About John Whelan: Full Bio (681 Words)
Often hailed as one of the world’s best living Irish button accordion players, seven-time All-Ireland champion John Whelan has been praised for his “humor and high energy blend with impeccable musicianship” by The Wall Street Journal. John embodies the dichotomy of being forward-thinking while still deeply rooted in tradition. He fearlessly explores the creative reaches of music, artistry, and expression while carefully preserving the musical roots from which he originally flourished, and passing those on to the next generation.
John has received the “Musician of the Year” award from the Irish Music Association — twice. He has recorded more than 15 CDs and spent several weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard World Music Charts. He has also appeared on more than 30 albums with other artists, including National Geographic: Ireland. He is celebrated for his duo performances with Grammy Award-winning fiddle player Eileen Ivers, appearing together on stage during the first years of Riverdance, and also for forming the John Whelan Band, which the Cincinnati Enquirer described as playing “music that stretched the boundaries of traditional Celtic.”
In 2023 John resumes a cross-country solo tour he started before the pandemic, which includes performances from California to Maine. Highlights include concerts at Club Passim in Boston, MA, The Plough and the Stars in San Francisco, CA and special performances and workshops as part of the 50th Anniversary North American Convention of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in Washington, D.C. John also leads his second tour as part of the Wild Atlantic Music Tours along the West of Ireland in April and is one of the teaching artists at the 2023 Swannanoa Gathering.
John is also a sought-after composer and producer. He has written more than 65 original tunes, many of which have been recorded and performed by artists all over the world. John’s music has been featured on such TV shows as Sex and the City, History’s Mysteries, and History Detectives, and John himself has performed on Late Night With Conan O’Brien and in films including Ronald F. Maxwell’s Gods and Generals (2003) and Ang Lee’s Ride With the Devil (1999).
In 2020 John was to have celebrated 50 years of playing music professionally by touring through all 50 U.S. states. When the pandemic canceled the bulk of his tour plans, John rushed back home to do a free St. Patrick’s Day concert on Facebook Live instead. Throughout the pandemic, John has hosted multiple weekly livestream series including “Mondays With John,” a “Taking Time” slow session for beginners, and “Whelan Master Sessions,” which have allowed hundreds of sequestered listeners from around the world to listen, learn, and play along in open jam sessions featuring guests including Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely of Lúnasa, NEA National Heritage Fellow Joanie Madden and Mirella Murray of Cherish the Ladies, Patrick Mangan and Haley Richardson of Riverdance, renowned fiddler Brian Conway, with many more to come.
John’s discography includes Pride of Wexford (1974), Traditional Music of Ireland (1974), From the Heart (1990, rerelease 2002), and Passage of Time (2013), which features 33 of his original compositions. He released three albums on the Green Linnet Records label: Into the Light, Fresh Takes (1987), and Digging In (1993). He is also one of the best-selling artists on the Narada label, with solo albums including: Celtic Reflections (1996), Celtic Crossroads (1997), Celtic Fire (2001), Celtic Roots (2002), Flirting with the Edge (1998), Come to Dance (1999), and appearances on Celtic Odyssey (1993), and Celtic Legacy (1995). John is currently hard at work recording a new CD set for release in 2024, and is transcribing his original compositions into book form.
Born to Irish parents living in Dunstable, England, John was raised in the vibrant London Irish music scene of the 1970s, learning his craft from such legends as Lucy Farr, Roger Sherlock, Paddy Taylor, Mick O’Connor, and his teacher, Brendan Mulkaire. John is known for being extraordinarily generous with his music and possesses a rare knack for mentoring and teaching, spotting talent in fledgling musicians — no matter the instrument — and helping them grow to their fullest potential.
Short Bio (167 Words)
For over 50 years John Whelan has been hailed as one of the world’s best living Irish button accordion players. Originally from England and now based on the US West Coast, the seven-time All-Ireland champion fearlessly explores the creative reaches of music, artistry, and expression while carefully preserving the musical roots from which he originally flourished, and passing those on to the next generation.
As a celebrated recording artist, John has recorded more than 15 CDs, appeared on more than 30 albums with other artists, and spent several weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard World Music Charts. John is also a sought-after composer and producer and has written more than 65 original tunes, many of which have been recorded and performed by artists all over the world. He is widely recognized for forming the John Whelan Band, and also his duo performances with Grammy Award-winning fiddle player Eileen Ivers during the first years of Riverdance.
Find out more about John Whelan at www.johnwhelanmusic.com
Updated as of June 2023. Do not alter without permission. If alternate lengths are needed, please contact Leah Rankin at email@example.com