People in Focus: The Ward Sisters on Music, Community and Reaching for the Stars…
We are unequivocally spoilt in County Tyrone when it comes to the array of Musical talent across our wonderful county and Tyrone Life consistently enjoy bringing features on the many gifted individuals in the entertainment industry from County Tyrone.
In this instance we go a stage further as we are not only featuring one terrific young singer but 3 – and they are sisters!
The very talented Ward Sisters from Loughmacrory have really made their mark in recent times and most recently saw Video Single for “Why” go viral with over 300,000 views already and still counting.
The 3 sisters – Colette, Cait and Caryn form a wonderful singing trio and of course have two other singing sisters in the family too – in Claire and Sarah. Indeed their father, Martin, is also a very popular and well known singer.
Tyrone Life caught up with the girls for the latest in our People in Focus Series and part of our look at Music in County Tyrone.
If you want to check out the Girls Live then there is a wonderful opportunity to do just that as they will be ‘Special Guests’ in a very unique and special “Musical Celebration” alongside another trio of fantastic Tyrone artists – Karl McGuckin, Malachi Cush and UK Voice Winner, Andrea Begley, in St. Mary’s Chapel, Loughmacrory, next Thursday 21st December. That event, entitled ‘O Holy Night, a Celebration of Christmas’ is currently on Sale and having heard the rehearsals that really promises to be an amazing Musical Treat!
Q&A, People in Focus profile with
The Ward Sisters – Colette, Karyn and Cait
Hobbies & Other interests:
- I have always been kept busy throughout my life with hobbies such as football and Irish Dancing. However, I recently graduated as a qualified primary school teacher and I am currently endeavouring to pursue a career in music with my sisters, Colette and Caryn. Singing has always been an important hobby in my life but I hope to carry it further throughout the rest of my life.
- I have had many hobbies and interests throughout my life. Irish dancing would have been the first hobbie I had. Myself and my sisters danced for ‘The O’Kane school of Irish Dancing’ and I always enjoyed practicing and attending a weekly Feis on a Sunday. Music however was always to the forefront of everything; I have always loved it and grew up in a family that surrounds itself with singing and playing musical instruments. I took part in Scor for many years representing Loughmacrory and enjoy both irish music and American Country.
School Years: Can you tell us a bit about your school years, three big moments that stand out for you and who would have had a big influence on you in those years:
- School life: A moment that stood out for me was the day I got my GCSE results. Mum was there with me and was anticipating the opening of the envelope. When I told her my results, she was as proud as punch and that for me was a great memory that I will never forget. Another very exciting moment was when the whole school gathered in the assembly hall of the Dean Maguirc College to watch the world cup qualifier hoping to see Ireland make the cut. Ireland scored two goals in the final minutes and made it through. Everyone was going crazy including the teachers. It was all very exciting.
- Irish Dancing: I was a proud member of the O’Kane School of Irish Dancing for over 20 years. The happiest moment for me was when we won the All Ireland Dancing Championships for the very first time. I was only 13 at the time and it is definitely one of the stand out moments of my life.
- My biggest influence: My biggest influence in life would have to be my parents. It might seem cliché but no matter what they always had faith in me and believed that with hard work you could do anything.
- Throughout my younger years I attended St. Teresa’s Primary School, Loughmacrory and Dean Maguirc College, Carrickmore along with my sisters and they were the best days of my life, looking back on them now. My biggest influence throughout my life, even though she is no longer here, is my mummy, Geraldine Ward.
“From the day I was born, she encouraged me to go after my dreams, believe in myself and to work for what I want. I have remembered everything she told me when she was alive and have carried it right through everything I have done, be it big or small. My mummy has shaped me into the person I am today and I will endeavour to do her proud.”
