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- under construction-

Geraldine (McKeever)

From: Derry

Active: 60s/70s

Style: folk/contemporary


Female singer from Derry who seemed set to follow in the footsteps of Dana but whose career took an entirely different path.

Geraldine McKeever (b.1954) began singing and playing guitar while still at school, initially influenced by people like Joan Baez, Tom Paxtron and Roger Whittaker. At the age of 16 she approached Tony Johnston to manage her career. Johnston was a school headmaster and part-time promoter. He'd discovered Dana and become her manager, landing her a contract with Rex Records in Dublin. Dana ended her management agreement with Johnston in 1970 which is when Geraldine came along.

Once under management, Geraldine began performing professionally and within a year or so had recorded her debut LP for Beltona Records. Beltona, a Decca subsiduary, is strongly associated with Scottish folk music but the label also released some Irish folk titles. Even so, it was hardly the best choice of label for Geraldine's debut.

The album itself is a pleasant if minor mixture of folk and contemporary singer-songwriter material. Most of the songs are covers: Gordon Lightfoot, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, etc., plus a couple by manager Johnston (whose songs had also been recorded by Dana). Geraldine's voice is light and pleasant and the arrangements are simple and uncluttered, featuring harpsichord, sitar, flute, electric bass, hand percussion (no drums!) and some electric guitar. The album has been somewhat over-hyped in recent times. The copy reviewed in the pages of Galactic Ramble is described as "one of 3 known copies" which is ludicrous (there are more than 3 copies out there Richard!!). As a result, the asking price for second-hand copies has risen substantially [Since writing this, the LP has also been featured in Record Collector magazine]. Acid-folk seekers should be aware that there is certainly no suggestion of psychedelia about this record.

A followup LP was recorded during her period under Tony Johnston's management but this was shelved when their relationship ended. She has had no further contact with Johnston and the current whereabouts of the tapes of this unreleased LP are not known.

A second LP didn't emerge until 3 years later, by which time Geraldine's career had taken a different path from that suggested by the debut. The second LP was a collaboration with civil rights campaigner Tony Kearney. "Hang My Country" was released in 1974 on the Derry-based Cuchulainn label, which was owned by Tony Johnston. Geraldine also recorded solo material for Cuchulainn and it's subsiduary Flame Records. The track listing for her second solo LP proper "Sing My Country Vol.1", a set of depressingly over-familiar ballads, suggests her career was in the doldrums. She continued to perform regularly though 1975, playing the folk circuit but not adverse to cabaret work. She'd also completed a solo UK tour by 1975.

In 1975 another Northern singer named Geraldine Branagan [who'd sung with her brothers in The Branagans earlier in the decade] represented Luxembourg at the Eurovision song contest under the name Geraldine. This must have led to some confusion and can't have been helped either singer's career. Geraldine Branagan was married to Phil Coulter and recorded well into the 1980s. Her recordings are largely forgettable. Meanwhile, Geraldine McKeever seemed to disappear.

The following article appeared in Spotlight magazine in February 1975, which is the last trace of Geraldine I can find:

In fact, the story didn't end here. Geraldine studied music in Belfast and began to perform live with local rock band Dirty Work. She appears on their 1976 single. Geraldine married keyboard player Ronan O'Callaghan in 1978 and both moved to Dublin where the group became the Tony Kenny Band (see the Dirty Work entry for more details). While in Dublin Geraldine did some solo gigs (including Butlins) under the name Kate Austen. They moved to Derry in 1983 to raise a family and are still there. Geraldine teaches singing and music theory in North West Regional College. Their eldest son Eoin is AKA singer-songwriter Best Boy Grip.


• s/t
LP - Beltona Records - SBE 128 - UK - 1971

From the Liner Notes: "When sixteen year old schoolgirl GERALDINE came to ireland's Eurovision-winning star-maker Tony Johnston, she little expected the success that has come her way. From all sides she has been acclaimed as a singer with a great voice and a great future, a singer of great songs, who will carry on gher native city's passion as an ambasasador of songs to all the nations. Her performance on this fine selection of international and new native material is a sure portent of that."
(c) 1971 The Decca Record Company Limited, London.

Producer: Tony Johnston
Arrangements: Mike Geoghegan
Engineer: John D'Ardis
Recorded at Trend Studios, Dublin
The book Geraldine is reading in the front cover photograph is the Childrens Brittanica.

• She Wept for the Fighting of Orange and Green / Danny Boy
7" - Flame Records - FLM 004 - IRL - 1972?

Tony Kearney & Geraldine - Hang My Country: The Story Of A Tragedy
LP - Cuchulainn Records - CCHS 1001 - IRL - 1973?
Produced by Blan Mac a' Bhaird.

• Sing My Country Vol. 1
LP - Cuchulainn Records - CCHS 1002 - IRL - 1973?
Flan Mac A'Bhaird

• Sing My Country Vol. 2
LP - Cuchulainn Records - CCHS 1007 - IRL - 1974
Recorded at Eamonn Andrews Studios. Produced by Tony Johnston.

• The Ballad Of Drogheda / The Curragh Of Kildare
7" - Cuchulainn Records - CCH 009 - IRL - 1974

• Rain / Someday Soon
7" - Flame Records - FLM010 - IRL - 1975

See also:

Help!: We need your help to complete this entry. If you can tell us more about this band then please do! We welcome any corrections, missing details, connections to other bands, where are they now, etc. We also need photos, scans, copies of releases or live or demo recordings, and any other memorabilia gathering dust in the attic. If you can help, then please get in touch.

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