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Norah Rendell NCJennings-175

Song, flute, whistle

“Rendell’s vocals are a revelation – pure, strong, and expressive.”  Rob Weir, SingOut! Magazine

Norah is a singer, flute player and whistle player that specializes in the traditional folk songs and dance music of Ireland and Canada. For the past 15 years, she has toured internationally with several ensembles including seven years as lead singer and flute player for the award-winning group, The Outside Track.  She has also performed with the Two Tap Trio (St. Paul), the Máirtín de Cógáin Project, the Canadian folk string quartet called the Fretless and Paddy O’Brien’s Doon Ceili band in Minnesota.

In the past five years years, Norah has built a reputation for herself as a solo artist. She was nominated for “Best Traditional Singer of the Year” by the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2009 and was named “Best Vocalist of the Year” by the Live Ireland Awards in 2011 and 2012.  She has been featured as a soloist at the Celtic Connections festival in Cape Breton, Pierre Schryer’s Canadian Celtic Celebration in Thunder Bay and at the Celtic Junction in Saint Paul.

Norah’s performances have been featured live on MPR’s Heartland Radio, CBC’s Canada Live, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Scotland and Radio nan Gaidheal. Her recordings have been broadcast on the CBC, BBC, RTÉ Radio na Gaeltachta (Ireland) and on folk shows across Canada and the United States.

Norah is passionate about exploring the traditional music of her native country, Canada, and has been researching and learning rare songs from field recordings made in Canada during the 1950’s folk revival, many of which have roots in Ireland and Scotland. She is in collaboration with Bush fellow Dáithí Sproule, guitarist Brian Miller, multi-instrumentalist Randy Gosa and harpist Ailie Robertson to arrange this exciting new body of material.

Norah has a Masters in Irish Traditional music performance from the University of Limerick and a Bachelor of Music degree in Early Music Performance and Music Education from McGill University. She has given guest lectures and workshops at University College Cork, the University of Limerick, The Folk Steps Conference in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and has taught numerous workshops in Irish song, flute and whistle at festivals throughout North America and Europe.

In addition to numerous performance-based projects, Norah is currently based in Saint Paul, Minnesota where she works passionately as the Executive Director of the Center for Irish Music, a non-profit community music school dedicated to handing down the tradition of Irish music.


Rendell’s deep interest in traditional and historical music began as a professional recorder player. Her professional recorder career saw her as a featured soloist with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and The Burney ensemble and workshops for Early Music Vancouver and the BC Recorder Society in 2001-2005.

Through many twists and turns (and pubs!), however, her music took a sharp turn toward folk music in her early twenties when she discovered the rich oral tradition of Ireland, in her home town of Vancouver. Soon after, 5-piece Canadian roots band, Cleia and Celtic trio, The Maenads and all-female a cappella group, the No Shit Shirleys were formed, all of which toured throughout British Columbia and Alberta from 2001-2005.

Norah moved to Ireland in 2005 to complete a Masters degree in Irish Traditional Music Performance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in Limerick.  During that time, she co-founded the award-winning Celtic band, The Outside Track with whom she recorded three critically acclaimed albums and toured 70-100 dates a year in North America and Europe.  Norah has nine albums to her name including the 2007 duo release with Brian Miller,” Wait There Pretty One” and the Máirtín de Cógáin Project’s “From Cork With Love”. She also appears as a guest vocalist on Canadian string quartet, The Fretless’ album “Waterbound” which won three prestigious Canadian folk music awards in 2012.

2015 / Spinning Yarns / Solo song album (Two Tap Records)

2012 / Flash Company / The Outside Track (Lorimer Records)

2012 / Waterbound / The Fretless, featuring Norah Rendell as a guest vocalist. Winner of two Canadian Folk Music Awards.