- I attended St Mary’s Primary School, Loughmacrory and the Dean Maguirc College, Carrickmore. I thoroughly enjoyed my school years and I was so lucky to receive such a fantastic education. My biggest influence throughout my school years was definitely my Mum and Dad. They encouraged each of us to pursue any dream we had and when we failed at something they encouraged us to always try again. That is something that always stands with me to this very day. So many moments stand out for me so I couldn’t even begin to narrow it down. I suppose though competing in ‘Stars in Yer Eyes’ and singing the Dixie Chicks with my sister’s stands out as this really kick started a love for singing, country music and a love for harmonies.
Music Life – My thoughts on…
Tell us about your singing, when you started, your development and favourite earliest memories:
- I started singing from a very young age and have always enjoyed it. When I hit my teens I became very anxious about performing and it was more a case that I was made to sing as opposed to wanting to sing, but that quickly changed. As I got older I became more confident. My fondest memory of singing, although extremely sad, was when we performed at my mums 1st year anniversary. We sang ‘Near the Cross’ and even though it was tough, I couldn’t help but feel proud of what we had just done. After that night we realised that we wanted the make a career out of singing as nothing in life can offer comfort in the same way that music can.
- It was March of this year that we released our first ever single ‘Mama’s Teaching Angels’ which was dedicated to our mum. We love bluegrass, American country and this is the kind of sound we hope to continue producing.
- As I said previously, singing has always been an important part of my life. From a young age I used to sing on my own as a solo singer and participated in singing competitions within school and community. Growing up in a musical family, it was inevitable that we were going to love music as well. A few years in, I decided to sing along with my sisters as a group, but after our dear mum passed away, our singing took a back seat. It wasn’t until our mums first year anniversary mass that my sisters and I sang a bluegrass hymn “Near The Cross” during the Reflection. After singing it, we agreed on the amazing feeling we felt and how singing made us feel as well as helping us feel close to our mummy. Although it was bittersweet, this is one of my favourite memories of singing that I have as it was the main starting point for The Ward Sisters. We have made so many memories throughout the past year, performing at Phil Macks Country Show, recording our album and just being together practicing – it is such a blessing to be able to experience this together.
- I started singing from a very young age and I have so many fantastic memories but one that definitely stands out for me is when the girls and I would gather crates in the backyard and make a stage were we would sing S Club 7 songs into our coke bottle microphones and put on a show.
- Initially myself, Colette and oldest sister Claire began singing in a group and competing in competitions, singing in shows, etc… and we did quite well. Cait then began singing with us in early 2009. With University and school, music took a back seat and at one point had completely stopped.
“It wasn’t until the death of our mother in 2013 when myself, Colette and Cait found a great comfort in Country music and in Bluegrass and decided after Mum’s first anniversary (were we sang “Near the Cross”) that we would really give the music a go and do ourselves, Dad and Mum proud. In a way I feel that it acted as a distraction for us and give us a strong focus. We never imagined it would bring so much happiness and opportunity into our lives.”
Your music genre, favourite songs to perform and plans for the future?
- As a lover of music, it is hard for me to say I like 1 genre personally. However, american country music is my all time favourite. My favourite songs to perform range from modern american country songs, right through to the old classics from George Jones and Merle Haggard. We have had a great few weeks and months leading up to the launch of our album and hope to make another very soon. We are currently preparing for our upcoming gigs in December and are really looking forward to having our own concert on the 17th of February in Ranfurly House, Dungannon. We are also delighted to be part of Phil Macks Uk Tour in March!
- Our music Genre would be quite diverse. It consists of mainly American Country music and Irish music, however we love taking modern day music and music from other genres and putting our own spin on it. I have so many songs I love to perform but Maren Moris ‘My Church’ is such a fantastic song, it is both country and quirky and is a really feel good number so probably that.
Tell us about recent single ‘Why’ – how you came to record it and the success of the song?
- We recorded ‘Why’ this time last year and it had been sitting in the pipe-line for a long time. We weren’t even sure if we were going to release it but we really felt like it was necessary. We wanted people to become further aware of suicide and mental health but also wanted the song to provide comfort to those affected by suicide.
- ‘Why’ has been a very important song to the girls and I, and it has done better than we could have hoped for. “Why” is a song for suicide awareness, an issue that is rife in our society today. With the increase in suicide, we decided to record and release the single, accompanied with a video in order for people out there to realise that they are not alone and that “it is ok not to be ok”. All proceeds from the song are going to PIPS charity, who work tirelessly to help those affected by suicide and self harm.
- We came across this song back in 2009 and I have honestly never been so affected by lyrics like I was in this song. The song somehow finds a way to describe the indescribable and, although it is a sad and emotive song, it is somehow encouraging as it focuses on asking “Why”. The song is extremely powerful and definitely gets people talking which is important as we all know that speaking out when feeling depressed or suicidal can have a positive influence on the outcome. We are completely overwhelmed at how well the song has done and is still doing, especially when the money from the song goes to PIPs (Public Initivative for the Prevention of Suicide). We are inundated every week with messages from those affected and for me, this is what has made the song a success. It is important as singers that we use our gifts for a greater good and so we are so grateful that we found this song and had the opportunity to record it.
Tell us about upcoming gigs and about ‘O Holy Night, a Christmas Celebration’ in your own community in Loughmacrory?
- We are really looking forward to ‘O Holy Night’ in Loughmacrory. We are honoured to share the experience with the extremley talented ‘Karl McGuckin, Malachi Cush, Andrea Begley and not forgetting our amazing choir in Loughmacrory. We will be singing ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ and ‘Down to the River’ which we perform without any music.
Our very first Concert: We are also having our first ever concert in the Square Box Theatre in Ranfurly House on 17th February, which will be ‘A Night with the Ward Sisters’. We have a three piece band backing us and we will be performing many classic country songs along with new releases, that will only be being released that night. You can get up close and personal with us and we are also having a very special guest there on the night. Tickets are available now.
- We are so excited to be performing in ‘O Holy Night, a Celebration of Christmas’ and sharing a musical, intimate night with those who are participating and being part of the event!
- On the 21st of December we will be performing in “O Holy Night” in Loughmacrory, which is such a fantastic community. The club and surrounding clubs within the parish and beyond always show great support to one another. We are delighted to be asked to sing alongside so many fantastic guests and we are so excited for this beautiful night – especially so close to Christmas time.
- We are also so excited to have our first ever Concert in Ranfurly House, Dungannon on the 17th of February 2018. It is sure to be a fantastic night and we really hope that people will come out, support us and have a really fantastic time. All information in relation to tickets can be accessed on our facebook page “Ward sisters Music” We have some beautiful songs that we will be sharing for the first time and it will truly be a wonderful nights entertainment.
- We are also part of Phil Macks Country Tour this year on the 16th to 19th of March in England, which is honestly a huge milestone for us and we are delighted to have been invited and are so eager to bring our sound to the UK.
Tyrone Life – My thoughts on…
Where you came from: Tell us a bit about your community/village where you grew up?
- I have lived in Mullaslin all of my life and have participated in many events within the Loughmacrory and Carrickmore community. I have had a very pleasant childhood right up to where I am now and I know this is partly due to the warm and inviting place that I have grown up in. Everyone is so welcoming and have been so supportive of my family and I, through both the good and bad times.
Many big names are emerging on the country music scene in Ireland in recent times again. Tell us about your experience so far in the industry and why you think that there has been such an explosion of popularity again in recent times:
- Country music has completely taken off again in Ireland, which I of course am so happy to see. Country music is incredible and it has the power to bring people together through dancing as well as through lyrics, which is what country people can relate to. My experience in the industry so far has been amazing and I have loved every minute of it. It is my favourite thing in life, and getting to carry it into a career is just a gift!
