Angela Diver - bass, violin, vocals
Joan Diver - drums, vocals
Marie Thérèse Diver - keys, accordion, vocals
Gráinne Diver - guitar, vocals
The Screaming Orphans are four sisters with the good fortune to have been raised in the magic of Bundoran in County Donegal, Ireland.
There is a great tradition of music to be found in Irish homes especially in the Gaeltacht or Irish-speaking areas which have produced the likes of Clannad, Enya and Mairead, Micheal and Triona Ni Dhomhnaill. Our home was no exception. From we were young, we've been singing and playing traditional Irish music but when we hit our teenage years we knew it was time to start our own pop rock band.
Our first gigs were at local surf festivals at Bundoran playing covers. We were soon writing our own music and travelling to Dublin to play the singer/ songwriter clubs including Whelans. At one of these shows we were seen by the director of London based Blue Mountain Music publishing company founded by Chris Blackwell of Island Music and subsequently signed a deal with them.
Our next break came with an invitation to play at a St.Brigid's day concert in Kildare along with truly great Irish artists like Christy Moore, Liam O'Maonlai, and Sinead O'Connor. Sinead then asked us to be her back-up singers and open for her on her Gospel Oak Tour. We went across Europe, America and Canada, and appeared on David Letterman and other TV shows as part of her show and as a band in our own right.
The following year was spent touring with world music star, Babba Maal, singing at his homecoming concert in Dakar, Senegal, and contributing vocals to his album "Nomad Soul." We also recorded with Peter Gabriel and were backing vocalists on the Joni Mitchell track "Magdalene Laundries" for the Chieftains "Tears of Stone" album.
A year later, we signed with Warner UK (WEA) and recorded our debut album in Normandy France with the legendary Mike Hedges, who has been producer for the likes of Siouxie and the Banshees, U2, Manic Street Preachers, Texas, and Travis.
While we can never forget our roots in traditional Irish music, the Screaming Orphans draw on a diverse set of influences ranging from Simon and Garfunkel, The Bangles to The McNulty Family, with a strong focus on melody-driven songs with pop and rocks strains.
Being surrounded by so many different influences has inspired us to explore new and exciting song writing and performance concepts. Our CDs reflect our Celtic roots but cross many cultural boundaries, which might explain why we recorded “Listen and Learn” in France and Malta, "Circles" in Nashville, Tennessee, "East 12th Street" in New York City, "Belle's Isle," "The Jacket's Green," "Lonely Boy," "Sliabh Liag," "Toy Theatre," "Ballads Rule OK," "Dance with Me e.p." in Ireland, and "Taproom" in America.
Screaming Orphans Folk/Irish album "Taproom" charted at No. 1 in the iTunes World Music charts, in the top 100 in the iTunes overall music charts, and in the top 10 in the Billboard World Albums charts. The band was previously nominated by the Irish Music Awards for Best New Irish CD and have won the Top Celtic Rock band category. They were also included on the "Ultimate Guide to Irish Folk" album, which includes tracks from many of their musical heroes. "Taproom" was named 2017 Folk/Pop/Rock Album Of The Year by the Folk'n'Rock magazine.
And if you're wondering about our name... A friend of Joan's (Damien Granaghan) came up with it one night and we loved the name because we were going out on the road on our own and we were leaving behind our Mam who had been our lead singer for years and our Da who was our manager/sound engineer and so we became "orphans." The “screaming” bit is what usually occurs when surrounded by family and we are known to hit certain high notes that could be interpreted as scream-like. That and our secondary school used to be an orphanage so there you have it.
And now that you've gotten a little glimpse in our unconventional lives, we hope to see you at our live gigs, so for a list of our upcoming shows, check out our Tour Dates page.
The four Diver sisters grew up in a family rich with the tradition of Irish Ceili music and song and here is a little bit about their Irish roots background.
