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Gemma Hasson

From: Park, Co.Derry

Active: 70s/80s

Style: folk/contemporary

Official Bio:

"The county Derry singer, Gemma Hasson, taught herself to play guitar as a schoolgirl, and made her first broadcast on RTE's radio programme, 'The Young Entertainers', in 1971."

"In the years that followed she won many festivals and talent competitions, most significant of which was a small festival in Bellaghy in Co. Derry where the judge happened to be the BBC producer and folk music enthusiast Tony McAuley."

"He was so impressed by her voice and her interpretation that he asked her to record for some of his radio programmes. The first of these was 'The Singing Town', a programme about the musical traditions of Belfast, which was closely followed by 'Slieve Gallion Braes', a personal remembrance by the poet Seamus Heaney of his early life in Co. Derry."

"She very quickly came to the attention of other BBC producers and became a frequent contributor to Pat Lindsay's programmes 'Up Country' and 'What's West?' Another early admirer was the well-known television personality Gloria Hunniford who was working at that time with BBC NI and who included her in her own programme 'A Taste Of Hunni'."

"She also came to the attention of RTE producer Michael O'Donnell and soon became a regular contributor to radio programmes such as 'Music On The Move', 'Here And Now' and 'Looking North'."

"Radio soon led to television. Her first appearance was on the BBC TV 'Gallery' series produced Gerry McCrudden. The programme was called 'A Tribute To Attie', and commemorated the bicentenary of the birth of Edward Bunting, the famous collector of Irish music. This was quickly followed by 'Power To Move', a nostalgic recollection of the linen mills of Belfast in the nineteenth and early twentieth century."

"She appeared twice on George Hewardine's 'Make Mine Country', and was a regular guest on Tony McAuley's Irish folk music programme, 'As I Roved Out'."

"She continued to appear on RTE TV ,on such programmes as 'Open House' with Aine O'Connor, 'The Music Show' with 'Brian Eustace' and ,of course, 'The Late Late Show'."

"She travelled twice to Canada to make television appearances there, the first of these in the 'Ryan's Fancy' series where she was guest performer alongside Tommy Makem. On her second trip she made a total of four programmes along with George Hamilton IV which were shown on Canadian TV and later shown on London Weekend Television."

"As well as performing Gemma composed the theme music for a documentary film by the Derry film maker Terry McDonald. called 'The Secret' which was screened at the Cork International Film Festival and came in for high praise from the jury. This music was later included in a programme 'The Artist's Conflict In Ulster' which was broadcast on the BBC Overseas Network and later on Radio 4. A second film 'Requiem For Sally' for which she also provided the theme music won first prize in the fiction category of the Irish National Film Industry's annual film festival and the Guinness Prize for the best overall entry."

"She also composed songs, best known of which is the lead track from her first album, 'Fincairn Flax', which is often mistaken for a traditional Irish folk tune, and also the final track on her second album, a very moving reflection on the Northern Troubles called 'Who Will Bury The Children?' "

"Right from the start of her career she was very much in demand for live performances. She appeared in all the top venues in the country, alongside some of the most famous performers of the day the RDS (Dublin) with Horslips, the Carlton with The Chieftains and Planxty, the Whitla Hall (Belfast) with The Boys Of The Lough, the National Stadium (Dublin) with Australian star Kevin Johnson, and the Ulster Hall with The Chieftains."

"One of her earliest admirers was the famous Irish promoter Jim Aiken. He was so impressed by her voice and by her performance that he gave her a UK Tour [1973-74] with the Wolfe Tones, Sean Dunphy and Paddy Reilly. In fact, there were very few limitations to the venues and the occasions for which her talents were called upon, from Fashion Shows to the Queen's Festival."

"She recorded three albums. Throughout her career, Gemma never employed the services of a manager or agent, something extremely rare in the music business. She was never at ease with the long-term contracts and the detailed conditions most managers insisted on."