2012 / From Cork With Love / Máirtín de Cógáin Project (Norah, Brian Miller, Máirtín de Cógáin)

2009 / A Night At the Fair / Two Tap Trio (Two Tap Records)

2009 / Curious Things Given Wings / The Outside Track (Lorimer Records)

2007 / The Outside Track / The Outside Track (Lorimer Records)

2005 / New Live Songs / Cleia (Andy Hillhouse, Neil and Keona Hammond, Karla Mundy, Norah Rendell)

2004 / Wait There Pretty One / Norah Rendell and Brian Miller.  Nominated for “Best Traditional Singer”, Canadian Folk Music Awards

2004 / This Side of Main / Cleia (Andy Hillhouse, Neil and Keona Hammond, Karla Mundy, Norah Rendell)

2002 / The Gnarly Stump / Cleia (Andy Hillhouse, Neil & Keona Hammond, Karla Mundy and Norah)

2004 / The Maenads / The Maenads (Rebecca Blair, Linda Bull, Norah Rendell)

No one has ever won Female Vocalist of the Year three times. Wait. Norah Rendell just did. Chicago Irish American News’ music columnist Bill Margeson has named Norah “Best Female Vocalist of 2016” in his annual Top TIR (Tradition In Review) awards. She is given this prestigious title for the third time (2011, 2012 and 2016), this time alongside legendary Irish and folk music artists such as Máire Ní Chathasaigh, Buttons and Bows, Colin Farrell and James Keelaghan.

Dan Neely, music writer for the Irish Echo, the USA’s most widely read Irish American newspaper writes about “Spinning Yarns”. “…Spinning Yarns” is a thoughtful, intimate exploration of Canada’s song tradition. The songs she’s uncovered are unusual and thoroughly enjoyable, and the arrangements smartly conceived and well executed. Highly recommended!”

Norah Rendell is the Canadian singer behind the beautiful new album, ‘Spinning Yarns.’ Blending a range of influences and inputs over twelve tracks, drawn from some interesting sources. Showcasing the power of both song and community, the album shows off the strength of Norah’s singing, and the conviction she puts into her music. It also speaks of the immigrant experience, as many of the pieces have their roots in the British Isles and Ireland. We spoke to Norah about the album, her singing roots and the songs she has encountered that make up ‘Spinning Yarns.’

“Exploring the traditional music of her native Canada, researching the roots and stories behind rare songs coupled with an enduring passion for conservation as much as innovation, Norah not only keeps memories fresh but invigorates them with new life.” Tom Franks, Folkwords

Norah receives a four-star review in the Irish Post. “Spinning Yarns is a lovely album, a fine collection of traditional songs played and sung with real style sincerity and an obvious love for the material by a very talented woman.” – Joe Giltrap, The Irish Post

Listen to an in-depth interview about Norah’s new album, “Spinning Yarns” with MPR The Current’s Radio Heartland host, Mike Pengra.

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Promotional photos of Norah (solo, duo, trio and quartet). Click on a photo to view and/or download the high-resolution version.


Coming soon.


Coming soon.

Selected quotes

“…clear, expressive singing, which is among the best on today’s Celtic folk scene. It all adds up to a brilliant album I could listen to all day–in fact, I just have!” – Stephen Winick, Huffington Post

“A fine singer of traditional ballads.” Alex Monahan, Living Tradition

“Rendell’s vocals are a revelation – pure, strong, and expressive.” Rob Weir, SingOut! magazine

“Norah Rendell takes lead vocals with calm authority” Colin Randall, The Telegraph, UK

“Wait There Pretty One shows a brilliant musical technical combination of the best of the Irish traditional approach and Norah’s stunning, purely Canadian voice.” Bill Margeson, Live Ireland

“A fabulous lead vocalist”  Dal Jeffries, Rock ‘n Reel magazine

“Brings sunlight into your heart and sets your feet a-dancing.”  The Munster Express, Ireland

“Her singing left me goose-pimpled all over – a sure sign of a gutsy, emotional delivery laced with meaning and pathos” Fred Silver, The Stornoway Gazette

“Norah is an exceptional singer.  A true standout, but she’s also a great flute player.” SingOut! magazine

Norah Rendell