Carmel's story is that of an extra-ordinary lady who has battled cancer twice and undergoing radiation treatment when recording her first professional album of inspirational songs and hymns.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to record He’ll Be There”, says Coventry based Carmel who is currently undergoing radiation treatment. “God gave me my voice, and this is my way of celebrating my faith and saying thanks to Him, for getting me through the first bout of cancer. I’m very proud of this album. It is a personal voyage of affirmation – the realisation of a life-long dream to record the songs that mean so much to me.”
Although 77 years old, Carmel’s retirement hasn’t been the easiest part of her life. In 2009 she had a double bypass. Then in 2011 - three weeks before losing her brother to cancer - she discovered that she herself had the disease, which was successfully treated. As if that wasn’t enough, she is now currently recovering after breast cancer. It’s been a challenging time but nothing can dull her sunny disposition and her unbreakable spirit. As Carmel says.... “there is always someone worse off than you!”
Carmel Murtagh, was born into dreadful poverty in Chapelizod in Dublin. One of 8 children, the only escape from the harsh reality of life was found in classical music. An older sister’s affluent boyfriend bought a record player and recordings of classical music such as Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and Grieg’s Peer Gynt. Many of her siblings joined with her in the church choir.
Following the loss of her mother Mary to cancer in 1953, everything changed. The family disintegrated, and after the collapse of the film industry in Dublin, in 1958, Carmel lost her job with MGM Pictures. The very next day she was forced to emigrate to England in search of work, eventually training as a nurse. She then became a Sister on the emergency unit at Coventry’s Walsgrave Hospital.
After 18 years Carmel sustained a debilitating work injury which put and end to her nursing career; the silver lining providing time for Carmel to focus on her passions - writing poetry, travelling, studying her Irish heritage and learning the Gaelic language (which she then taught), but most of all it gave her time for her music and singing.
Since they met 30 years ago, Carmel and her husband, Stuart - a retired ambulance officer - have travelled around the world, and Carmel’s love for life and people have given them some amazing musical experiences. Carmel’s unique and heart-warming voice has won her friends globally - each year she travels to Spain to sing for a 3000 strong crowd on St. Patrick’s Day. In fact it was in Russia that she first realised that people were disappointed when they couldn’t take away a CD of her music, with memories of their Irish friend, and so she made the decision to record some of the songs that she loves singing.
He’ll Be There is produced by Famous Record’s Terry Bradford, who has also produced most of Charlie Landsborough’s biggest hits including My Forever Friend and What Colour Is The Wind. He has also produced Dominic Kirwan and will shortly be working again with The Furey’s.
Carmel has been featured in the Coventry Telegraph, The Catholic Universe, Saturday Magazine, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, Hillz Radio, and the album is receiving support with UKCountry Music Radio's Allan Potter show, Sunday (BBC Radio ), Hillz Radio and many others. Forthcoming appearances include The Irish World, The Irish Post and the Catholic Herald.