The Willis Clan

A few months ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Brenda Willis, matriarch of The Willis Clan, for Irish Dance Magazine. After speaking with her over the phone and a series of email exchanges I wished had more space to devote to the group made up of a family of very talented musicians and Irish dancers.  This past weekend I had the chance to meet Brenda and hear her family perform live at  the Ohio International & Celtic Festival in Painesville, OH. If I was hooked by their debut CD “Chapter One – Roots” I am a bigger fan after seeing them in person.

The Willis Clan hails from middle Tennessee near Nashville and is no stranger to music. Their Great Grandparents also had a band and according to the The Willis Clan website “Each generation has carried on the music in their own way.” The current generation, who began playing together as small children in 2001,  fuses their Scotch-Irish roots with folk, various dance influences and the Nashville music scene  to offer a fresh take on Irish/Celtic music. Their original music is filled with  danceable music, beautiful vocals and haunting melodies that will leave the listener longing for more.

The band has a stage presence filled with friendly banter and makes an easy connection with the audience who enjoyed the gentle teasing amongst the siblings and stories behind the songs. The hour-long set also highlighted the younger children who danced during several songs and delighted the crowd with a four-hand reel and solo steps on “Blast O’Reels” , the final song of the day. I’m looking forward to seeing the Willis Clan perform again and following what I’m sure will be a long and successful journey through the music world.


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