Kay McCarthy – Rianta (2003)

frontcover1Irish born, Italian by adoption, for over twenty years now, Kay McCarthy has been bringing Irish traditional music and culture to Italy. Well-known and highly considered here in Italy, she is appreciated and respected abroad too. Her style is unequivocally her own: unique, refined, communicative it defies all labels and fads and is quite alien to fashion and defies the dictates of the market. An able entertainer, Kay McCarthy draws inspiration from the cultural heritage of her native land which she ably and artistically moulds to give expression to her very own view of the world. Her approach to music and stagecraft is deceivingly simple and magical; in Italy she is seen as one of the most interesting Irish artists upon the international scene. Kay McCarthy

Her repertoire ranges from traditional melodies to songs and instrumental tunes written by herself and her Italian musicians. She began performing in Rome in the seventies when the city’s mythical Folkstudio hosted her on a regular basis and produced her first LP “Roisín Dubh” for the Fonit Cetra Record Company in 1978. Soon after that came her triumphal tour with the Chieftains in 1982 and a new LP “Stormy Lullaby” on RCA International label. The following years were devoted almost exclusively to live performances and to perfecting her performing and stage technique. In 1995 this long experience was channelled into her first CD “Arís” published by an independent Roman label, Helikonia. In 1996 followed “Níl Sé ‘na Lá” again on a Helikonia label. This second album, distributed with one of Italy’s foremost weeklies, Avvenimenti, was acclaimed by critics and the public alike, selling 80,000 copies in one week.

kay-mccarthy01The third CD entitled “Fadó, fadó…” saw the light in 1998 once more for Helikonia and contains finely chiselled interpretations of both traditional and original tunes. Here the exquisite musicianship of her fine Italian classical musicians blend perfectly with her enchanting voice communicating a kaleidoscope of sensations from simple sweetness and to stimulating foot-tapping enthusiasm to the listener.
The Irish artist is supported by a group of first-class Italian classical musicians perfectly capable of rendering both the pathos of the more melancholy songs and the contagious rhythm of the dance tunes.

In August 2000, Kay and the group were hosted by Lorient’s prestigious InterCeltic Festival, there winning the hearts and the applause of the international audiences who flocked to their concerts. For the occasion Helikonia issued a Limitied Edition CD called “Crosaire”. In November 2000 Helikonia released Kay’s new CD called “AM”, distributed by Storiedinote a splendid album containing mostly compositions by Kay and her musicians.
In January 2003, the prestigious Italian musical magazine World Music made a gift of a re-edition of “Stormy Lullaby” on CD to its readers.

Autumn 2003 marked the release of “Rìanta”, tracks, pathways, traces….. by Helikonia, containing thirteen original compositions by Kay and her musicians.

In Summer 2005 the CD “Kay McCarthy live in Rome, Villa Ada”, a limited edition, saw the light. November 2006, Kay and the group joined forces with Chieti’s Marrucino Theatre in writing, producing and staging “RIANTA”, a Musical directed by Kico Fusco. This opera-ballet opened the theatre’s 2006/7 Opera Season.

In 2010 Kay and the Ensemble  released on the Helikonia, Rome label,  a new CD/DVD “Quintessence” containing the best of their songs and tunes.

2013:  the issue of Kay’s first album sung in Italian: “L’AMORE TACE”  a joint Storie di Note- Helikonia publication. (officil biography, take from her website)


And this her 5th album called “Rianta”:

Kay McCarthy’s new album is called Rianta. In Irish Gaelic this word is charged with connotations; the plural of Rian, it means tracks, traces, marks, signs, ciphers, pathways, routes, footsteps. . .

This record assumes particular significance within the 25-year-long career of this Dublin-born artist, Italian by adoption. Here Kay retraces her artistic footsteps, revealing the traces traditional Irish music has indelibly left in her soul, while clearly indicating the signposts leading to pathways as yet to be explored. . . Rianta, in fact!

Kay McCarthy is a musician of absolute value, a powerful communicator, as those of us who attend her band’s performances can easily testify, but she is also – and above all – an artist endowed with an immense creative talent. Rather than build upon the reassuringly tranquil bases of a traditional Irish musical repertoire (in which – obviously – Kay also excels) this record features almost exclusively new compositions. Its spirit remains strongly anchored in the Irish tradition, but it also shows that Kay wishes to reach beyond it. The Dublin-born singer has long assimilated the “signs” of the traditional culture of her native island, shaping them to meet her ends and vehicle her particular view of music and reality. (by Alfredo De Pietra)


For a quarter of a century, Kay McCarthy, born in Dublin and bred in County Westmeath in central Ireland, has been hailed as the spokesperson, if not “ambassadress” of Irish music and culture to Italy, her elective homeland. Critics have long praised her skillful harp-playing and her enthralling interpretation of Irish ballads, rendered mostly in the Gaelic tongue. Lately, McCarthy has even taken to her new role as songwriter and as such has now released a new album, “Rianta”. For this full-length CD, the balladeer has written no less than 14 out of 16 pieces, again most of them in Irish. On “Rianta”, MacCarthy emphasizes her reputat987ion as an outstanding musician and singer, and if her presence on the album is only half as gripping as her widely-acclaimed live appearances, then her concerts must be practically out of this world. (Erik Margraf)


Christiano Brunella (violin)
Guiliano Guerrini (piano, accordeon)
Kay McCarthy (vocals)
Luigi Pignatiello (guitar, vocals on 10.)
Piere Riccardi (bodhran)
Susanna Valloni (flute recorder, tin-whistle)
Fabrizio Bono (violin on 05.)
Stefano Diotallevi (piano on 05. + 06.)
Kico Fusco (vocals on 16.)
Ugo Dorato (piano on 09. + 11)
Silvan0 Presciuttini (keyboards on 09. + 14.)
Annie Robert (vocals on 07.+ 16.)
Matteo de Rossi (guitar on 16.)
Carlo Stoppolini (vocals on 16.)


01. Dailriada (McCarthy/Presciuttini) 3.14
02. Do Chaledonia (McCarthy) 9.56
03. The Captain’s Wife (McCarthy/Pignattello) 3.21
04.Is Ail Liom E (McCarthy/Presciuttini) 2.28
05. Noralai (McCarthy/Pignattello) 6.03
06. Se’n Trua Gan Me (McCarthy/Diotallevi) 3.32
07.Ag Sugradh Leis Am Ngaoth,
08. Pleascain Glice (McCarthy/Stoppolini) 4.28
09. Do Chaledonia (McCarthy) 0.55
10. Should We Two Meet Again (McCarthy/Pignattello) 4.05
11. Mo Ghile Mear (Traditional) 4.25
12. Nothing At All (McCarthy/Presciuttini) 4.57
13. An Druimeann Donn Dilis (Traditional) 1.45
14. Oi Keltoi (McCarthy/Presciuttini) 4.50
15. Do Chaledonia (McCarthy) 0.55
16. Gentle Little Lady (McCarthy/Stoppolini) 4.02