Legendary Irish Singer-Songwriter & Peace Activist
Tickets: $27 General Admission / $24 Advance / $40 Gold Circle
Location: The Addy at Proctors
“One moment my tears were of sorrow, the next moment they were tears of joy, his songs are unforgettable stories”
- RADIO LEIPZIG (Germany)
He is, and the world knows this, the bard of peace”
- Pulitzer Prize winner Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes)
Tommy Sands, iconic County Down singer, songwriter, radio broadcaster and social activist, in his lifetime has achieved something akin to legendary status in the U.S. and Ireland and beyond in his own lifetime - very much deserved. .
He was born just outside of Newry in the foothills of Ireland’s Mourne Mountains. The Sands family was immersed in folk music - his father played the fiddle and his mother the accordion. During the ‘60s and ‘70s he was the chief songwriter with the Sands Family, a group including brothers Colum, Ben and the late Dino Sands, and sister Anne, performing from Carnegie Hall to Moscow’s Olympic Stadium, and evolving into one of the most powerful singer-songwriters and enchanting solo performers in Ireland today.
He also hosts the popular radio show, “Country Ceili,” broadcast weekly via Belfast’s Downtown Radio since 1976.
Although constantly performing on stages all around the world he prides in taking his music down from the lights and into the darker corners of society. One of his projects, teaching underprivileged prisoners in Reno, Nevada to write their own song with which to defend themselves in court, created a widespread stir in the world of community art in the United States. Back home in Northern Ireland during “The Troubles,” he produced a heart-wrenching CD written with Protestant and Catholic schoolchildren about their own homes, towns and villages around Northern Ireland. During the Good Friday Agreement Talks, his impromptu performance with a group of children and Lambeg drummers was described as “a defining moment in the Peace Process” by Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon. He does have a way of getting the attention of politicians.
“Tommy Sands is the only man, without a private army, who can intimidate me” -DAVID IRVINE (coaxed onstage to sing with Sands)
He was onstage for Pete Seeger’s 90th Birthday at Madison Square Garden, performing alongside the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Joan Baez and a host of other American folk stars singing for his longtime friend, with whom he wrote ‘The Music of Healing,” which became an anthem for the Northern Ireland Citizen’s Assembly. His songwriting drew the admiration not only of Seeger, but of the late Nobel Poet Laureate Seamus Heaney, and prompted Sing Out magazine to regard him as "the most powerful songwriter in Ireland, if not the rest of the world."
His original songs like the magnificently poignant “There were Roses,” and “Daughters and Sons” have been recorded by Joan Baez, Kathy Matthea, Dolores Keane, Sean Keane, Frank Patterson, Dick Gaughan, The Dubliners and many others, have been translated into many languages, and are currently included in the English language syllabus in German secondary schools.
Onstage, he is a warm and fascinating storyteller, singer and guitarist, with a soft-spoken voice belying his outsized musical and political influence over the years. When performing on our stage, he often brings along film footage of his native Ireland, conjuring Irish life sometimes bucolic and often darkly poignant.