Ríona Sally Hartman is a bi-lingual vocalist, composer and songwriter based in Ireland. Her music has become known for its lush vocal harmonies, acoustic softness and the surrealist stories that accompany her songs.
Her songs are sung from the point of view of a cast of characters; there’s Tom Peeping who falls in love with every woman he sees but never speaks to them, there’s the Fish who’s so obsessed with Frida Kahlo it chases a spinner to wear it as an earring and then there’s Sally a very talented but frustrated fortune teller. The songs are influenced by musicians who blend pop sensibilities with contemporary jazz and classical compositional ideas such as Becca Stevens, Julie Feeney and Bjork. Lyrically her main influences are contemporary storytellers who combine surrealist and fantastical elements with astute observations on universal experiences, such as the short stories of Miranda July and Neil Gaiman.
Her debut album Big Starving Thing was released in May 2015 and was described by The Irish Times as a "finely crafted debut album...fresh and unclichéd”.
As well as leading her own solo project Ríona performs as a member of many varied collaborative projects including Monster Monster, Dig A Little Deeper, The National Concert Hall’s Education and Community Outreach Band (ECO), Mark Lynch’s An Bóthar as well as in her own sextet FÓD who play a collection of joyous, uptempo song cycles inspired by a smorgasbord of influences from West African percussive singing to the inventive Brazilian melodies of Hermeto Pascoal. She has been awarded both an Emerging Artist Bursary for the Creation of New Work in 2015 and a Professional Development Arts Grant in 2016, both from Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and is a member of the Improvised Music Company’s board of directors as a representative of young, emerging Irish musicians.
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The Irish Times““Dubliner Ríona Sally Hartman is capable of using her voice like an instrument, but she is a writer too, interested in the observations and speculations of the poet….delicate vocal harmonies and sparse acoustic settings, fresh and uncliched, perhaps bearing most comparison with intrepid New York singers like Theo Bleckmann and Becca Stevens.” ”