Sharon Sullivanssullivan@gjfreepress.comGrand Junction Free PressStaff Writer

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October 11, 2012
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Music to Cherish: All-female Irish music band returns to Grand Junction

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -Twenty-five years to the day her father was named world champion accordion player, Joanie Madden won the world championship for best flute player. That recognition led to Madden and her group "Cherish the Ladies" to perform a series of concerts for the Ethnic Folk Arts Center in New York City. The all-female, Irish music band has been traveling the world and playing together ever since. Cherish the Ladies - a name taken from a traditional Irish jig - recently returned from a tour in Ireland where they performed to "packed houses every night.""It's just great, as Irish-Americans to go back, and pack the venues," Madden said. "It's a wonderful experience and an honor."Madden was born and raised in the Bronx by Irish parents who immigrated to the United States.Cherish the Ladies, who will perform in Grand Junction at the Avalon Theatre Wednesday, Oct. 17, is comprised of band leader Madden, who plays whistle and flute; Mary Coogan on guitar, mandolin and banjo; piano player Kathleen Boyle; Mirella Murray who plays piano and accordion; and fiddle player Grainne Murphy.Performing with the band will be world champion Irish dancer Michael Holland, as well as dancers Cara Butler and Jon Pilatzke, both of whom have performed with the popular Irish band The Chieftains for 10 years."We're thrilled to come back to Grand Junction where we've sold out many times before," and performed once with the Grand Junction Symphony, Madden said.The group has performed at concert halls and festivals throughout North and South America, the United Kingdom and Europe, China, Australia and New Zealand. Their newest CD, "Country Crossroads," was released last summer, and includes guest vocals from Nanci Griffith, Vince Gill and Maura O'Connell - "one of Ireland's top singers," Madden said. The CD was named one of the top traditional albums of the year. Cherish the Ladies has a PBS special coming out in March.The group has won numerous awards including Best Musical Group of the Year by the BBC, Top North American Celtic Group at the Irish Music Awards, and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall's International Group of the Year at the Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland.They've shared the stage with such artists as James Taylor, Joan Baez, Emmy Lou Harris, The Chieftains and dozens of symphony orchestras. A collaboration with the Boston Pops Symphony led to a Grammy nomination in 1999. They've even had a street named after them - "Joanie Madden and Cherish the Ladies" became a permanent street sign on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, New York.

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