Solas (group)

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Solas live in 2010
Solas live in 2010
Background information
OriginPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Years active1996–2016
LabelsCompass Records
Shanachie Records
MembersSéamus Egan
Winifred Horan
Mick McAuley
Éamon McElholm
Moira Smiley
Past membersKaran Casey
John Williams
John Doyle
Deirdre Scanlan
Donal Clancy
Máiread Phelan
Niamh Varian-Barry
Noriana Kennedy

Solas (Irish: ‘light’) was an American musical group officially formed in 1996, playing Irish traditional music as well as original compositions influenced by the country, rock, and Americana genres.[1] With several members who are prominent performers, both solo and in other constellations in the Irish traditional music scene, Solas has been described as a "Supergroup".[2] Their name comes from an Irish word meaning "light".

Prior to their self-titled debut album’s 1996 release, the idea for a band was conceived by multi-instrumentalist Séamus Egan, an Irish champion flautist and multi-instrumentalist who had already recorded two solo albums and a soundtrack to a film (as well as having composed “I Will Remember You”, performed by Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan).[3] He was soon joined by his friends, vocalist Karan Casey, from Waterford, and fiddler Winifred Horan, from New York. Guitarist and vocalist John Doyle, previously a member of Susan McKeown & The Chanting House, soon joined the trio, along with Chicago-based accordionist John Williams.

After the release of their self-titled debut album (1996) and Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers (1997), Williams would depart the band to focus on solo projects, being replaced by accordionist and concertina-player Mick McAuley from Cavan (who would ultimately remain with the group). After completing their third record, The Words That Remain (1998), Karan Casey would leave Solas to focus on her own solo ventures, with Deirdre Scanlan joining as vocalist for their fourth album, The Hour Before Dawn (2000). Guitarist Donal Clancy (son of Liam Clancy) would briefly replace John Doyle for one album, The Edge of Silence (2002) before the group was joined by Éamon McElholm on guitar.

After eight successful years, Deirdre Scanlan retired from the band in June 2008. Solas then welcomed Máiread Phelan, the featured vocalist on their record For Love and Laughter (2008). Two years later, in September 2010, Niamh Varian-Barry[4] from Cork replaced Phelan as vocalist.[5] Then, on 11 July 2013, Solas announced via Facebook that Varian-Berry was leaving the band, with Noriana Kennedy replacing her.[6] The band announced an indefinite hiatus in early 2017.[7]


  • 1996 — Solas
  • 1997 — Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers
  • 1998 — The Words That Remain
  • 2000 — Solas: Live! (VHS/DVD)—recorded on St. Patrick’s Day 1998, live at the Flynn Theater, Burlington, Vermont. Featuring behind-the-scenes interviews and rehearsal footage, this recording also aired on PBS as part of a St. Patrick’s Day special in 2000.
  • 2000 — The Hour Before Dawn
  • 2002 — The Edge of Silence
  • 2003 — Another Day
  • 2005 — Waiting for an Echo
  • 2006 — Reunion: A Decade of Solas
  • 2008 — For Love and Laughter
  • 2010 — The Turning Tide
  • 2013 — Shamrock City
  • 2016 — All These Years


  1. ^ Geoff Wallis, Sue Wilson. 2001. The Rough Guide to Irish Music. Rough Guides, Limited, p. 2036
  2. ^ Sean Williams. 2013. Focus: Irish Traditional Music. Routledge, p. 252-254
  3. ^ "John Williams". Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  4. ^ "Niamh Varian-Barry". Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  5. ^ "Compass Records". Compass Records. September 21, 2010. Archived from the original on July 7, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  6. ^ "Solas - Important News from Solas: It has been a joy..." Facebook. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  7. ^ "Solas says it's time to say 'goodbye for a while' But not before a show in Beverly this month, and a five-week tour". Boston Irish Reporter. Retrieved March 27, 2019.

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