Cathy Jordan was born in Scramogue, County Roscommon; the youngest of seven children. Her love for traditional singing, and music in general, was instilled at a young age; music and song were abundant in her house as she grew up. Her parents were both singers, as were her siblings, and Cathy herself had a repertoire at the age of three. Alongside traditional music, Cathy was exposed to all kinds of music from the vast collection of recordings that found their way to her house having been sent from relations in America.
She began singing publicly at Feiseanna and concerts as a child; and at secondary school in Lanesborough Co Longford got chosen for lead rolls in musical performances - she was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz; Ado Annie in Oklahoma and Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. On weekends Cathy performed at a wide range of functions from christenings to weddings, and played in numerous bands throughout the Midlands winning The Longford Leader Entertainer of the Year in 1985.
After finishing school in 1988 Cathy kept herself surrounded by music and worked as a DJ on two radio stations, Elphin Radio and Independent Radio Longford, as well as playing numerous gigs at the weekends. She became a pastry chef in 1989 but it was always a means to an end and she could never give up on her first love - music.
She is a self-taught guitar, bodhran, bones and bouzouki player.
In 1991 Cathy joined Sligo-based traditional group Dervish and started her recording career with the band's album Harmony Hill, which received huge critical acclaim. This saw Cathy returning to her traditional music and song roots, sparking off a musical journey which has spanned over two decades. During that time Cathy has been the front woman and bodhran player with the group and has led them through thousands of concerts, in hundreds of cities, in nearly 40 countries.
Some of the more memorable of these were playing at the Great Wall of China, the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and at the biggest rock music festival in the world - Rock in Rio to over 250,000 people.
In 2000 Cathy had the honor of singing with the National Concert Orchestra as part of a show called Waves composed by Charlie Lennon and conducted by Prionnsias O'Duinn.
From 1991 to 2007 Cathy performed on and co-produced seven Dervish albums:
Playing with Fire
At the End of the Day
Live in Palma
In 2007 Cathy and Dervish were asked to perform on the longest running radio show in the US - The Prairie Home Companion hosted by Garrison Keillor to an estimated two million listeners across America. From there they journeyed to China with the Taoiseach at the time, Bertie Ahern, to represent Irish music and culture at a Trade Expo with the aim of enhancing business relations between Ireland and China.
Later that same year Cathy and the group released their eighth studio album, Traveling Show, which saw them dip their toe very successfully into a more contemporary sound. For years Cathy collected her repertoire of songs from various sources: old recordings, manuscripts and traditional archives of older singers happy to pass on their songs to the next generation.
However, folk songs can turn up in all sorts of places, so for the album, with the help of producer John Reynolds (well known for his production work on albums for Sinead O'Connor, Damien Dempsey, John Spillane etc), Cathy breathed new life into the Cher hit Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves, a haunting Suzanne Vega track The Queen and the Soldier, and a brand new song from Canadian- based singer /songwriter Dan Frechette entitled My Bride and I.
Traveling Show also saw Cathy Jordan making her songwriting debut with two tracks Lord Levett and Grainne, the latter a collaboration with Nashville songwriter Sharon Vaughn.
Cathy has since co-written songs with Brendan Graham, Rosey and Susan Mc Keown and was commissioned by the Sligo Co Council to write a song for the Bealtaine Festival Season 09 celebrating the contribution of the older generation in society.
In the couple of years that followed, as well as touring extensively throughout Europe, the US, Scandinavia, and Japan, Cathy and the band accompanied Ireland's president, Mary Mc Aleese, on official state missions to Latvia and Lithuania, representing Irish culture to the assembled business delegation, politicians and state leaders of both countries.
They also found the time to make a series of fourteen, hour-long radio shows for broadcast in conjunction with NPR in the US. These programmes called Irish Heartbeat with Dervish presented by Cathy and with Dervish as the house band, featured special live performances from the cream of Irish talent. Guests included, Brian Kennedy, Moya Brennan, Frankie Gavin, Seamus Begley, Martin O'Connor, Rick Epping, Seamie O'Dowd, The Saw Doctors, Kila, David Norris, Paddy Moloney, John Spillane and the Celtic Tenors, to name but a few. The programs are still being aired in Scotland, Ireland and America.
Cathy also presented the Irish language program Geantrai as a special tribute to the legendary Tommie Makem for TG4, as well as a special programme from the Sligo Live Festival for RTE television.
In 2009 Cathy played and sang on a project called Playing for Change an organization whose self-described goal is to "inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music". The creators of the project, Mark Johnson and Enzo Buono, traveled around the world to New Orleans, Barcelona, South Africa, India, Nepal, the Middle East and Ireland. Using mobile recording equipment, the duo recorded local musicians performing the same song, interpreted into their own style. Among the artists participating, or openly involved in the project, were Vusi Mahlasela, Louis Mhlanga, Clarence Bekker, Tal Ben Ari (Tula), Bono, Keb' Mo', David Broza, Manu Chao and Grandpa Elliott.
2010 marked Dervish's 21st anniversary. To celebrate the occasion they brought out the album From Stage to Stage featuring live concert footage from both sides of the Atlantic with special guests Ron Sexsmith, Duke Special, Vasen, Martin Hayes, Denis Cahill and Mike Marshall.
The anniversary was further celebrated with four very special concerts to bring together musicians from different countries who had inspired and influenced Cathy and Dervish.
The first, at the largest Celtic music festival in the world - Celtic Connections in Glasgow - featured duets with Cathy, Kate Rusby and Moya Brennan as well as instrumental duets with Mike Mc Goldrick, Martin Hayes, Kevin Burke and Sweden's Vasen.
The second, a packed 3,500 seat dome at Shrewsbury Folk Festival also included duets with Steve Knightly, Andy Irvine, Moya Brennan and Karen Matheson.
The third, a sell-out at The National Concert Hall Dublin, saw memorable collaborations with Damien Dempsey, Martin Hayes, Denis Cahill and Triona Ni Dhomhnaill. The final of these celebratory concerts was held at Christmas 2010 in Sligo to a massive hometown audience with special guests Eddi Reader, Tom Baxter, Moya Brennan and Triona Ni Dhomhnaill, plus over 30 other guest singers dancers and musicians.
Cathy also plays in a second group The Unwanted, featuring long-time friends former Dervish member Seamie O'Dowd and multi-instrumentalist Californian, Rick Epping. The group explores the connection between the music of Ireland and America, and how generations of cross-pollination has led to a whole new music that has its roots in both sides of the Atlantic. Their debut, Music From the Atlantic Fringe was released in 2010 receiving glowing reviews. That same year saw Cathy collaborating with Seville folk-rock power houses Rarefolk at a number of concerts, as well as on their most recent album.
Cathy has just finished her first solo album entitled All the Way Home featuring songs from the repertoire of her parents and family, as well as some newly composed songs, notably a co-write with Brendan Graham, best known for writing You Raise Me Up, which is fast becoming one of the most successful songs of all time.
Cathy has a deep understanding of the Irish tradition and is regarded as one of the finest traditional singers in Ireland today.