Singer Róisín O’ Reilly releases Brendan Graham collaboration ‘Hush Be Still’ as Special Christmas Fundraising Single for Children’s School in Syria
Having recorded and toured with choral group Anúna for many years, releasing her debut solo album – Love So Kindly (2003, Universal London) – spent considerable time working with Liam Lawton, and having even performed as a soloist in New York’s famed Carnegie Hall, Róisín O’ Reilly is about to step back into the spotlight. And this time, very much in her own right once again.
The Cavan-born singer – now living in Dublin – hopes the release of her new single, ‘Hush Be Still’, will prove to be a Christmas wish come true for Syrian refugee children. The record is a collaboration between Róisín and revered songwriter Brendan Graham, is released across all platforms today.
Recalling the first time he heard Róisín sing, Brendan said, “Back in the day, I had been at a concert in London, where Róisín had sung ‘Winter, Fire and Snow’ in an audience that included Maggie Thatcher, George Martin, Paco Pena, Hayley Westenra. Róisín completely stole the show and I had never forgotten the effect she had on an audience. So, when the opportunity to work with her again came about after hearing her sing at a funeral – well, it wasn’t even a decision to be made!”
The aim of ‘Hush Be Still’ is to follow on from the success of Róisín’s Christmas release last year, with her O Holy Night raising €49,500 to date for Syrian refugee children. “My wish for this year”, said Róisin, “is that ‘Hush Be Still’ will continue to raise funds that are much needed, and that we’ll reach our goal of €60,000.”
Those funds will be used to support the school for ‘street children’ in south Lebanon, established by Irish priest Father William Stuart. That school provides education for children displaced from their homeland by war, and who now live in the Tyre region of south Lebanon. The song was inspired by an experience Róisín had during Midnight Mass last Christmas Eve.
“At mass, instead of a homily the priest asked the congregation to follow a meditation. We were asked to close our eyes and were vividly led to the stable. I remember the pure stillness in the church. Having been in lockdown most of the year, the words of American poet Madeleine L’Engle’s ‘Into The Darkness’ came to mind, ‘…with no room on the earth, the stable is our heart.’ It was an intimate graced moment and I was lost in it. The memory of that night stayed with me and I knew I wanted to honour it with a song.”
Róisín features on six platinum-selling Irish albums – including one by Ronan Hardiman, composer of Lord of the Dance – and six multi-platinum albums released by the Universal label. She was working on a project with Brendan Graham – the pen behind hits like Eurovision winners Rock & ‘n’ Roll Kids and The Voice, and of course, You Raise Me Up – when she was planning ‘Hush Be Still’. “Brendan is a gifted writer. He captures the essence of a story beautifully so I knew he was the person to write this song with me.”
When the opportunity came about, Róisín asked Brendan to work with her on the song. He liked the idea behind it and agreed to collaborate.
“What intrigued me about Róisín’s idea was the potential to write what could be a straightforward lullaby to the Christchild…a Christmas carol…but a Christmas carol with a twist…a mystical twist. We all, to some extent, move between worlds, time shift in some mysterious, magical way…and the song seeks to explores this possibility – of being actually there, in the stable at Bethlehem on that first Christmas and yet being in the ‘now’ of this Christmas’’.
On that first Christmas Eve, YOU called out to me,
With a voice oh, so clear and so true..
And, I don’t know how, how I travelled from now,
To be with Mary there, holding you?
“The image on the single sleeve”, explained Róisín, “was specially chosen. It’s called ‘Be It Unto Me’ and is by the American artist Liz Lemon Swindle. It is the most beautiful painting I have seen of Mary and the infant Jesus so when the song was completed I contacted the American artist and asked her could I use this image because it so perfectly captures the essence of the song. I am very grateful to her that she agreed.”
“The aim for ‘Hush Be Still’ now”, asserts Róisín, “is that it will take our fundraising to the €60,000 milestone, please God.”
For more information, visit www.roisinoreilly.com