Music Preview: Cara is the latest performer coming to the Upper Chapel

Cara DillonCara Dillon
Cara Dillon
Irish folk singer Cara Dillon is one of the latest performers to be booked into the Upper Chapel in Sheffield city centre.

A five-piece band that includes husband Sam Lakeman plays the historic place of worship - complete with stained glass windows and wraparound balcony - on Saturday, November 11.

A tour precedes next year’s album, Coming Home – Cara’s first recorded collection of entirely original material and, in another slight shift in direction, a blurring of the lines between spoken word and song.

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It’s also a change from the pre-Christmas show, Upon A Winter’s Night, comprising traditional carols and original compositions, that Sheffield has warmed to in the past.

As well as husband Sam on piano and guitar, the band features Nick Pini on bass, Toby Shaer on fiddles, whistle and guitar, and a Sheffield-based Liz Hanks on cello.

A University of Sheffield graduate, Liz teaches the instrument and straddles the classical and popular music worlds, from a being director of the Up North Session Orchestra and working with Music in the Round to playing on albums by the likes of Paul Heaton and Richard Hawley and performing live with Russell Watson, Kate Rusby and Smokey Robinson.

Her deftness on cello suggests an ideal accompaniment to the sublime voice of County Derry-born Cara who famously won the All Ireland singing trophy aged 14.

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From Irish legends De Dannan, she went on to folk ‘supergroup’ Equation alongside two young Barnsley folk singers, Kathryn Roberts and Kate Rusby, and her husband-to-be.

The new album was conceived during the Covid lockdown. “I started, as I have often done in the past, to write poetry, but this time I discovered a new-found freedom to express myself within the tiniest of details and life's larger mysteries - exploring family, belonging, place and ancestry.”

The Upper Chapel Unitarian Church in Norfolk Street, opposite the Crucible, was built in 1700 as Sheffield’s first purpose-built non-conformist place of worship and now also offers a homely venue for acoustic performers of the calibre of Cara and her band.

Also lined up are Scottish folk singer songwriter Kris Drever on November 17, Hampshire’s country pop twin sisters Ward Thomas on November 25 and, next year, Devon-raised folk singer and guitarist John Smith on April 24.

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