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Come What May
Whether meeting the Obamas or hanging with rock royalty, 2011 has been a year to savour for Imelda May. Stuart Clark hears about the outrageous highs and one tendon-snapping low.
Stuart Clark, 16 Dec 2011
Musical years really don’t come any bigger than the one Imelda May is currently enjoying. From appearing at the Grammys with the legendary Jeff Beck to selling out two Christmas shows in the Dublin O2, the Liberties rockabilly queen has become a global phenomenon. Hell, she’s even met the President of the United States.
“Yeah, we were part of the College Green welcoming committee when he came back from Moneygall,” she beams. “He gave me some special presidential M&Ms, which will never be opened, and Michelle, who’s an absolutely gorgeous lady, chatted to me about Chicago and all the legendary musicians who come from there. I’d say you’d get some great tales if you went out on the tear with her!
“The whole day was amazing. We flew in specially to do the concert for them. From the stage you could see all the CIA men with the little microphones up their sleeves and the snipers on the roofs just in case. It was a massive operation.
“The meet-and-greet,” she continues, “took place in the Bank of Ireland Mint Room, which was an experience in itself. Before the President arrived, I had lovely chats with Gabriel Byrne, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Saoirse Ronan, The Coronas and all these other brilliant people.”
Having been the featured vocalist on Jeff Beck’s Emotion & Commotion album, which got to number 11 in America, Imelda was deemed sufficiently A-List to appear on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Conan and The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson.
“I met all sorts of really cool people like Julie Bowen from Modern Family, Piers Morgan and Richard Patrick Harris who was Doogie Howser MD way back when,” she enthuses. “Best of all though was being on Jay Leno with the animal trainer David Salmoni and getting to make a fuss of the lion cubs, baboon, pelicans and sloth called Lola he had with him. She was so cute!”
The year wasn’t without its “ouch!” moments though.
“It was on the last day of the tour in Canada,” she winces. “We’d arrived at this festival early, the music hadn’t started yet, so I went for a ramble and discovered the most beautiful lake you ever saw on the other side of this fence. Anyway, I jumped over and heard a big crack, which was my tendon snapping away from the bone. I also tore my ligaments, but still managed to play the show.”