Muireann Bradley – Candyman

11th January 2024 · 2020s, 2023, Blues, Music

I wasn’t planning to watch Jools Holland’s Hootenanny on New Year’s Eve. And when I did switch over after the fireworks I certainly didn’t expect to witness an exciting new talent.

But I was blown away by seeing an Irish girl called Maureann Bradley who only turned 17 in December 2023.

Armed only with an acoustic guitar and an appealing catch in her voice, she sang Candyman, a song composed 95 years earlier by Mississippi John Hurt. It was spellbinding.

Don’t take my word for it: veteran blues fingerpicker Stefan Grossman, one of the most accomplished acoustic guitarists playing the blues, was so struck by hearing her that he said: “I can now retire – the torch has been passed.”

What makes Ms Bradley all the more remarkable is that she comes not from the Mississippi Delta or anywhere else in America but from the small village of Ballybofey in Co. Donegal.

She was discovered when Josh Rosenthal, founder and keeper of the traditionalist folk label Tompkins Square Records in San Francisco, came across a YouTube of her when she was 14.

Now he’s released an album of Muireann performing a dozen classic country blues songs, including this one. She’s astonishing.