Described by The Redstone Review as “a Celtic angel…with all her heart in it,” and by Sing Out! as “lovely, with a light, bouncy energy…her voice often acting as an instrument in itself,” folksinger Beth Gadbaw grew up singing harmonies with her triplet sisters in a musical household in Western Colorado. Gadbaw came of age singing in Irish pubs and English folk clubs, and is a former Fulbright scholar and award-winning singer, composer, and teacher. She lives in Lyons, Colorado with her husband and two daughters.
Beth was drawn to Irish music at the age of seven upon discovering what it meant to be Irish-American. Her mother's side of the family hailed from upstate New York, having emigrated to America during the Great Famine (the story of her great-great-uncle Thomas Watson is recounted in her original ballad named for him and taken from his letters to sister Sara McGuire). Her love of learning about her family history first took her to Ireland in 1996 where she attended the Joe Mooney and Willie Clancy Summer Schools; subsequent summers found her camping on the beach at Miltown Malbay rising early to jump into the Atlantic before heading to trad singing classes and sessions until the wee hours of the morning. After completing her Masters in Music Education at the University of Colorado with an emphasis in Ethnomusicology, she returned to Ireland as a continuing education student at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where she studied Irish Gaelic in evening classes in the city andattended residential intensives in Connemara.
It was not until spending a Fulbright year in Devon, England, that Beth fell in love with English folksong, attending folk clubs in the moors and on the shores of Devon and Cornwall. She bolstered her music-teaching income by busking on the picturesque, rainy streets of the villages of Southwest England, carrying her 26 string harp and her hat to collect pennies and pounds, singing all the way.
Gadbaw's debut solo album The Green Fields and the Mountains High is a compelling collection of traditional and original songs in English and Irish Gaelic. Beth approaches ballads, drinking songs, and sean-nos repertoire with rare strength and sensitivity, at times bold, at times demure, always passionately and skillfully. In 2016, Beth was commissioned to set the poetry of Welsh Poet Laureate Gwyneth Lewis for four-part choral voices. Her voice has appeared in productions for stage, for Colorado and Oregon Public Television, and on various recordings. She has made guest appearances with the Chieftains and has opened for The Battlefield Band, Lunasa, and The Seamus Egan Project. Most recently, she has toured with Fiddler Sandra Wong and acclaimed bouzouki player Roger Landes.
Beth Gadbaw’s music can be heard on RTÉ’s Raidió na Gaeltachta and Radio 1, as well as on Colorado Public Radio, Folk Alley, Thunder on the Plains, and more. She performs as a solo artist, with high-energy traditional band Take Down the Door, with and ethereal Celtic harp and vocal duo Gadbaw & Krimmel.