Pinery Boy' to a re-tuned take on 'Biddy Rooney' and the Scottish broadside 'Sir Neil and Glengyle' this album is a venture into tradition.

'Spinning Yarns' rightly deserves a place among the annals of Canadian music, standing as an important custodian of heritage. For added pleasure the album comes complete with comprehensive notes on the sources, known origins and compositions for the songs. Reviewer: Tom Franks

Selected quotes

'A fine singer of traditional ballads.' Alex Monahan, Living Tradition

'Rendell's vocals are a revelation — pure, strong, and expressive.' Rob Weir, SingOut! magazine

'Norah Rendell takes lead vocals with calm authority' Colin Randall, The Telegraph, UK

'Wait There Pretty One shows a brilliant musical technical combination of the best of the Irish traditional approach and Norah's stunning, purely Canadian voice.' Bill Margeson, Live Ireland

'A fabulous lead vocalist' Dal Jeffries, Rock 'n Reel magazine

'Brings sunlight into your heart and sets your feet a-dancing.' The Munster Express, Ireland

'Her singing left me goose-pimpled all over — a sure sign of a gutsy, emotional delivery laced with meaning and pathos' Fred Silver, The Stornoway Gazette

'Norah is an exceptional singer. A true standout, but she's also a great flute player.' SingOut! magazine

Price: £13.99

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