Originally from Tyrone, singer Kathleen Turner has adopted Limerick as her home since she moved here in 2006 for what was originally only supposed to be 10 months.
Kathleen describes herself as a singer, songwriter and community musician, who fuses her music with a bit of folk and a bit of soul.
Kathleen can’t remember the first time she began singing, but being the sister of award winning singer Juliet Turner, there’s no doubt singing was something that came naturally to the Turner household. “I’ve been singing since always really. Everyone in my family sings so I was surrounded by it at home and at school. My earliest memory is singing along with the TV to ‘Name That Tune’ with Lionel Blair on the BBC… and now I feel old.”
Kathleen thinks that the first album she bought with her own money was a tape of Gloria Estefan’s ‘Cuts Both Ways.’ “I urge everyone to go out immediately and YouTube ‘Get on your feet.’ Brilliant,” she recommends. “The first song I ever learned to play was ‘Sorry’ by Tracey Chapman.
I was about 12 I think, and I was given a wee nylon string acoustic guitar for my birthday. I remember feeling completely amazing, being able to pay a song by myself – just the total biz. I had completely forgotten that lovely memory! Thanks for reminding me!”
One of Kathleen’s favourite things about Limerick is the way that the Limerick people take you into their group of friends, she remembers how she felt such a warm welcome when she first came here, after one gig suddenly she met all these amazing musicians and her career just blossomed from there.
“When I first moved to Limerick, I was doing my Masters at the Irish World Academy and Dave Irwin was in my class. He’s just a gorgeous pianist and guitarist and he was working on Liam O’Brien’s ‘Crooning at Christmas’ jazz show in Dolan’s. Dave told Liam about me, and they asked me to do a few songs. And it just went from there really!”
Kathleen has an impressive career in music behind her already, a credit to how respected she has become in the music community and how hard she has worked since coming to Limerick in. In 2008 she piloted a Sistema inspired initiative in Limerick City for the Irish Chamber Orchestra. The programme, Sing Out with Strings, now provides 300 children annually with free access to singing, song writing and instrumental tuition.
Then from 2008-2014, she was a Community Engagement Manager for the Irish Chamber Orchestra, instigating a number of projects that brought live music into the classroom and community. She continues to work for them as a singing and song writing tutor. Kathleen is the conductor of the BA in Voice and Dance Gospel Choir and the former conductor of the Limerick Gospel Choir and the University of Limerick Gospel Choir.
She is also a vocal tutor at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. Impressively in 2011 Kathleen performed for the Dalai Lama, during his visit to Limerick, as both a singer and a conductor.
Kathleen always finds it difficult to describe her music. “I think I’m a bit of a mix of sounds because I grew up with the whole singer-songwriter folk background, but I also have a huge love for gospel and soul. I used to listen to Aretha Franklin’s ‘Gold’ album on repeat, the entire way through my teens. So…I guess my songs try to bring folk and soul together again in some way.”
Kathleen holds two Masters Degrees from the University of Limerick, an MA in Community Music and an MA in Ritual Chant and Song. She released her debut EP to great acclaim in 2014 and finished a mini tour of Ireland in late January of this year. Recently she performed in The Limerick Lady festival at the Milk Market in June. There’s no doubt that Kathleen’s success will continue on in 2016 as she pursues a PhD in Arts Practice at the Irish Wold Academy of Music and Dance and a new record in the works. Her thesis will explore the role of music in the process of social regeneration. Her PhD is taking priority at the moment so gigs are on hold till early next year. “I’m currently working on a new EP,” Kathleen tells us. “I’m taking my time with it but should be out early 2017.” We can’t wait.
Article By: Sarah Talty
Photography by: Tarmo Tulit
Read more from The Limerick Magazine here.