Eileen Ivers was born on July 13, 1965 in New York City. Her parents, Irish immigrants named John and Annie Ivers, raised Eileen and her sister Maureen in the Woodlawn neighborhood of the Bronx, New York. The family spent summers back in Ireland. At the age of 8, young Eileen decided that she wanted to take up the violin, and she began studying traditional Irish
fiddle with Martin Mulvihill, a Limerick
-born fiddler who lived in New York. She was a talented student and a quick learner, and went on to win nine All-Ireland Fiddle Championships. By day, she attended St. Barnabas Grammar School, where she met future bandmate, flutist Joanie Madden. Ivers attended Iona College
in New Rochelle, New York and graduated magna cum laude
with a degree in mathematics. She also completed some post-graduate work in mathematics.
Early Career: Cherish the Ladies and 'Riverdance':
Eileen Ivers began playing Irish music professionally after graduating from college, founding the all-female traditional Irish supergroup Cherish the Ladies
in 1985, with old friend Joanie Madden as well as other New York-based female Irish musicians . By 1994 had released her first solo album, titled simply Eileen Ivers -- Traditional Irish Music
. In 1995, she was asked to join the original touring cast of Broadway's Riverdance
as the primary fiddle
player in the band. She went on to tour with Riverdance for several years before deciding to leave and pursue other opportunities.
Solo Success and Immigrant Soul:
Ivers released Crossing the Bridge in 1999, and eventually formed her band Immigrant Soul, her backup band with whom she released 2003's Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul. The band blends traditional Irish music with Latin and African rhythmic and percussive elements, and has won acclaim from audiences and critics alike for their bold but tasteful blending of influences. Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul frequently perform Irish-themed programs with major symphony orchestras around the world, and they continue to tour as a group, as well.
Ivers's signature blue fiddle was made by ZETA Music Systems.
'An Nollaig: An Irish Christmas' - Album and Tours:
After the release of 2007's An Nollaig: An Irish Christmas
, Ivers laid the groundwork for what would soon become a hugely successful Irish Christmas touring extravaganza. She works with the local promoters in each city in which the tour stops to create an experience that is at once international and local: local orchestras and Irish Dance classes are featured, and the promoters are encouraged to dress the stage in a unique and festive Christmas theme.
Eileen Ivers has been named All-Ireland Fiddle Champion nine times and All-Ireland Tenor Banjo Champion once, making her one of the most awarded recipients of that honor. Ivers won a Grammy Award for her participation on Paul Winter's 1999 project Celtic Solstice.
Collaborations and Guest Appearances:
Ivers has been a guest performer with over 40 major symphony orchestras around the world, including the Boston Pops, the Cleveland Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra. She has additionally performed with a number of rock, jazz, and pop music stars, including Hall and Oates
, Patti Smith, Steve Gadd, Al Di Meola, Terence Blanchard, Paula Cole, and more. She also contributed a track to the Gangs of New York film soundtrack
and the soundtracks of several independent films.
Press Quotes About Eileen Ivers:
""Ivers bridges the gap between her celtic roots and styles ranging from jazz, salsa and flamenco
to rock funk and even electronica." - Billboard Magazine
"She electrifies the crowd with a dazzling show of virtuoso playing …then she focuses her attention outwards to the audience, who shout and cheer and answer her calls in a deafening chorus." - Mary O'Malley, The Irish Times
"At the center of everything, providing both musical energy and a style that constantly pressed against the limits of traditionalism, was the brilliant fiddler, Eileen Ivers. Her originality and rhythmic swing well provide the bridge Irish music needs to break through to a mainstream audience." - Don Heckman, The Los Angeles Times