Notes: Gemma Hasson's three LPs mix folk and contemporary material and consist mostly of cover versions. "Looking For The Morning" is the LP most rated by folk collectors. The third album "I've Never Been To Me" suffers many of the problems associated with the era. All three albums have become very hard to find.


• Introducing Ireland's Gemma Hasson
LP - Dolphin Records - DOLM 5009 - IRL - 1974

Notes: Recorded at Eamonn Andrews Studios in Dublin in 1974. Production by Michael O'Donnell.

Gemma Hasson - vocals and guitar
Patrick Finney acoustic guitar, whistle, recorder.
Damian Fannon bass guitar
John Keogh (Greenbeats) piano
Donal Lunny (Emmet Spiceland) bouzouki

• Looking For The Morning
LP - EMI Records - LEAF 7008 - LP - 1975

Notes: Recorded at Dublin Sound Studios, arranged by Paul Barrett, produced by Leo O'Kelly. All covers apart from the last track. The version of "Rosemary Lane" follows Tickawanda.

Gemma Hasson - vocals and guitar
Leo O'Kelly (Tir Na Nog) - guitar, mandolin, fiddle and vocals
Paul Barrett - keyboard, bass, vocals
Donal Lunny (Emmet Spiceland) - bouzouki, bodhran, whistle
Michael Fitzgerald - guitar on 'Rathdrum Fair', vocals

• Thirsty Boots / Galway Races
7" - EMI Records - IEMI 5036 - IRL - 1976 - no PS
Both sides from the 'Looking for the Morning' LP

• The Wild Side Of Life / The Wonderful Soupstone
7" - EMI Records - IEMI 5046 - IRL - 1976 - no PS
Recorded at Dublin Sound, Produced by Leo O'Kelly

• Travelling Salesman / Bucket To The South
7" - EMI Records - IEMI 5090 - IRL - 1978 - no PS
Both sides taken from the LP "I've Never Been To Me".

• I've Never Been To Me
LP - EMI Records - LEAF 7021 - LP - 1978

Notes: Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London, produced by Bob Barratt. Music arranged and conducted by Ed Welch.

Paul Keogh, Chris Ray guitars
Ed Welch keyboards
Alan Jones - bass
Harold Fisher drums
Paul Wilsher steel guitar
Dave Lawson synthesiser
Johnny Van Derek fiddle
Harry Pitch harmonica
Ron Asprey - soprano sax
Sue Martine, Lavinia Rodgers, Martha Smith backing vocals.
String section led by Desmond Bradley.

• Keep Me From Blowing Away / After The Glitter Fades
7" - private - SRTS 83 CUS 1942 - UK - 1983 - no PS
Produced by Mike Jarrett and Clive Culbertson in Cuecumber and Abbey Road studios.

• Southern Dixie Flyer / If I Had My Life To Live Over
7" - private - SRTS 83 CUS 1766 - UK - 1983 - no PS
Recorded in Cuecumber Studios, Belfast, produced by Clive Culbertson.

• Raglan Road / May The Lord In His Mercy Be Kind To Belfast
7" - label? - ??? - 1983? - no PS?
Produced by Lawrence Thompson in Level One Studios Belfast

• Love is the Only Way / Penny Lover
7" - Ritz Records - RITZ 089 - UK - 1984 - no PS?
Produced by Mike Jarrett at Abbey Road

• Southern Dixie Flyer EP
7" - label? - MR 001 - IRL - 1987 - PS
4 track EP combining previously released tracks

• Retrospectives
CD - label? - ??? - 2002
Collects singles and reworked versions of solo recordings made for BBC and UTV.

See also:

Help!: We need your help to complete this entry. If you can tell us more about this band then please do! We welcome any corrections, missing details, connections to other bands, where are they now, etc. We also need photos, scans, copies of releases or live or demo recordings, and any other memorabilia gathering dust in the attic. If you can help, then please get in touch.

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