Celtic crooner Mary Black still going strong

In town a month ago for her musician brother Shay’s 60th birthday party, Dublin-based diva Mary Black looked fit as a Celtic fiddle at 55.

But she says she has been slowing down a bit, careerwise. Her San Francisco gig Saturday marks her first American tour in three years, she has not released an album of new material since 2005’s “Full Tide,” and lately she has been ditching her bustling hometown for a rustic cottage retreat in rural Kerry, where she has started painting with acrylics.

“I go down there for peace and joy,” she says, sipping a glass of wine. “There’s no television, it’s in a lovely Irish-speaking area that’s steeped in tradition and music, and you can go sit in a bar with six other people and just sing songs and play music.”

Retirement, however, is out of the question, thanks to an unassuming greatest-hits collection, “Twenty-Five Years, Twenty-Five Songs.”

Two years ago, Black was averse to releasing it — she had already put out four.

“Then someone told me, ‘You know, Mary, you’ve lasted for 25 years, so you should really celebrate it!’” she says. “So we brought this album out, and it went straight to No. 1 for five weeks in Ireland, then stayed on the charts for 40 weeks and sold incredibly well. And as soon as I started touring, suddenly we were having these huge sellout concerts with lots of young people coming.”

The two-disc set features remastered versions of the former De Dannan warbler’s crystalline signature tunes — “Sonny,” “Song for Ireland” and “Only a Woman’s Heart.”

“It’s given me an injection of energy, absolutely reignited my career and made me feel like, ‘Wow! There are all these people out there who still like me and want to hear me!’ Black says. “So now I’m even looking at the possibility of recording another album.”

After hearing that fellow countryman Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol praised her recently, she blushes for a minute but quickly regains her composure.

Black will soon record with old friend Sinead O’Connor, and she has been co-writing with her 25-year-old son, Danny of the red-hot Irish outfit The Coronas.

“I’ve been meeting a load of artists like Gary Lightbody who come up to me and say, ‘Oh, my God, it’s so great to meet you!’” says Black, who is considering an album of collaborations with younger artists.

“So I’m not bad, considering,” she says, staring at her empty wine glass. “My health is good; I’m trying to keep fit, and I try to eat well. But I, er, do drink a bit more than I should!”

IF YOU GO

Mary Black

Where:
Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Ave., San Francisco

When: 9 p.m. Saturday

Tickets:
$37.50

Contact: (415) 474-0365, www.bimbos365club.com, www.ticketfly.com

artsentertainmentMary BlackmusicPop Music & Jazz

Just Posted

London Breed, mayor of San Francisco, on May 26, 2021. Black women achieved a historic milestone as mayors of eight major American cities this year and political analysts say the record number points to “the age of Black women in politics.” (Bethany Mollenkof/The New York Times)
Eight Black women who run some of the biggest U.S. cities

By Jennifer Harlan and Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio New York Times… Continue reading

Salesforce Tower and several other buildings in downtown San Francisco can be seen through the fog; climate scientists report that The City’s beloved mascot may be on the decline. (Courtesy Engel Ching)
Is San Francisco losing its fog? Scientists fear the worst

This isn’t just an identity crisis for San Franciscans. It’s an ecological problem

The Bay Area is vying to be one of 16 communities,<ins> spread across the U.S., Canada and Mexico,</ins> to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer championships. Games would be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. (Courtesy Bay Area Host Committee, World Cup 2026)
Bay Area launches bid to host World Cup games in 2026

FIFA officials pay San Francisco a visit as they tour prospective venues

Molly Welton’s 10-foot-long camper, sporting a custom wood window and bar, is stationed by a rusty gas station on Lincoln Avenue near the windblown, sandy expanse of Ocean Beach. (Photo by Paolo Bicchieri)
The spirit of San Francisco is alive and well in Molly Welton’s mobile cafe

California Kahve near Ocean Beach serves coffee and treats with morals and taste

Most Read