- So far the girls and I are thoroughly enjoying the Country Music scene; it is honestly like a home from home. People are so helpful and encouraging and this is so important for us as we have so much to learn. We have received so much support from lots of people but particularly the fantastic Sean Wallace who is an absolute gem to work with and just such a lovely, witty man. The Country music scene has had a major increase in popularity because it is such a wide ranging genre incorporating Irish Country, American country, folk music and has an extremely popular dance following. I can’t say Im surprised though, I have loved it all my life.
Social Life – My thoughts on…
Tell us about what things you enjoy best about the ‘weekend’ and favourite things to do?
- I really like to go shopping but also love spending time with my family. I love getting out and about and socialising. I also love to cook and bake when I get the time.
- Well as a 22 year old, I love a good old fashioned night out and mostly in Sallys of Omagh, which is extremely popular around this area. I love to spend time with my friends and my sisters. With singing and teaching taking a big part of my week, I love to just chill out at the weekend, flick on Netflix and sit in front of the fire with a hot cup of coffee!
- When it comes to my weekend, things are usually pretty hectic so when I get the chance I really do enjoy relaxing and unwinding. I love making use of the fantastic Lough, in Loughmacrory, and enjoying the fresh air. I will certainly be enjoying a nice glass of mulled wine in Omagh this Christmas.
Tell us about the best events/concerts that stand out for you and why?
- The best concert I’ve ever been to was ‘Brothers if the Sun Tour’ in Lincoln Financial Field Philadelphia. This was an open roof concert and Tim Mc Graw and Kenny Chesney were the headline acts. Myself and Caryn spent our summer of 2012 in Philadelphia and we got tickets for the concert, last minute, from our uncle Mick Treacy who also got us box seats which was a real bonus. Definitely the best concert I’ve ever attended. I also attended a concert this year in Long Beach LA, with my husband, while on our honeymoon. The concert was on the beach and it was a surreal experience.
- I have been to many events and concerts but my faveourites have to be the ‘Country To Country Concert’, where we seen The Dixie Chicks and Zac Brown alongside many other American artists. I also went to see Brad Paisley a few years ago, who was just incredible and confirmed my dreams in life to pursue a career in music. However, interestingly enough my favourite concert was literally one I never even attended. My two sisters, who I sing with, had the lucky opportunity of seeing the amazing Tim McGraw in Philadelphia and Caryn was very kind to ring me and let me listen for about half an hour to Tim singing his best songs! Although I wasn’t there, I sure felt like I was – hanging up the phone wasn’t easy!
- Tim Mc Graw and Kenny Chesney – This stand out for me because Tim Mc Graw is my favourite male country music singer and Kenny Chesney is just first class. Myself and Colette attended this concert at Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia, when we were staying with our Uncle Mick in America during the Summer of 2012. An absoloute unforgettable Summer in the States.
- Rascal Flatts – INEC Killarney. This concert was so fantastic, I grew up listening so Rascal Flats and have such appreciation for their sound and harmonies. Seeing them live was honestly surreal.
“Myself, Dad and the girls spent a few nights in Killarney a few months after Mum passed away and this concert gave us a sense of happiness in a time of deep sadness.”
Could you tell us what places you have travelled to (anywhere in the world) – and best memories & places that rally stood out?
- I travelled to America this year on my honeymoon. We went on a road trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas, where we stopped in Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Monterey and Los Angeles. This was the trip of a lifetime and I’d love to do it all over again.
- I have been to so many amazing places but as children, on our summer holidays, Mum and Dad took us to the Haven holidays camps all over the UK and these are definitely home to some of my best memories. I met so many amazing people and some of whom we still keep in contact with to this day.
Funniest people you know/have met:
I don’t think I could mention 3 funniest people I have met and not mention my Daddy, Martin Ward. Having been on the earth 22 years, I don’t think I have ever known a man who could make me laugh as much as him, without even having to say anything and even at times when I don’t want to. He is just hilarious and brightens up anyones day! To add to this collection, I need to mention Eamonn Donnelly, our pianist and neighbour. No matter how stressful a situation we find ourselves in, Eamonn will always find something funny to say and leave me in fits of laughing and even tears! I don’t think I could end to this list without adding my best friend Dearbhla Tunney who is an absolute gem when it comes to making me laugh. Be it in the car, a lecture hall or a social environment, Dearbhla can put me in some awful positions where I literally cannot control my laughing. There have been many days in university where I have found myself unable to even breathe she has me laughing so hard! She is a dear friend of mine and one of my biggest supporters in life!
