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A member of one of Ireland's most respected singing families, Dolores Keane is the possessor of some of the sweetest tones in Celtic music. The first vocalist for Irish band De Danann, Keane has sung with the Chieftains and Planxty, as well as with her husband, John Faulkner, and on her own.
Keane's musical career began at a very early age. By the time she was five, she was already singing with her aunts, Sarah and Rita Keane, well-known singers of old Irish ballads. Invited by Johnny Moynihan to join a new band he was forming, De Danann; the experience represented the first time that Keane had sung with musical accompaniment. Keane remained with the group for four years and was featured on their self-titled debut album.
Keane emigrated to England in the late '70s, and married guitar, bouzouki, and mandolin player John Faulkner. In addition to singing together, Keane and Faulkner worked on several documentary videos for the BBC, including one project that entailed conducting research on Canada's Prince Edward Island. Keane's debut solo album, There Was a Maid, released in 1978, featured musical accompaniment by Reel Union, a tradition-based band that featured the late bodhran player of the Chieftains, Peador Mercier, and East Galway fiddler Martin Byrnes. Her second album, Brokenhearted I'll Wander, released in 1979, was a collaborative effort with Faulkner and again featured instrumental backing by Reel Union. Keane briefly joined the Irish trad rock band Planxty in 1983. She returned to De Dannan in the mid-'80s, recording with two different lineups of the group, including the 1987 band that also featured Irish vocalist Mary Black. In 1989, Keane was featured vocalist on the Chieftains' album Bonaparte's Retreat.
Keane and Faulkner collaborated on two additional albums: Farewell to Eireann in 1980 and Sail Og Rua in 1983. Keane's subsequent solo albums include Lion in a Cage (1989), Dolores Keane (1991), and Solid Ground (1993), which featured instrumental accompaniment by De Danann's Martin O' Connor and Jackie Daly on accordion, her brother Sean Keane on flute, and Emmylou Harris on harmony and backing vocals. A greatest-hits collection, The Best of Dolores Keane, was released in 1997; Night Owl followed three years later.
Although she's yet to write an original tune, Keane has displayed impeccable taste in her choice of material. In addition to covering songs by Irish songwriters including Dougie MacLean, Shaun Davey, Paul Brady, and Van Morrison, she has interpreted the songs of North American songwriters (David Mallett, Chris Rea, Kate & Anna McGarrigle) and British songsmiths (Richard & Linda Thompson, Steve Winwood).
On the 1998 tribute album to Pete Seeger, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Keane collaborated with Tommy Sands and Vedran Smailovic for a unique rendition of Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone."