Bound For Canada is a gala concert bringing together celebrated musical talent from Ireland and Canada.

Blending classical and traditional Irish music, the original orchestral score was created exclusively for Canada Ireland Foundation by renowned composer Odhrán Ó Casaide.  The music is a tribute to the resilience of the country’s Irish ancestors. This one-of-a-kind concert takes place this coming Thursday, March 9, at the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto, and features an array of musical talen, including Irish soprano Sibéal Ní Chasaide. Recently we caught up with here.

What are your roots?
I come from a small Gaeltacht in County Meath called Ráth Chairn. A Gaeltacht is a place where the locals speak fluent Irish and I’m very lucky to have been raised there. There aren’t many Gaeltachts in Ireland, so I think that my upbringing was very special in that way. I grew up with friends and family who all spoke Irish fluently and I’ve carried all those experiences from that small town with me. There is also a strong tradition and culture where I grew up and it’s there that I learned my style of singing and music. In Ráth Chairn it’s assumed that everyone can sing so you can’t say no if they ask you to sing a song in the pub. Most of my friends are singers and musicians and it shows the rich culture that blossomed in that area.

Where do you currently reside?
I’m currently living in Galway City as a college student. I moved away from home about 4 years ago to study medicine in Galway and I’ve been here since. Since Ireland is such a small country, I’m able to visit home most weekends as it’s only a couple of hours to get from the west back to the east.

When and why did you start singing?
I can’t remember when I first started singing but my earliest memories are of my dad teaching me Irish songs at around 3 years old. My dad comes from a very musical family and was raised with music and Irish as a natural and essential part of life. He and his siblings passed that culture down to the next generation and for that reason our entire extended family play instruments or sing both for fun and professionally. I started to go to formal Sean nós singing lessons at the age of 5 with my primary school teacher who was from Conamara. She taught me the old style of Irish singing and I’ve been singing it ever since.

Are they the same reasons you do it today?
My career evolved very naturally and was never planned at any one point in time. I started off doing small local singing competitions because all my friends were doing them, and they were always very fun more than anything else. Then eventually I began to get asked to do professional concerts for different events and each event got bigger and bigger and brought me to where I am today. My dad always told me never to say no when someone asks me to sing whether it’s in a small pub or whether it’s on a big stage. That’s how I progressed through my career. It’s important to me now that I can represent the old style of Irish singing and bring it to a new and wider audience than before. I want people to recognise that there are young people in Ireland who care deeply about their culture, language and past.

What are the challenges involved with the vocation?
Being that I am a full-time medical student sometimes it is hard to balance both aspects of my life. But I plan to continue to do both for as long as I can and enjoy them.

What are the rewards?
It is so rewarding to hear how my songs and voice have touched people over the years. When I get messages on social media about personal stories about how I’ve touched their lives it makes me realise how important music is in this world.

How have you evolved as an artist over time?
I have definitely evolved over time as an artist. I have been influenced by different artists and song writers around the world and I’ve started to release my own songs as well as singing sean nós. I released my first original song in August 2022 called ‘Twilight Lavender’. It’s so special to be able to release something that is created by your own thoughts and melodies.

What have been some career highlights?
I’ve travelled to New York, Toronto, Sydney, London, and many more to share my music with people. Music is a great way to see the world and I’m so grateful to be able to share my music with such a wide audience of people. I also think releasing my first album ‘Sibéal’ was a huge highlight in my career. It was a very special time to be releasing a debut album after the 1916 celebrations in Ireland commemorating our history and past. There was a great appreciation at the time for our culture and where we came from. It was an honour to be able to be a part of those celebrations and sing the words of Pádraig Pearse in the song ‘Mise Éire’ composed by Patrick Cassidy on my album.

What makes a good song?
I think what makes a good song is the details within it that makes the listener know that it’s true. I love when I’m listening to a song and hear a random detail that could only have been written by the person the experience actually happened to. Lyrics are very important to me and having the right melody to illuminate those lyrics is crucial. My songwriting process is very basic. It’s just sit down and see what comes out.

What makes a good live show?
I think these days people want to know who they’re listening to and who the real person is behind the voice. Now more than ever I think it’s important to be authentic when you’re on stage and show the audience the parts of you that are real and the stories behind each song. That’s what I find interesting.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the Irish music scene?
The Irish music scene is thriving in Ireland. It’s a great culture to be a part of and I’m so proud to be a part of it.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact you, both personally and professionally?
Personally, the COVID-19 pandemic was a very quiet and reflective time for me. I got the opportunity to recharge and spend time with family which is the most important thing to me. I was so lucky to have a safe place and bubble to hide away in which I know isn’t the case for everyone. It was an important time to be grateful for all the small things in life we may take for granted like our health, family and a warm and safe home. Professionally, all concerts were cancelled but I was able to be a part of so many amazing projects during that time. I released a cover of ‘Dreams’ by the Cranberries with the amazing Irish female group ‘Irish Women in Harmony’ and raised money for safe Ireland during lockdown. Meting those women and being a part of a strong and successful group of Irish female artists was the highlight of the entire pandemic for me.

What advice might you have for younger people looking to enjoy a career in music?
I would advise any young person who wishes to pursue a career in music to trust in their beliefs and what they want to share with the world. Nothing happens overnight and it’s important to celebrate and focus on the small victories. Someday you’ll realize you came a very long way without even knowing it.

What’s on your musical agenda for 2023?
I can’t wait to be back in Toronto and to perform there again. I hope to keep making music and perform around the world and I can’t wait for the adventures ahead.