Belfast, County Antrim
Praise for ‘Arrow’ (2018)
‘Your new favourite, beautiful album.. 9/10’ Americana UK
‘timeless, noirish and understated folk’ Dancing About Architecture
‘Ciara and her songs carry everything with such conviction, it makes her almost transparent.’ Folk Radio UK
‘A must listen for folk fans’ Hotpress Magazine
The last six plus years have been quite the journey for Northern Irish songsmith Ciara O’Neill. Initially starting out life as a bedroom project, the singer/songwriter began to write material on a modest classical guitar she purchased for the mere sum of £90 as a means of therapy to help guide her through a turbulent time. Realising she had tapped into something special, these tunes led her down a path to creating her debut album ‘The Ebony Trail,’ which she released in 2016, notching up praise from BBC6 Music’s Tom Robinson, Hot Press magazine, Chordblossom.com and more along the way.
As well as the press, music lovers and industry folk from across the globe also sat up and took notice of her haunting folk songs. In 2015/2016 she found herself living in a proverbial suitcase and flitted back and forth to Nashville after receiving publishing interest thanks to a chance meeting at the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival. It was there she sewed the seeds of what was to become her second album ‘Arrow,’ released in 2018 and produced by Michael Mormecha [Malojian, Ciaran Lavery].
Comprising of 10 alternative folk tinged tales, this critically acclaimed record boasts plenty of light and shade and explores themes of loneliness, lost love, anxiety and the dark side of social media while also offering encouragement, comfort and catharsis.
“ Arrow’ was made in a drafty creaky old house in the country,” explains the musician. “This made it all the more special as if you listen closely you’ll hear the wind and the crows squawking outside the studio window.” This album saw a huge step forward for Ciara's career receiving praise from everyone from Tom Robinson, Ralph McLean, Folk Radio UK and Eve Blair who chose 'Arrow' as album of the week on her Radio Ulster show.
In addition to writing solo, Ciara is also a keen collaborator and has worked with many world class songwriters and artists over the past few years including Gary Burr [Christina Aguilera, LeAnn Rimes], Grammy winner Don Henry [Ray Charles, Miranda Lambert], Grammy nominated Drew Ramsey [John Legend, India Arie] Ryan McMullan and Gareth Dunlop.
On the live front, Ciara has lots of highlights too, most notably playing in front of a TV audience of 60 million in the States alongside Grammy nominees Iain Archer and Jim Lauderdale as part of the ‘Music City Roots, Belfast To Nashville’ programme. Her numerous performances at the iconic Nashville venue the Bluebird Cafe also rank high among her ever growing list of achievements as well.
In 2018 Ciara showcased her music at the prestigious Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas City as well as undertaking a tour of the UK/Ire and represented the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in Brussels for culture night 2018.
2019 saw her lend her vocals to 'Bubblegum' a masterpiece creation between Irish songwriters Mick Flannery and Matt McGinn. A beautiful piece about a young girl growing up amidst the Northern Irish troubles. This has led to much acclaim and praise with regular radio plays from Fiachna Ó Braonáin (RTE Radio 1) as well as inclusion in the popular 'Lost in the Woods' Spotify playlist.
This year Ciara has already recorded a socially distanced performance for a short film created with Tourism Ireland and Distant Sky. She will be continuing this ascent with a new single to be released Autumn 2020 and her third album in 2021.