James MacCarthy (born 1953) is an Irish singer-songwriter.
Early life and career:
MacCarthy was born in Macroom, County Cork, Ireland to Ted MacCarthy (died 1998) and Betty MacCarthy (died 2009). He has 11 siblings. The family had a business distributing newspapers and magazines all over Munster. However the family soon lost their business from a combination of bad health and bad luck. Despite this Ted and Betty made sure that things would still be good for their children.
MacCarthy left school at 15 where he was unhappy, without an Inter Cert and became a stable boy at Vincent O'Brien's place in Ballydoyle, but after five years between Tipperary and Newmarket Jimmy returned home to help his father whose bad heart led to the end of the business. He then made a living out of singing at pubs, and was later busking in the streets of London and during occasional slots. He opened other singers' gigs in Ireland.
In 1995, MacCarthy bought a house in Wicklow, which was unfortunately destroyed by a recent blaze along with other recording studios (outhouses) set up by MacCarthy.
MacCarthy now resides in Kilkenny in a house he bought in 2006
MacCarthy is best known as a songwriter. Composing since the late 1970s, his songs have been recorded by many Irish artists including Christy Moore, Mary Black, Finbar Wright, Maura O'Connell, The Corrs and Westlife. "Ride On", recorded by Christy Moore, is one of his best known compositions. Moore also recorded MacCarthy's songs "Missing You", "Bright Blue Rose" and "Mystic Lipstick". Mary Black, Maura O'Connell and The Corrs have recorded MacCarthy's "No Frontiers", while Black has also recorded his songs "Katie", "Adam at the Window", "Diamond Days", "As I Leave Behind Neidín", "Shuffle of the Buckled" and "Another Day." MacCarthy also co-wrote Westlife's "Angel's Wings." This track was meant to be a Christmas single for Westlife during that year but the band chose a different song. Jimmy believes that if Westlife released "Angel's Wings" as a single the chances were that it could have became a number one hit and it would have been nice to have a song at the top of the UK charts.
While his music has been described as folky power-pop it can also be classed as folk-rock. Prior to embarking on a lengthy career as a singer/songwriter in Ireland, MacCarthy released his first single "Miles of Eyes" in 1981 under Mulligan Records. The same year a second single was put out through the same label, which was titled "Like in the Movies". This was after being in a band called "Southpaw" with Declan Sinnott in the late 1970s.
A longtime fan of The Beatles, in October 1999 MacCarthy played at the National Concert Hall, Dublin as a special guest with the "fifth Beatle" George Martin. He performed a cover of The Beatles' song "She's Leaving Home".
In his career MacCarthy has toured with De Dannan and worked with the best producers such as Donal Lunny and many more.
Up to 2002, MacCarthy released three albums of his own. The Song of the Singing Horseman (1991), The Dreamer (1994) and The Moment (2002). His debut album, The Song of the Singing Horseman has been described as having a "masterly blend of pop melodies, trad fiddles, Spanish guitars, country-and-western rhythms and chamber-music strings." MacCarthy's third album, The Moment, features co-writers on five of its tracks, including a song written with Graham Lyle (the songwriter of Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do with It?"). More firmly a pop-rock album than his first two recordings, the music on The Moment is predominately guitar and keyboard based. MacCarthy released his fourth album Hey Ho Believe on 25 October 2010.
More recently MacCarthy's songs have been covered by newer artists such as The Celtic Tenors,Michelle Lally, and Tommy O'Sullivan.
Warmer for the Spark:
In 1998 MacCarthy released an album together with Tommy Fleming, Frances Black, Mary Black, Christy Moore, Maura O Connell and Mary Coughlan which they named Warmer for the Spark; the songs of Jimmy MacCarthy Volume One. Jimmy wrote every song on this album and sang two of his own.
Freedom of Macroom:
MacCarthy was awarded the keys of Macroom in April 2008 for his achievements in songwriting. He was only the third person to be awarded the freedom of the town. He was given the keys by mayor Pat O'Connell.
Current work (2002-Present):
In 2007 a charity album named Tuesdays Child was released which included MacCarthy as well as Irish artists Westlife, Ronan Keating and Brian Kennedy. Jimmy MacCarthy's song "Wonder Child" was put on this album.
MacCarthy will also be co-writing songs on Marc Robert's upcoming fourth album.
Returning performances (2008-Present):
MacCarthy returned to performing in 2008 initially with a band consisting of Eleanor Healy (bass and vocals) and Martin Leahy (percussion and drums) to great acclaim. More recently he has been performing solo at venues throughout Ireland. He plans to perform new songs along with all of his classic hits. In summer 2009 he played his first tour of gigs at big venues such as the National Concert Hall, the Cork Opera House and Galway Town Hall.
On 4 July Jimmy played at Kenmare, County Kerry, which is the town known as "Neidín", in Irish, after which MacCarthy named his classic hit "As I Leave Behind Neidín". Manager of the Carnegie Arts Centre Deryn O'Callaghan has said that after remembering the town in one of his songs Jimmy MacCarthy will have a warm welcome in playing at this venue.
Jimmy has also stated in a recent interview that he feels more relaxed now in preparation for playing gigs in Ireland once again. He has over 100 new songs written and plans to release a new album. The new album Hey Ho Believe was released on 25 October 2010 and feature a new producer Donal Lunny. Other musicians that play on the album include Eoin O'Neill, Anto Drennan, Graham Henderson and more.
MacCarthy performed at Dublin's National Concert Hall in March 2010 following his big selling concert at this same venue in June 2009.
He will be playing the Concert Hall again on 29 November 2010 and a few other venues from now and until well into 2011.