Andy White is a modern-day folk singer who has earned a global following for merging folk and pop music with his poet sensibility. “One of the great Irish singer-songwriters who tours the world with his 12 string guitar in one hand and a book of poetry in the other, Andy has worked with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Sinead O’Connor, Van Morrison and Neil and Tim Finn (Crowded House), been musical director at WOMAD UK, and won Ireland’s top songwriting awards.”
White has produced ten internationally celebrated albums – the latest being Songwriter – released by Judy Collins’ Wildflower Records. It was recorded in Vancouver, featuring Allison Russell (of Po’Girl) on vocals, Paul Rigby (Neko Case/Jakob Dylan) on electric guitar and pedal steel, and John Raham (Be Good Tanyas/Frazey Ford) on drums. Songwriter travels to a new rootsier direction for the Belfast songsmith who has made Melbourne, Australia his home since 2002.
In addition to being a solo performer who travels the world a couple of times a year, Andy was the A of folk super trio ALT along with Tim Finn (T) and Liam O Maonlai (yes, L). The threesome toured the globe and released a studio album ALTITUDE and a live recording BOOTLEG. After Tim introduced Andy to Australia, he returned to write songs with Christine Anu, including Coz Im Free which became Cathy Freeman’s Olympic theme song.
Andy is also one half of Fearing & White, his partner being Canada’s Juno winning Stephen Fearing (also of Blackie & The Rodeo Kings) with whom he recorded their eponymous debut album that was released earlier this year. This spring they played a series of dates across Canada. Andy opened six shows for Judy Collins in Ontario in April, is touring Canada in July, and concludes with a Fearing & White performance at the Edmonton Folk Festival in August.
As MOJO magazine said about Andy, “From rage to sage, it’s not too late to discover one of our best kept secrets.”
Thank you for talking to Press +1, Andy!
There’s not much about your personal history available online so I’d like to ask you a few questions about the early years if you don’t mind.
What is the fondest memory you have of Belfast while you were growing up?
The streets of Belfast – you can leave them but they never leave you. And, to be specific, the street where I grew up. Walking up and down from Number 36 to the bus stop was such a part of my life – to school, band practice, to see shows, girlfriends, football matches. This and coming home to Mum and my sisters. Beautiful.
What artist(s) would you say is responsible for having inspired you to become a singer-songwriter?
My grandmother who played the piano (she came from Co. Cavan was born in 1898 and went to music school in London, raised the family by playing and teaching piano). Recorded artists? Bob Dylan, The Beatles, John Lennon solo, Paul Simon, Burl Ives, the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang soundtrack album.
Who is your favourite poet?
What do you think is the single most significant reason why Ireland produces so many important artists?
Tradition and attitude to language, reverence and respect for the creative arts (not translatable into financial gain, but respect nonetheless).
How would you make a living if you weren’t a musician?
I’d be a writer.
How did you get involved with the WOMAD (World of Music, Arts & Dance) Festival?
Peter Gabriel came to a show I played in Bath, near where he lived at the time. I sent him an album called ‘Out There’ which he really liked and wrote me a letter about it. The songs were long narrative ones (like James Joyce’s Grave) and brave I think to put them out. He dug that.
Your music reflects your social awareness. Is there an issue that you’ve recently written a song about that you’d like to discuss?
‘If You Want It’ is about climate change – it says “If you want it, come and get it, this is the last long evening on the planet”. Living in Australia now, you see the effects of global warming every day.
Where is your favourite place to play in Canada?
Guelph, ON. Red Deer, AB. Winnipeg, MB. Duncan, BC. Saskatoon, SK. I haven’t been to any other provinces yet.
What is it about Stephen Fearing that makes him a good collaborator?
We grew up on the same island 100 miles apart but in different worlds – Belfast and Dublin. We have a lot in common and different skills. We are real friends, not just collaborators – that’s the most important thing.
Who would you like to collaborate with that you’ve never worked with before?
What do you enjoy the most and the least about life on the road?
You haven’t posted a new blog (http://21stcenturytroubadour.blogspot.com/) since April 18th so I’m wondering if there has been anything blog worthy that you’d like to share now?
Read my book ‘21st Century Troubadour’. It’s 90,000 words of on the road fun!
What are your plans for the rest of this year?
After Edmonton Folk Fest I go to Australia until returning to Canada in October to play a Fearing & White tour in Ontario and the East Coast. Then I take Stephen to the UK in October and Ireland in November. The album’s just coming out there then.
Will you be recording another album any time soon?
Yes, at home, so it’ll take ages.
I just ordered your book, 21st Century Troubadour, from your online store but I want to know this now. Why did Johnny Depp buy you a beer at Peter Gabriel’s place?
Yes. But why you’ll never know.
Keep up with Andy online at: