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Image / Editorial

RuthAnne Cunningham on Irish Women in Harmony coming together for a Christmas song


by Lauren Heskin
21st Nov 2020
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Singer-songwriter RuthAnne Cunningham on writing the Irish Women in Harmony Christmas song and showcasing the breadth of female musical talent in this country.


“We announced that we were doing a Christmas song on the Late Late Show, but we hadn’t actually decided on a song yet,” explains RuthAnne of how Irish Women in Harmony’s new Christmas song “Together at Christmas” came to be. ”And afterwards the girls like, ‘so, are we doing a Christmas song?!’”

RuthAnne had written the festive tune on a hot morning in August when an idea came to her to combine all of the most famous Christmas lyrics and reimagine them in a new way. “I started with the chorus and just started singing,” beginning with Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” and then leading into “One More Sleep”. “All the lyrics lead to this new line and it’s all about wanting to be with loved ones at Christmas.”

Unsure what she would do with it at the time, she played as an option for an Irish Women in Harmony single and everyone was immediately on board. “I was chuffed they liked it and wanted to do it.”

For the Christmas single, IWIH put a call out for 12 tween girl singers to join them on the song. They received thousands of submissions from across the country, finally settling on 18 singers, six more than they had planned. RuthAnne said, “there were just too many good ones”. This song partners with ISPCC Childline, which seemed like a natural fit for a Christmas song with a tween choir and IWIH are hoping to replicate the success they had with SafeIreland and “Dreams” (you can still donate €4 fo SafeIreland by texting ‘safe’ to 50300). The Cranberries’ cover has so far raised €300,000 for domestic abuse victims in Ireland. 

“I got really emotional when I was sent the video of the new playground,” says RuthAnne of a new outdoor play area in a centre for children who suffered domestic abuse funded by the “Dreams” fund. “Now they have this gorgeous playground they can play in and be kids in. It has been amazing to see where the money is going and supporting people and we’re so thrilled to be a part of that,” she says.

However, as well as philanthropic plans, RuthAnne hopes that IWIH will shake up the Irish music scene a little bit. According to a new study by Why Not Her, no Irish female act has hit the singles top 10 charts in the last two years and the last Irish female with a number one in the album charts was Lisa Hannigans in 2016, almost five years ago. 

RuthAnne wanted to boost the visibility of Ireland’s amazing female musicians. “I really wanted to highlight the female talent in this country who are amazing and doing amazing things overseas and in Ireland,” says RuthAnne of her early concept for IWIH and the collective has certainly achieved that – with the huge success of “Dreams”, they’ve just started recording an album. It will feature covers and some originals and include a number of new Irish female artists and, RuthAnne hints, maybe a famous Irish male singer or two as well.

But first things first, let’s get this single to Christmas Number 1. You can listen on Spotify, iTunes or wherever you get your music and you can text “CHILDHOOD” to 50300 to donate €4 to ISPCC Childline.

Featured image: Irish Women in Harmony Twitter


Read more: The Lockdown Lowdown with the creator of Irish Women in Harmony and featured artists Soulé, Róisín O and Faye O’Rourke

Read more: The backstory to RuthAnne’s Irish Women in Harmony

Read more: Snow is falling: the Christmas playlist that gives us (terrible) flashbacks to our retail days

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