Shay Black is an avid songcatcher, musician and singer and is known for his extensive knowledge of songs and music from the Irish, English, Scottish, and North American traditions. Born in Dublin, Ireland, he moved in 1994 to Berkeley, CA from Liverpool, where he had lived for the previous twenty years. While in Liverpool, he toured and recorded with Irish band Garva, the celebrated Stan Hugill and fabled sea shanty singers Stormalong John.
Shay is the eldest member of Ireland’s Black Family, who are “regarded as one of the most impressive groups of Irish singers to be found anywhere” according to a review in The Irish Echo. As a close-knit family group, which includes his brothers Michael and Martin and sisters Frances and Mary Black, they possess a bond which never fails to translate into their onstage intertwining of voices, which has been described as exquisite, exhilarating, and nothing short of thrilling.
Shay teaches Folk Repertoire at Berkeley’s Freight and Salvage music venue, now held weekly and world-wide on Zoom, and his most regular pre-COVID local gig was the weekly Starry Irish Music Session at the Starry Plough pub in Berkeley every Sunday. He tours regularly in the US and Europe with Michael as The Black Brothers, also with Martin, Frances and Mary Black as The Black Family. Both Shay and Michael have been Instructors at O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat in years past.
Apart from family gigs, Shay performs individually, and with a myriad of musicians and singers in the bay area, including Nauticus and Dogwatch, both sea music bands, and De Dannyboyz, an occasional group that plays weddings, sessions, parties, and wakes. Shay has recorded and performed with the California Revels, Shira Kammen, Peter Kasin and Richard Adrianovich, Dogwatch, Sharon Knight, In Harmony’s Way and other groups and singers. With Celia Ramsay he released a “Singer’s Request”, and in 2020 he and Michael released the CD “Glackanacker”.
When Shay performs, his music creates a sheer celebration of singing which he generously shares with his audience. The material is quintessentially Irish, ranging from traditional to humorous to new songs. Shay will always welcome audience participation, and his infectious humor, wit, and unalloyed joy in singing make it difficult for anyone to remain a spectator for long!
Instructor – Singing | Enrichment Class – Irish Influenced Songs of the Sea | Lead Song Session