Deirdre Keane

First Published October 2022


Singer DEIRDRE KEANE is going ‘Downda Road’ with her new single, her take on a stone-cold nineties classic! The Galway native, now based in the Shannon-side town of Banagher in Offaly, is teaming up with MIKE GLEESON and his DOWNDA ROAD PRODUCTIONS team to release her version of Marc Cohn‘s Grammy nominated signature song WALKING IN MEMPHIS, which went ongeneral release this very week, and topped the Irish iTunes country chart in the process.

          The song, which has also been covered by global superstar Cher and American country legends Lonestar, is Deirdre’s first release with Downda Road, and it’s a collaboration – and a return to the airwaves – that has the former Glór Tíre contestant excited about what’s to come…

          “The thing about this song”, shares Deirdre, “is that it’s always been one of my favourites. I love Cher and Marc Cohen. Mike and I had been talking about maybe doing a collaboration, and when he suggested ‘Walking In Memphis’, I just thought, aaw yeah, I’d love to do that. To put my own twist on it would be amazing.” 

          “I’m of the age – unfortunately – that I can remember this song when it first came out”, laughs Deirdre. “And then when Cher’s version first came out, in 95, I think, it was one of my favourite songs at the time, I remember we were all singing it. It’s a classic now. Part of that, first of all, is down to Cher, because everything she does is amazing really. And it has a kind of Elvis vibe to it as well. I’d be a big Elvis fan. It was a very different song to anything else that was out at the time. And it’s stood the test of time.”

          It takes a big voice to take on a big song, and when Downda Road‘s Mike Gleeson heard Deirdre sing on last season’s edition of Glór Tíre, he knew immediately that hers was a voice he wanted to work with. 

          “Deirdre has the kind of voice that has the singer’s soul completely on show. It’s just wide open, unguarded, and as real as the day she was born. There’s something there that’s as rare as it is natural. You can’t put that ‘something’ into someone’s voice, or teach them to sing that way. And because of that, Deirdre can’t sing without that intrinsic emotional power, that old-world, lived-in kind of feeling being present, and coming through. When she sings, she brings a song to life in a way that is absolutely unforced to her, but for the listener, it forces you to give your attention to her. To the song. Her vocal talent draws you into the song in a way that makes you experience the song with her, you don’t just hear her sing. I felt that way as soon as I heard her perform on Glór Tíre, and I knew that I wanted to work with her at some stage.” 

          And when her time on the show came to an end, Mike picked up the phone, as Deirdre recalls…

          “I was delighted to be on Glór Tíre, to be on ‘live’ television is a great experience to have under your belt. And I was delighted to meet all the other contestants as well. Everyone that works on the show is lovely. You learn from everything in life, and that includes being on a show like that. If I didn’t go on it, then maybe Mike wouldn’t have ended up reaching out, you never know. It opened that door for me and I’m very glad I went on it.”

          She continued, “It was after I left the show that Mike reached out to me. He said he loved my voice, and that he loved my single, ‘Last Thing On My Mind’, that it was one of his favourite songs of mine. I knew Mike had collaborated with some other artists so I was delighted when he reached out to me, I jumped at the opportunity. Mike has a huge knowledge of music and is very professional, and is a really nice guy as well. Mike is a perfectionist, which is brilliant. And he has a brilliant ear for what a song needs. When you’re working with Mike, as opposed to on your own, he’s there supporting you, pushing you to go to places where he knows that you’ll excel, but you’d be kind of afraid to go yourself. He’s a brilliant influence, a great man to have on your team.”

          So with Deirdre now on the Downda Road team for this version of Walking In Memphis, what can fans expect from the collaboration? 

          “Well, there’s some fiddle in it, that’s different for a start”, observes Deirdre. “We tried to stay as close to the original as I could without making it sound exactly like it was just a straight-forward cover. I suppose my voice on it is what makes it that bit different. I wanted to keep the song’s main feel, but bring my own style into it as well. Now, if you ask me what my own style is”, she quickly adds, “I couldn’t really tell ya [laughs]. The song really grew in the studio as we worked on it, and I’m delighted with how it came out.”

          Walking In Memphis was the lead single on Marc Cohn’s self-titled debut album in 1991, peaking at #13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and giving the Cleveland-born Grammy winner (Best New Artist in 1992) his only Top Forty hit. The song also earned Cohn a Grammy nod in the Song of the Year category in 1992. 

          Deirdre’s take on Walking In Memphis won’t be her only involvement with Downda Road Productions, with Mike Gleeson revealing that there are at least two more projects already in the works. 

“The thing about working with someone who has a voice like Deirdre has, is that recording one song would never be enough to explore all the possibilities of what might be possible. So we’ve already got something else planned, something that’s going through the production process right now. And I genuinely think it’s going to surprise most people when they hear it first of all. But I’d also nearly guarantee you that after people hear it once, maybe twice, they’ll be like, ‘wow!’ And it will seem like such an obvious direction for Deirdre’s voice to go in.”

          Mike continued, “And we’ve also got a brilliant Christmas duet coming where Deirdre links up with another artist we’re delighted to be working with at Downda Road, Teresa Marie Canavan. Again, in Teresa Marie, we’re talking about a voice that is so unique in its layers and its texture. Pair that talent with the vocal ability that Deirdre has, and you’re really talking about something special.”

WALKING IN MEMPHIS, the brand NEW single from DEIRDRE KEANE – and her first in collaboration with DOWNDA ROAD PRODUCTIONS – is OUT NOW on all platforms and radio.


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