After 10 years together, The High Kings release their Best Of ‘Decade’, an 18 track collection of their most popular tracks, including five brand new recordings
Ten years ago, Irish record label boss Dave Kavanagh put together a show for broadcast on PBS in America, and four Irish musicians were invited to take part. The show was called The High Kings, and the broadcast on PBS stations across America launched the band onto the music scene overnight
Their self-titled debut album quickly followed and reached an impressive No 2 in Billboard’s World Music Chart. Within a month the four new members– Finbarr Clancy, Brian Dunphy, Martin Furey and Darren Holden – had clicked as a creative unit as well as friends and knew that they were embarking on something special
Each had a wealth of history in the music business behind them, but founder Dave Kavanagh knew that in order to maintain any level of creative interest they would have to boldly go where no other Irish ballad group had gone before. In truth, back in the mid-late Noughties, Ireland needed a group like The High Kings. The heyday of ballad groups such as The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners was a distant memory for generations of music fans, and to have another bunch of Irish lads taking up the baton and continuing the tradition was great news to thousands of fans worldwide
It was during The High Kings second tour of the US in 2011, however – having graduated from playing small venues to larger halls as they promoted their follow-up album, ‘Memory Lane’, which also crashed into Billboard’s World Music chart – that everyone involved realised the fanbase was growing into something that no one had predicted.
The High Kings had achieved what many had thought improbable, if not impossible: they were moving the Irish ballad tradition into the here and now, carrying along with them the steadfast older fans while simultaneously bringing it to a new audience.
More was to come in 2013 with the group’s third studio album, ‘Friends For Life’, which featured original songs among the traditional fare, and was co-produced by Sharon Shannon. This was followed by a two-year tour, culminating in a live CD & DVD release called ‘Four Friends Live’. The group’s fourth studio album, ‘Grace & Glory’, was released in 2016.
To say that The High Kings are charting a new course for Irish ballad music – equal parts rousing and reflective, energetic and insightful – is an understatement. They are, essentially, marking out a new and bright era for Irish folk music.