A voice that left the mayor speechless

Singer: An 8-year-old with an angelic voice silences a rowdy bar and upstages O'Malley.

March 10, 2000|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Any fans who have patiently awaited today's arrival of Mayor Martin O'Malley's new CD "Wait for Me" might need that same patience while listening for its "secret" song.

An unlisted track on the second CD from O'Malley's March, the mayor's Irish rock band, features an unknown talent the band discovered earlier this year: Northeast Baltimore resident Sinead Fahey, age 8.

During a January benefit performance at Bohager's for next week's St. Patrick's Day parade, an organizer asked the mayor if the little girl could sing a song for the crowd. O'Malley agreed, not knowing that he was about to be upstaged.

"We were blaring away with the electric guitar and the ulian pipes screaming, trying to get the people at Bohager's attention," O'Malley recalled. "I stepped back, and as soon as she got to the first line of her song, the place fell silent."

Sinead performed an angelic a capella version of an Irish poem, "Hear the Wind Blow," that she found in a book. She matched the words with a traditional Irish melody she heard while listening to a band play at her father's pub, the European Union on Belair Road.

Her haunting, crystal voice brought the Fells Point bar to a standstill.

"Just listening to her, my eyes just welled up," O'Malley said. "It was that moving."

So moving, in fact, that O'Malley rushed Sinead into Secret Sound, the Essex recording studio where the band was putting the finishing touches on its new CD. Her song was added at the last minute as a bonus track.

Sinead's father, Michael, said he can't remember a time when his daughter didn't sing, whether during the ride to kindergarten or while shopping with her parents at the supermarket.

"She often sings at the grocery store and brings the place to a standstill," he said.

A third-grader at St. Francis of Assisi elementary school who will turn 9 on Tuesday, Sinead said she isn't shy about belting out a tune unaccompanied but was intimidated performing in a studio with the mayor of Baltimore watching.

"It was kind of scary," she said. "But he was really nice."

Sinead's sister, Erin, 11, is also a crooner, fashioning herself as a young Shania Twain.

Unlike O'Malley's first CD, "Celtic Fury," which contained more traditional jigs and reels, the new offering includes five songs written by the mayor, including the title track "Wait For Me" and "South Baltimore Ballad," about the blue light at South Baltimore's St. Mary's Church that guides sailors into the harbor. O'Malley had the help of another 8-year-old with that song: his daughter, Grace.

The new CD will get its official release tonight during a performance at Fletcher's and will go on sale soon (at $15) at stores including Bibelot's, Border's, Record Master, Barnes and Noble and Soundgarden.

O'Malley says he has no illusions about who is going to steal the show on his new recording.

"Watch what happens," the mayor said, chuckling. "She'll get signed on the national recording label, and we'll be singing in Baltimore bars."

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