Leeds born Belinda O'Hooley is best known till now as the songwriter and pianist on Mercury nominated album "The Bairns" by Rachel Unthank & the Winterset (now The Unthanks). Now settled in the Colne Valley, Belinda comes from a long line of musicians originating in Co. Sligo, Ireland. Her uncle is multi-instrumentalist Tony Howley, her cousin Colm O'Donnell leads the Border Collie Band and another cousin, Tommy Fleming has mapped out a successful solo singing career since leaving Irish super-group De Danaan.
In Belinda, the Unthanks "had a virtuosic and charismatic" pianist, but one completely unaccustomed to accompanying traditional English music. The result was an imaginative and striking sound, free from clichés and predictability. Belinda's day-job is performing in residential and nursing homes for the elderly. Her ability to play everything from the big band arrangements of the 1950's to the jazz, musical hall and wartime songs of the 30's and 40's, makes her a musician of startling versatility, with an understanding of her instrument second to none." (Adrian McNally). Recognised for her song writing and piano playing, she has been praised for making fantastic, lasting and important songs.
In January 2007, Belinda left the band, The Daily Telegraph describing her departure as akin to "Brian Eno leaving Roxy Music". After a period of reflection and considering her future, Belinda teamed up with fellow Yorkshire songwriter Heidi Tidow to create their very own brand of contemporary folk song in O'Hooley & Tidow. Heidi brings with her the traditional German music of her grandmother who she recalls playing the accordian in the parlour when Heidi was little, and the Irish songs and stories from her father's side in Athenry, Co. Galway. A member of the Huddersfield Music Collective, which supports new voices and music, Heidi was performing in her own right as a singer-songwriter on the Yorkshire music scene when Belinda came to one of Heidi's shows and was impressed by her songs and her distinct and expressive voice. At first Heidi began providing backing vocals on Belinda's songs, but soon it became clear that there was a connection, both in performance and songwriting which lent itself to them becoming equal partners.
Together as O'Hooley & Tidow, they write songs with an unconventional, wryly observant, melancholic and sometimes uncomfortable take on life. Their debut together was as support for Jim Moray in Whitby at the Compass Club in May 2008. Jim McLoughlin; the promoter, heard one song in their soundcheck and immediately offered them a slot at MusicPort Festival in Bridlington. It was their performance at this festival that launched O'Hooley & Tidow with a packed out theatre performance which guaranteed them more festivals for the following year including Larmer Tree, Shepley & Beverley, representation by Adastra folk agency, plus an opportunity to tour with Chumbawamba in March 2009.
From this, plus tours with BBC Radio 2 Folk award winner Jackie Oates, and meeting the talented Jo Freya, O'Hooley & Tidow were invited to record their debut album on the co-operative record label; No Masters. Their album; Silent June was released on 22nd February 2010 on No Masters with distribution by Proper. With piano, strings and two voices as the central core of the album, O'Hooley & Tidow have started from where The Bairns left off, and evolved and migrated into something totally unique and ground breaking.
- price: £9.