BIOGRAPHIES: The music of Mairéid Sullivan and Ben Kettlewell is a hybrid of soaring traditional Irish Slow Airs, contemporary songs and mesmerizing dance rhythms. Their hypnotic soundtracks form a cocoon of comforting and energizing emotions and imagery.
Maireid is a lover of music and laughter --
a singer, dancer, poet, songwriter, an enthusiastic filmmaker, and a life-long student of history. Maireid was born on a farm in the Bantry township, West Cork, Ireland, the first of seven children. Her father was a master horseman and a fine Irish tenor. Her mother, a health practitioner, taught her traditional Irish songs.
In her twelfth year, her family moved to San Francisco. At age twenty, she traveled to Australia, on holiday with her father, and stayed on. She has been singing traditional Irish songs since early childhood, and many of her original songs celebrate humanity's heritage of joy --particularly as reflected in Irish Celtic culture.
Mairéid is committed to activism through the arts, and curates GlobalArtsCollective.org -- established in 2006 as an arts action auspice for the campaign to protect the Hill of Tara, in Ireland, and re-launched in 2011 to support cultural resilience initiatives.
Before returning full-time to her musical vocation, in 1992, she supported her daughter and three step-children via her arts marketing consultancy, for which she was awarded a Victorian Government grant in 1986. The business, which was launched at the Victorian Arts Center by then Victorian Minister of the Arts, The Honorable Race Mathews and the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Cr. Trevor M. Huggard, supported City of Melbourne and Victorian Tourism Commission Cultural Tourism initiatives. Clients included The Australian Ballet, Victoria State Opera, and many festivals, including five years with Spoleto Festival, as it evolved to become the Melbourne International Festival of the Arts.
In 1995, Mairéid travelled from Melbourne to Los Angeles to establish US distribution for her music, just before the Celtic genre became popular, which led to her remaining in Los Angeles until 2002. During those seven years, she toured extensively and recorded vocals for film and documentary soundtracks, and contributed to best-selling compilations in the Celtic music genre. (Three of her songs were featured on Billboard's World Music Top 10 charts for nine months in 1995/96.) Interleaf Press published Mairéid’s first poetry collection 'Ancient Self - Memoirs' in 1997. Quarry Music Press published her book, 'Celtic Women in Music' in 1999. Her poems, essays and articles have appeared in many publications, including 'Celtic Tides' (1998) by Martin Melhuish; 'My America' (2002) by Hugh Downs; 'Electronic Music Pioneers' (2002) by Ben Kettlewell; 'Celtic Cafe' (2016) by Martin Melhuish. In 2000, Mairéid traveled to Ireland to film interviews with Ireland’s leading women musicians, exploring sources of the wide variety of cultural styles in Irish music. See short film clips here.
Recordings: soundtrack for the award-winning film 'Time after Time' (2005), 'Never Drift Apart' (2003), 'For Love's Caress--a Celtic journey' (1998), 'Dancer' (1994), and 'A Celtic Evening' (1998), a live concert duet with Derek Bell (RIP), former harper with the Chieftains.
Over several years, Mairéid and her partner Ben Kettlewell fell in love with filmmaking. They began filming during concert tours, always allowing time to travel off the 'beaten track', and when they arrived in Australia in 2002, they set up their recording and film editing studio: The Lyrebird Media Studio -- situated on the edge of the “green belt” in North Eastern Melbourne, where they compose music for live concerts, CDs and soundtracks, as well as produce, direct, and edit films...and get their hands into the soil in their organic / BioDynamic veggie garden (see how to construct wicking worm beds).
Their Award Winning first feature film, Time after Time (2005) is the product of over two years full time editing, culminating in excellent reviews and ‘selection' for screening in many international film festivals, winning a Best Documentary Film Award and an Audience Favorite Award nomination. 'Time after Time' was screened in part at the opening and closing ceremonies for the UN Conference on Climate Change in Montreal, Canada (for further info. and to see a preview of the film, click here)
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Ben grew up with his grandparents Wayland and Novella White on the family farm in Belvidere, Perquimans County, beside The Great Dismal Swamp in eastern North Carolina, the traditional home of his Cherokee and Scottish ancestors and home to his relatives today. Ben's Cherokee spirit name (wakan) is 'Running Brook'.
Ben lived on Cape Cod from age twenty, until he joined forces with Mairéid in 1997. He began his professional music career during his teen years, paying his way through art school as lead guitarist in several well-known folk, rock, blues and jazz ensembles. He went on to compose music for theatre, film, and multimedia projects.
Ben has won awards for his original scores for theatre productions with the legendary Provincetown Theatre Company (founded by Eugene O'Neil and "Jig" Cook in 1916). Ben's compositions in the electronic and ambient music genre have been recorded and released on British and American labels.
As well as being an accomplished acoustic and electronic musician, and a celebrated painter, Ben is also a film editor and a webmaster. He has been a music journalist for over thirty years and was a public radio presenter for ten years. His book, Electronic Music Pioneers (2002), Pro Music Press / Thompson Publishing, distributed by Hal Leonard Corp., is based on a WOMR-FM radio series for which he was awarded a grant from the Massachusetts Council for the Arts and Humanities. He is editor of the online music magazine, Alternate Music Press, one of the first eclectic music publications on the Internet.
Ben is currently working on his novel 'The Little Quaker Boy' which tells the story of the migration of his Scottish ancestors to North America from 1585, when John White was the artist and cartographer on Sir Walter Raleigh’s expedition to Roanoke Island and the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Virginia. During this period, John White created a series of over seventy watercolor drawings of indigenous people, plants, and animals, which are now held in the British Museum. Despite their extraordinary significance, the watercolors were not published until the twentieth century.
Ben's book traces the history of some of the first settlements in North America, and gives us a rare glimpse at over 400 years of life through the history of one of America's early settler families. Ben's direct Scottish ancestor, Flora White, a lawyer and a Quaker, and mother of seven sons, emigrated from Scotland aboard an English merchant ship in 1663, and settled in Perquimans County, North Carolina one year after the territory was 'opened up' for settlement. 'Perquimans' means 'Land of beautiful women' and several of her seven sons married Cherokee women. Their descendants were spared from the Trail of Tears evacuation of 1838/39. Several of Ben’s relatives were registered in the Dawes Roll of 1910.
Ben accompanied Maireid when she returned to Australia in 2002...and the rest is history.
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