Eleanor McEvoy’s long career at the core of the Irish music scene has seen her take on several roles: a popular performing and recording artist, sure, but also a spokeswoman, particularly as head of the Irish music industry body IMRO, where she fights for musician’s rights. That’s been particularly pervasive recently, but it’s not been everything, and neither has her weighty early career hit ‘Only A Woman’s Heart’.
“There have been many, many positives,” McEvoy says of her personal experience over the last couple of difficult years, despite her concern for the wider music industry. “I had been constantly touring over the last thirty years with very little rest or timeout. I’ve always had a very strong work ethic, but during the pandemic, I learned how utterly vital it is to have down time in your life.”
“For the first time ever, I had dedicated time to create, write and record. It’s given me great clarity of thought and it’s put me in a very good place mentally.”
A personal output of the downtime has been McEvoy’s new single, entitled ‘South Anne Street’. “South Anne Street has long been a regular haunt of mine from the days of the Coffee Inn and many numerous, brilliant pubs all around that area,” she says. “One day, a couple of years ago, at the corner of South Anne Street coming towards Grafton Street, I bumped into an ex-boyfriend from thirty-ish years ago.”
“It was both very weird and very wonderful. We decided to walk a few steps away to Harry Street, over to McDaid’s Pub (where we would have gone in the old days), where we spent a lovely afternoon and then went our separate ways. During lockdown, that encounter with my ex kept coming into my mind, hence the writing of the song.”
It’s way back in the early part of her career, though, where McEvoy felt she was able to establish herself, a scenario she feels is denied acts that have followed in her footsteps.
“The biggest change is the lack of income due to the shift to streaming and the ridiculous cost of rent and housing in Dublin,” she says. “When I started out, I lived in a bedsit in Rathmines. My rent was cheap and it allowed me to establish myself as a freelance musician, singer and songwriter. I honestly do not know how new bands and artists are managing to do it now. It’s a travesty, we risk losing so much great talent.”
“I have to say that it’s a privilege to represent the extraordinarily talented songwriters and publishers who make up our members, but it’s certainly not easy,” she says of her IMRO role. “Whilst it consumes a great deal of my time, I find it a very worthy cause to devote that time to. I often find it hard to fight for myself and to speak up for my own rights, but I find myself compelled to speak up for the rights of songwriters, creators and those who represent them.”
“I have been so inspired by our members over the course of the pandemic. Their continued creativity in the face of the devastation of their industry has made me want to fight harder for their rights into the future.”
As for her own future? Eleanor’s aims are simple: “to head out and hit the road on this tour to make magic, to heal hearts and to spread the gospel of ‘gimme some wine’.”