Colum Sands

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Colum Sands
Colum Sands, Costa del Folk, Portugal, October 2016 (30256671605).jpg
Background information
Birth nameColum Sands
OriginMayobridge, County Down, Northern Ireland
GenresIrish Folk, Celtic
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, radio broadcaster
Years active1970s-present

Colum Sands (born 1951) is an Irish singer songwriter who made his first performances and recordings with The Sands Family of County Down. Between his extensive solo appearances he continues to record and perform with his brothers Tommy and Ben and his sister Anne in the family band.

Following appearances throughout Europe and North America in venues ranging from small folk clubs to Carnegie Hall New York City, in 1981, Sands set up the independent record label, Spring Records, with a recording studio at his home in Rostrevor, County Down.

He has produced around one hundred albums, working with young traditional musicians, songwriters and bands, ranging from first time recording artistes like Cara Dillon and Oige, Deanta, Neil Mulligan and Kieran Goss to veteran performers including Joan Baez, The Sands Family, Liam O'Flynn, Vedran Smailovic and Pete Seeger.

Sands has released eight albums featuring his own songs[1] and a songbook titled Between the Earth and the Sky[2] illustrated by Colum McEvoy.

As well as performing his own songs, Sands has translated Goethe into English (recording a bilingual version of "Nähe des Geliebten" with Berlin singer Scarlett Seeboldt), worked and toured in the Middle East with Israeli story teller Sharon Aviv on the English/Hebrew peace initiative production "Talking to the Wall" and translated Scottish Gaelic songs into English on his collaboration with Scottish singer and harper Maggie MacInnes.

His own songs have been translated into German, Dutch, Danish and Hebrew and have been recorded by many artistes including Maddy Prior, June Tabor, Liam Clancy, Tommy Makem, Roy Bailey, Andy Irvine and Mick Hanly.

Apart from songwriting and studio production, Sands has worked in a number of theatrical collaborations and his involvement as a musician with the Lyric Theatre (Belfast) in 1976 found him working with Liam Neeson in the Patrick Galvin play We Do it for Love.[3] He has also composed music for Community Playwright Patch Connolly's plays, The Fair Day and The Square.

Sands is also well known as a radio presenter, from the 1990s until 2016 he presented Folk Club,[4] the popular weekly programme on BBC Radio Ulster. He has also compiled and/or presented radio programmes for BBC Radio 2 (Shifting Sands) RTÉ Radio 1 (Rootin' About.) and BBC Radio 4 "The First LP in Ireland".[5]

Sands received a Living Tradition Award for his services to Folk and Traditional Music[6][7] and his song, "Donegall Road" was included in the Smithsonian Institution's album Sound Neighbours,[8] which received three shortlisting nominations for the 2008 Grammy Awards.


The Sands Family at the Bardentreffen festival 2014

Studio albums[edit]

  • 1981: Unapproved Road, Spring Records SCD 1001
  • 1989: The March Ditch, Spring Records SCD 1014
  • 1996: All My Winding Journeys, Spring Records SCD 1035
  • 2003: The Note That Lingers On, Spring Records SCD 1051
  • 2009: Look Where I've Ended Up Now, Spring Records SCD 1059
  • 2013: Turn the Corner, Spring Records SCD 1062
  • 2020: Song Bridge, Spring Records SCD 1067

Live albums[edit]

  • 2007: Live in Concert Songs and Stories, Spring Records SCD 1054


  • 2002: Talking to the Wall – with Sharon Aviv, Spring Records SCD 1048
  • 2011: The Seedboat (Bàta an t-Sìl) – with Maggie MacInnes, Spring Records SCD 1061

Other Appearances[edit]

  • 2007: Sound Neighbours: Contemporary Music in Northern Ireland, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings SFW40544
  • 2009: Dear Irish Boy – Marianne Green with Andy Irvine, Glas Records MEGCD02


  • 2000: Colum Sands Songbook Between the Earth and the Sky, Cottage Publications


  1. ^ "Colum Sands biography". Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  2. ^ Sands, Colum (1 October 2000). Between the Earth and the Sky. Cottage Publications. ISBN 978-1900935197. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  3. ^ Baker, Richard Anthony (23 May 2011). "Obituaries: Patrick Galvin". The Stage.
  4. ^ "Folk Club". BBC Radio Ulster. Archived from the original on 24 February 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  5. ^ "The First LP in Ireland". BBC Radio 4. 8 May 2012. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  6. ^ "Home - Acoustic Showcase NI". Acoustic Showcase NI. Archived from the original on 4 December 2011. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  7. ^ Lappin, Clare (10 July 2009). "Bogle, Bailey and Sands become Patrons of Common Ground". Living Tradition. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  8. ^ "Sound Neighbours: Contemporary Music in Northern Ireland". Amazon UK. 2007. Archived from the original on 28 December 2017. Retrieved 17 May 2022.

External links[edit]