The girls maternal grandfather Richard Fitzgerald came from Killenaule, Co Tipperary and grew up in a very musical family of seven. Richard emigrated to the U.S. and met and married the girls' grandmother Ann Begley from Carrickmore Co Tyrone. They settled in Elizabeth New Jersey where the three oldest children were born, Richard Jnr (Richie), Barney and the girls' mother Kathleen.
Ann then returned to Ireland where she raised the family and established a hotel that in the following years became famous as a home of great Irish music and tradition. Richard Sr. who stayed on for a while in the U.S. after Ann and the children returned to Ireland sent home a piano accordion to the family and Richie immediately showed an interest in the accordion. As there was no one around to show him how to play, he worked on it for a while on his own and started to show an incredible talent for music. His mother then put this talent to good use by having him play in the little shop and cafe she had attached to the hotel, the aim was to attract in customers. At this stage Barney had also started to play the accordion and would harmonise with Richie's lead playing.
A talent scout from Belfast who happened to be passing the shop one day, noticed the crowd gathered outside and heard the great music coming from inside. He managed to get in and ordered a cup of tea and spent some time listening to the boys playing. He was at that time involved in promoting Jimmy Shand, the great and legendary Scottish band leader who happened to be touring Ireland. He was so impressed with the playing of both Richie and Barney that he asked them to join the members of the Assaroe Ceili Band (a local group from Ballyshannon) who had been hired as a support act to the Jimmy Shand Band for the tour. This resulted in the Fitzgerald brothers first tour of Ireland.
When this tour ended, Richie formed his own Ceili band 'The Richard Fitzgerald Ceili Band' which Kathleen later fronted as lead vocalist. The band went from strength to strength, so much so that they were voted Irelands Top Band in a competition sponsored by RTE and Michelstown Creameries. The prize was 15 minutes of airtime every week featuring the bands music. This continued for 11 years and subsequently led to widespread acclaim for the band and their music.
The addition of Kathleen as lead vocalist added a new and interesting element to the bands sound. Kathleen's hit song Beautiful Bundoran, written by Waterford native Mai O Higgins, and her renditions of other popular ballads increased the popularity of the band at home and with the Irish overseas. This catapulted the band to new heights which could be seen clearly in the band's constant sold out shows of the late 60's and into the 70's. They recorded for His Masters Voice (HMV), Dublin and Polygram records, performing for both the BBC and RTE TV channels.
Coming from such a musical family background it was no wonder that the girls started playing at an early age. Their early musical training came from the local nuns and this can be seen in the early recordings of Marie Thérèse and Gráinne aged 3 yrs old respectively. Through their mother and uncles they learnt a massive repertoire of Irish folk, pub and ballad songs as well as the music of O'Carolan.
The girls also were exposed to the constant sounds of music in the house as their mother Kathleen continued to make recordings after she left the band so musicians were always down at the house rehearsing and their Uncle Ritchie came down every Friday night to teach them the traditional tunes that had made the Fitzgerald Ceili Bnad so famous. Their dad, who had served in the U.S. army when he was young, also had a large record collection of old time country music collected during the time he spent in the U.S., and these with the traditional Ceili tunes and songs learned from their mother and uncles became the soundtrack to the girls early life.
It was only natural that the girls would form a band of their own and they were named (the very un-original) Diver Sisters. This became their summer job and they played for the tourists in hotels around the county and got a lot of the local support slots to big artists at the time such as Paddy Reilly, The Dubliners and The Furey Brothers and Davey Arthur to name but a few. During this time they also toured the UK, Scotland and Germany extensively with their mother as lead singer and learned many hundreds of songs, including emigrant ballads that were popular at the time with a large amount of ex-pats that came to their shows. This was a great learning curve for the girls and has shaped them into the performers they are today.
When the girls reached their teens they decided that they had outgrown the name the Diver Sisters and so adopted the name The Screaming Orphans and thus the second stage of the band came into being. Although they are known for their pop songs they have never lost touch with their roots and can easily switch from an original pop song into a trad tune or a verse of the Galway Shawl.