Imelda Mary Higham (born Imelda Mary Clabby on 10 July 1974), professionally known as Imelda May, is an Irish musician and singer-songwriter. Born and raised in The Liberties area of Dublin, May began her career in music at age sixteen—performing with a number of local bands and musicians— before forming her own band in 2002. She released her debut studio album, No Turning Back, in 2003 and relocated to London, United Kingdom with husband and guitarist Darrel Higham after its release. Following an appearance on the BBC music programme Later... with Jools Holland in 2008, she released her second studio album, Love Tattoo (2009). May collaborated and toured with a number of artists following its release. Her similarly-received third studio album, Mayhem, was released in 2010 and earned her a nomination for the Choice Music Prize.
Although known primarily as a singer, May also plays the bodhrán, guitar, bass guitar and tambourine. Described as "a unique vocal talent," May is known for her musical style of rockabilly revival and has also been compared to female jazz musicians such as Billie Holiday. She won the Best Female Artist of the Year award at the 2009 Meteor Awards.
Early life and careerEdit
May was born in Dublin on 10 July 1974 in the Liberties in the south inner city. She is the youngest of five siblings, with sisters Edel Foy and Maria O'Reilly, and brothers Brendan Clabby and Fintan Clabby. In 1991, She attended Senior College Ballyfermot, where she studied Art, Graphics and Printmaking. Her early musical influences were folk and rock and roll, especially the music of Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent. By the age of nine, she was a fan of Rockabilly and Blues, particularly Elmore James and Billie Holiday. At fourteen, she sang in an advertisement for Findus Fish Fingers; of which she told Graham Norton on his talk show that she and her friends as a result "got known as the Fish Finger Girls." However, her career began at age 16 when she began touring the Dublin club circuit and she was occasionally barred from her own shows at Dublin's Bruxelles club for being underage. "I was getting tips from the best musicians in Dublin," May said. "One of them said, 'your voice is great, but it needs to roughen.'" It was around this time, when driving a tearful Imelda to a gig after a boyfriend break-up, that her father asked her, "Is your heart broken? Excellent. Now you can sing the blues." After moving to the UK in 1998, May began singing with Blue Harlem and Mike Sanchez.
It was announced on her official Facebook page that May gave birth to a daughter, Violet Kathleen Higham, on Thursday the 23rd of August, 2012. The baby made a surprise appearance during the New Years Concert in Dublin.