Valerie Armstrong gifts us ‘The Wexford Carol’

A beautiful new version of the classic Irish christmas song, The Wexford Carol from Valerie Armstrong was produced by Mayo’s Ken McHugh.

Valerie’s version will be released on 6th December and she teamed up with the well-known engineer and producer Ken McHugh of Lefthand Productions, Dublin-based for many years, but a native of Bekan in East Mayo.

Ken is from a well-known musical family, and his recording credits include working with Jon Bon Jovi, Cathey Davy, Mundy and Celine Dion.

This song is very special to Valerie, and even more so now. For this release, the Dublin based harpist and vocalist has used a painting by her mother for the single cover artwork.

The painting features St Johns Church of Ireland behind my parents, Leslie and Gretta Armstrong’s house in Lara, and painted by my mother Gretta,” said Valerie.

“Dad was a talented musician and played the organ there. My parents retired to this area in the 1990’s and built a big treehouse for all the grandchildren to play in. This location will always be very special to me, and connecting with this recording makes it additionally special”.

The Wexford Carol will also feature on Valerie’s new album, which is expected to be released late spring 2020

For Valerie Armstrong 2019 commenced with a lovely surprise. James Blake’s label sent a courtesy email letting Valerie know her 1971 version of Fil, Fil A Run O had been sampled for James Blake’s Barefoot In The Park on his new album, Assume Form . In September James invited Valerie as his guest to his performance at Electric Picnic.

Dubliner Valerie recorded Fil Fil a Run O in 1971 when she was just 13 on RTE show Come West Along The Road. The single was subsequently re-released and given promptthumbs up by James Blake. 

Having planned a return to the recording studio anyway this year, the James Blake addition to Valerie’s credits was well-timed, especially when one considers the hugely popular English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer has also worked with the likes of Bon Iver, Kendrick Lamar, and Beyoncé.

Valerie is currently in studio working on the new album with Ken, due out next summer.

Valerie’s last album was 2011’s Time Has Told Me . The album was the manifestation of a long-held ambition and with her children now grown up this was the perfect moment! It also gave us the stunning, Teardrop , Valerie’s inspired cover of the Massive Attack original.

Valerie began singing and playing the harp at twelve, and quickly advanced to an accomplished level, winning many competitions including the All Ireland Feis Ceol in 1972, performing Fil Fil a Run O also! 

At 15, Valerie joined Jury’s Irish Cabaret as part of the Sion Hill Harpists, performing alongside the likes of Hal Roche and Ray Mc Anally. For three years she remained in the Cabaret, studying for exams backstage and after finishing school was chosen to join the renowned musicians at Bunratty Castle.

After two years in Bunratty, Valerie decided to pursue a career of her own. In the subsequent years, she worked as a session singer with numerous artists and producers including Bill Whelan (Riverdance) and Shawn Davey (The Brendan Voyage) before taking time out to raise her children.

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