- One Word Answer: Use one word for each of the above you think best describes these 3 people:
- The 3 Musketeers!
- Tell us your favourite Joke?
- My Dad told me he went for a memory scan last week and after asking him what his results were, he replied, “I can’t remember.”
- Funniest thing you would say has happened to you in your life:
- One of the funniest moments in my life has to be my sisters wedding day. I was a bridesmaid/singer and had the wonderful job of walking up the Aisle first in the chapel. Having looked up at our pianist, Eamonn, who was about to start the opening hymn, he looked at me as if to start making my way up the Aisle. About half way up, I noticed a lot of the guests smirking at me and heard my Daddy whispering “Cait get back down here”. When I turned around, I was humiliated to see the priest and altar servers behind me, who I should have been walking up after instead of in front off. I ran back down the isle and had to gather myself before walking up it…again.
- Funniest people you know/have met:
- My Dad is honestly the funniest man that I know. There isn’t a day goes by were he doesn’t have me in hysterics with laughter. He is our Rock and we love him so so much.
- My boyfriend Stephen is also really funny, although sometimes I don’t think he means to be. He is witty and can be generally silly which is why we work so well cause I can be very silly from time to time also.
My life & favourites…
- Cait: Celine Dion, Shania Twain and Rhonda Vincent.
- Colette: Maren Morris
- Caryn: Carrie Underwood
- Cait: George Jones, Rascal Flatts and Old Dominion.
- Colette: Chris Young
- Caryn: Tim Mc Graw
- Cait: Cole Sprouse and Leonardo DiCaprio
- Colette: Sandra Bullock
- Cait: The Isaacs
- Colette: Rascal Flatts
- Caryn: Rascal Flatts
- Cait: Michael Jackson, Earth Song
- Colette: Chris Young, Sober Saturday Night
- Caryn: Mama’s teaching angels how to sing (The Ward Sisters)
Cait: Riverdale, Hollyoaks and Bates Motel
- Colette: Homeland
- Caryn: Love Island and Hollyoaks
- Cait: The Great Gatsby
- Colette: County Storng/Walk the Line
- Caryn: The Shawshank Redemption and The Green mile
- Cait: Chicken Choimein
- Colette: Chocolate and Curry
- Caryn: Chicken Goujon baguette or Pic n mix (if that counts)
Place (apart from home):
- Cait: My Godmothers house just down the lane!
- Colette: My auntie Nuala’s
- Caryn: Philadelphia
- Cait: Heaney’s, Sixmilecross
- Colette: Sean Og’s
- Caryn: The Grand, Killarney
- Cait: Sallys
- Colette: Sallys
- Caryn: Sallys
- Cait: 02 Dublin
- Colette: 3Arena Dublin
- Caryn: INEC Killarney
Facebook or Twitter? Why?
- Cait: Facebook – an amazing form of communication with those who are far away!
- Colette: Facebook, I’ve never used twitter.
- Caryn: Facebook – A little bit of both can be a good mix
Best thing on the internet?
- Cait: 123movies
- Colette: YouTube
- Caryn: Online shopping, Which is probably the worst thing on the internet as well.
Name 2 people who you’ve always thought were ‘spitting doubles’:
- Cait: My Dad and his brother Paul.
- Colette: Me and my aunty Joanne
- Caryn: Natalie Portman and Keira Knightly
Inspirational Quote you like?
- Cait: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
- Colette: “Believe you can and you’re half way there”
- Caryn: “Winners are not those who never fail but those who never quit.”