by Danielle Holian
How and when did you get into music?
Would you believe I started singing lessons at the age of three years old. My older sister was doing singing lessons and I would listen to her practising and learn all of her songs. Her singing teacher came round to our house and heard me sing and decided to take me on for lessons.
My dad is a music teacher so I was lucky to have him teach me guitar and piano. Anytime I needed to ask a question about anything, I had a music encyclopaedia living with me.
You got a first class honour degree in classical singing while attending The Royal Irish Academy of Music. Why did you choose classical music at the time, and has there been any benefits?
When I was doing singing lessons as a kid, all the singing exams were classical. I was in competitions all through my life and always did very well. So I decided to carry on with what I did best. I finished my degree in classical singing in 2011. Unfortunately, I had vocal nodules and needed to get speech therapy for roughly 3 years. But I came back and received the highest mark yet to date in an end of year music recital exam. I was also invited to sing in Edinburgh at a master class by my examiner. I carried on singing lessons for another year with my teacher Kathleen Tynan, but I am now following my own music path.
Who or what are your influences?
I grew up listening to Beethoven, Dusty Springfield and Judy Garland. I have a very strange taste in music as I like a bit of everything. I love Blink 182, No Doubt, Muse, Britney Spears, Celine Dion, the list gets weirder and weirder.
I would have to say I’m very jealous of Ed Sheeran and Adele because they are doing what I want to be doing. I’m working with loop pedals myself which I first saw Katie Tunstall using, but like Ed Sheeran has done, I would love to have my own loop pedal designed…but that may take some time. But he has definitely been an influence the way he performs a one-man show with no band at his gigs. Adele has brought back love songs and I have too many of them, so thanks Adele.
How has being from Ireland shaped your music?
Well everybody loves the Irish so straight away that is always handy. When I’m writing music, I can sometimes hear an Irish Dancing tune, but that could still be from all the Irish dancing feiseanna I went to as a kid. I don’t think I have a typical Irish sound as each of my songs seem to be different genres. I don’t I’ll ever find a genre for myself!
You play many instruments from strings to keys, what is your favourite instrument and why?
Without a doubt, it is the piano! Again we didn’t have iPads as kids but I used to love sitting at the piano and seeing what would happen. The guitar is brilliant for being able to transport it around easily, but no other instrument can beat the piano for me. Variation 14 Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninoff is my favourite piece of music ever. You can make a symphony of sound from just one instrument.
Where can someone view your music?
I am on Facebook, YouTube, Soundcloud, Twitter, Spotify soon. Also, check out my website www.susanmaryward.com.
You perform with “Lost and Sound” regularly, how has this helped your solo performances?
My brother and I started “Lost and Sound” roughly 16 years ago as an original band, playing the likes of Eamon Dorans, Voodoo Lounge etc. I sang and played guitar, and my brother played bass and played bass. In total, I think we went through 11 drummers?!
A few years ago we started it back up as a covers band. Nothing beats a good gig, with everyone dancing to the music you’re making. It has been great for learning how to read a crowd for what to play next, or for talking to your audience. It is also handy for trying out new songs. I sing with other bands as well at weddings and functions. I love singing with a band behind me cause it’s easier without a guitar or piano. It’s fun to move around and I get to perform more.
How did it feel to perform in places like Hollywood and Italy with opera, musical theatre and your own music?
I have been performing since I can remember. All different types and styles of music. But my favourite gig I have ever done was with Lost and Sound when we came 3rd in the Irish Original Band Finals in Vicar Street. Going out and playing our songs, the crowd were amazing, the sound guy that was working that day made us sound unreal! When I first played my electric guitar, I couldn’t believe the way it sounded!I feel very lucky to have performed around the world but I truly love singing my own music and having anyone relate to my songs.
Any last words?
First of all thank you for this interview. I am always happy to talk to anyone about my music. I am currently trying to boost all social media as this is obviously the way to go these days. So please check out my music page on Facebook – Susan Mary Ward Music for all updates and songs. I also work with the Talented Kids Performing Arts School and Agency. So if anyone is looking to get into the performing arts, I highly recommend it! www.talentedkidsireland.com.