Liz Carroll

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Liz Carroll

Since she was 18, when she astounded the Celtic music world by winning the Senior All-Ireland Championship, Liz and her fiddle have been amazing audiences around the globe. In recent years, she has been honored with many accolades, including a nomination for a 2010 Grammy, with John Doyle, for their duet album, "Double Play." In April of 2011, Liz was awarded the Cumadóir TG4, the first American-born composer honored with Ireland's most significant traditional music prize.

Liz's recordings are in the majority her own compositions, and they have given her a stature equal to that of her playing. When you listen to a Liz album, you're hearing the music of a composer celebrated for invigorating the traditional styles of Irish music. Her tunes have entered into the repertoire of Irish and Celtic performers throughout the world.

Liz's most recent recording, "On the Offbeat," is another collection of original compositions - of the 24 tunes on the album, 23 are hers. Produced by Seamus Egan of Solas, "Offbeat" has been greatly praised, including by Daniel Neely of the Irish Echo:

"... a disc of superlative music that features some wonderful original tunes, a bunch of incredible co-conspirators and some top class fiddle playing from one of the best."

Liz published a book of her compositions in 2010. "Collected" compiles the music that she began composing when just a child. Now in its second printing, "Collected" is what Liz's fans and fellow musicians have been clamoring for - for years.

It's these tunes, as well as Liz's vital performances on concert stages, television and radio, that have established her as one of traditional music's most sought after performers. Neil Tesser of the Chicago Reader marvels that "her quicksilver lines can captivate violin admirers way beyond the bounds of Hibernia." P.J. Curtis of the Irish American says that Liz "conjures up a dizzying mixture of the sweetest tones, the fastest runs, and the most dazzling display of musicianship imaginable." One of Liz's proudest concert moments was at the 1st American Congress of the Violin, hosted by Yehudi Menuhin.

In 1994, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Liz a National Heritage Fellowship for her great influence on Irish music in America, as a performer and a composer. First Lady Hillary Clinton presented the award which bestows national recognition on artists of international stature.


In 2011, Liz was awarded the Cumadóir TG4, the first American-born composer honored with Ireland's most significant traditional music prize.

Liz named the Female Musician of the Decade by Bill Margeson in the Irish American News and liveIreland's “Best of The Decade in Irish Music.”

Liz was honored at the 2010 iBAM (Irish Books, Arts, Music) Cultural Arts Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Music.

Liz was "Top Fiddle/Violin" in the 2010 Irish Music Awards poll.

The Irish Voice named Liz one of their 2010 50 Most Influential Women.

On March 17, 2009, Liz and John Doyle entertained President Barack Obama at the annual St. Patrick's Day luncheon at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The event was hosted by then Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and guests included the new Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, Mr. Brian Cowen.

"Double Play," Liz's 2009 duet album with John Doyle, is nominated for a 2010 Grammy for Best Traditional World Music Album.

Liz is named Irish Traditional Musician of the Year 2000 by Earle Hitchner of the Irish Echo.

"Lost in the Loop" wins an AFIM Indie Award in ceremonies May 5th, 2001 at the Regal Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. The Association for Independent Music named Liz's recording best in the Celtic/British Isles Category.

Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago proclaims Liz Carroll Day in Chicago on September 18, 1999.

Irish-American Magazine names Liz one of the Top 100 Irish Americans of 1995.

Liz is presented a National Heritage Award Fellowship in 1994 by Hillary Clinton. The award identifies Liz as a "Master Traditional Artist who has contributed to the shaping of our artistic traditions and to preserving the cultural diversity of the United States."

"Liz Carroll" album named a select record of American folk music by the Library of Congress in 1988.

All-Ireland Senior Fiddle Champion in 1975.

All-Ireland Senior Duet Champion, with Jimmy Keane, in 1975.

All-Ireland Junior Fiddle Champion in 1974.

Liz's Teachers

Liz began her musical studies at Visitation Grade School on Chicago's Southside. She began violin lessons when the piano her parents had rented couldn't make it to the second floor of the home on Garfield Boulevard. As the truck pulled away, and over Liz's tears, her parents agreed that Liz should take up the fiddle.

Liz's first teacher was Sister Francine, who would often admonish Liz after a lesson, "Now, who worked harder, me or you?" Actually, Sister Francine had an inspiring love for music, and recognized a kindred spirit in Liz.

When Sister Francine transferred, Liz continued classical training with Herbert Silberstein, a great violinist and conductor in the Chicago area. But it was in the latter stages of her time in grade school that Liz recognized that she'd had enough of the classics, and told her parents "I don't want you to waste your money."

From then on, Liz learned at the literal feet of the great Chicago traditional musicians, especially those of the Chicago Irish Musicians Association. Phil Durkin, for instance, formally taught Liz fiddle for about a year's time just before she became a teenager. From then on, Liz learned the tunes, and tested her own compositions, at the local seisúns held at local pubs, as well as in the basement of Old St. Patrick's Church in Chicago's West Loop. The list of these musicians is exhaustive, but Liz's key influences include the fiddler Johnny McGreevy, piper Joe Shannon, the Galway accordion player Joe Cooley, and flautists Seamus Cooley and Kevin Henry.

Liz also has been influenced by those who grew up alongside her in the music, including Jimmy Keane, Marty Fahey, Johnny Harling, and Michael Flatley, among many others who either grew up in Chicago or who came to the city and found a nurturing community of musicians.