The Songbird’s Singing

Ahead of her Whale show on October 15th, EMMA LANGFORD reveals her musical roots.

From the moment she first stepped out into the light in 2016, it was obvious that Emma Langford wasn’t just another sensitive songsmith.

There was a restless curiosity and a cheeky inventiveness that took this Limerick lass far beyond cliche and into the genuinely exciting.
And, let’s be honest, we can’t really say that about many Irish artists. Even though much of our small music media does repeatedly say it about many Irish artists…?

With her debut album, 2017’s Quiet Giant, consisting of, says The Irish Times, ‘music that weaves a spell‘, the following year, Langford picked up Best Emerging Artist at RTÉ’s inaugural Folk Awards 2018. That same year, a whirlwind 100-date promotional tour across Europe sowed the seeds for a whole new album, Sowing Acorns.

Playing live is in the blood, which is why Emma brought her trio to The Whale in August 2021. And why she’s returning on Saturday, October 15th.

Before that 2021 gig, we asked Emma to reveal how she got suckered into this ridiculous line of work…

I lost my voice to vocal nodules when I was about 12. My mother wasted little time in getting me to an ENT to see what we needed to do to remedy the situation – now to clear up any confusion, we’ve never been wealthy, and this wasn’t a cheap process; besides which, I had no grand illusions of being a singer, but mammy Langford saw how utterly miserable croaking my way through choir practice was making me, she knew I was in for a rough few years and possibly surgery if it got worse, so we did what needed to be done. I went songless for a couple of years while I had vocal therapy and coaching and learned to respect my instrument and use it properly. I think it’s important to share that starting point, as I have it to thank for being here now.

I was finishing up my undergrad degree when I cracked out my guitar and a big fat folder full of song sheets in front of the late Lulu’s Cafe in Limerick City in 2013 – it was my first and only regular gig. My dad was usually my only crowd. A nice man who, it turned out, was one of the most proficient and prolific pianists in Limerick at the time strolled by and suggested I check out the open mic at the Wicked Chicken on Thursday night. So I did. And that’s where I got booked for my first ACTUAL gigs, the types that paid money and involved using a microphone and having an audience.

I got a Facebook message from Beoga’s Niamh Dunne: “Are you finished in college this summer? Or would you be up for taking a few weeks off work? We’ve worked with a German agent for the last 12 years and…” I got booked to play my first international tour – I signed the contract in March, and needed a full album recorded and printed by September in time to head off in October. Sure feck it, long story short, amid many sleepless nights while also finishing a thesis for my Masters degree at UL, I managed it. I took off in October, and despite staring at my own face in the mirror in shock most mornings over the last three years… I haven’t stopped to look back. And here I am, in the autumn of 2020, with an RTÉ Folk Award under my belt and a brand new second album just released and about to play none other than THE WHALE THEATRE in GREYSTONES!

It’s happened, it’s finally happened, everything I’ve worked for.

I kid, I kid, but I am genuinely excited to return to Wicklow for a gig in such a beautiful venue.

Emma Langford brings The Songbird Tour to The Whale on Thursday, October 15th – tickets here:



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