It is no surprise that Irish-born singer Fiona Tyndall makes educating her audience a part of her shows. She is the daughter of two teachers, and enjoys sharing the tales behind the tunes as much as she enjoys singing them.
On Saturday, March 2, audiences will have the opportunity to get some of that musical education when Tyndall and her band present “Shamrock and Thistle” at the Hopewell United Methodist Church.
The program will include Scottish poetry and songs from Robert Burns, old Irish folk ballads, and new songs by contemporary Irish singer-songwriters.
“We do a lot of traditional Irish and Scottish music, a lot of reels and jigs,” she says.
Now living in Belle Mead, Tyndall is carrying on an Irish family tradition. Her parents, Buadhach and Ida Toibin, were also musicians who taught their three sons and two daughters traditional Irish folk ballads in their home in Ennis, County Clare, not far from the famed Cliffs of Moher.
Tyndall’s passion, music, has also seen some packing and unpacking over the years. It was partially put on hold when she went to study nursing in Dublin. But that nonmusical interlude was when she met her future husband, David, now the senior director of research and development for Johnson and Johnson in Skillman. After becoming a registered nurse and taking a regular day job, she enrolled in the Dublin Conservatory of Music, where she studied classical music, sang in the choir, strengthened her sight singing skills, and performed at the National Concert Hall in Dublin.
Tyndall was still in Dublin and in her early 30’s and starting a family when she began recording her debut album of Gaelic songs, Deirin De. She says the title is a children’s lullaby that she learned as a child.
The recording was interrupted when her husband was transferred to Medfield, Massachusetts, and the family packed up and moved. Arriving in the U.S. with her husband and three daughters—Aisling, Caoimhe, and Laoise—she left nursing and focused on raising a family and getting back to her music. She followed that with Moonglow, featuring spirited takes on familiar jazz fare such as “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” “Deed I Do,” “Tenderly,” and the title track.
Another musical interruption occurred in 2007 when the family moved to the Princeton region, and after unpacking again, Tyndall began looking to forge new musical connections. She joined the Einstein Alley Musicians Collaborative and also got involved with local community theaters, including the Sourland Hills Actors Guild. She also performed at Cafe Improv at the Arts Council of Princeton.
Of course there is the current show. “A few years ago Tom McAteer (a Scot) who at the time was the general manager of the Ryland Inn (in White House Station), invited me to perform an evening of music by Robert Burns for a celebration at the Ryland Inn. I put a show together and it grew legs and developed into ‘Shamrock and Thistle,’” she says.
Lest someone think they will hear very little English at one of Tyndall’s concerts, she is quick to add, “I love all different types of music and singing all types of music.” Her proof is her participation in a group that presents the songs of Burt Bacharach and her past involvement with an 11-piece Princeton group that performed Motown and soul cover songs.
Yet the Irish musical accent will be clear during the upcoming “Shamrock and Thistle” and audibly supported by Judy Minot on piano and keyboards; Wolfgang Hull on fiddle; Rich Miller on guitar; and David Ross on percussion.
Hopewell United Methodist Church, is at 20 Blackwell Ave., Hopewell. Showtime 7 p.m.; tickets $20. fionatyndall.com.
A version of this story ran in the Feb. 27 issue of U.S. 1 newspaper.