CLARA Rose Monahan is a woman of many parts. However, the golden thread uniting her many different roles is music.
The blues singer and songwriter has toured with a string of top Irish acts including: Horslips, The Waterboys, Eleanor McEvoy, John Spillane and Jack L.
She recently released her own EP, Queen of the Late Night Radio, and has recorded an album — Baker Rose — with renowned singer and harmonica player Don Baker.
Week days she works as a music therapist for disability organisations and at Tallaght Hospital, where she gets to see close up the “profound work of music’’.
Her interest in the therapeutic value of music stems from her brother Daniel, who had cerebral palsy and died eight years ago at the age of 18.
“Daniel was profoundly affected by music. He just responded to it,’’ she says.
“Whenever myself and my parents sang together (her mum is the noted singer Liz Deery) he almost jumped out of the chair.
“He taught me a lot about the world though he never said a word. He was trapped in his own body but was a free spirit,” she says.
Aged 32 and in a relationship with Mark, it’s her sense of humour that helps to put things in perspective.
“It’s how I’ve gotten this far in life. It’s brought me through good times, bad times and weird times and it will be the last thing to leave me when I’m old and grey.”
On the day we talk, the weather cannot make up its mind — one minute it’s sunshine and smiles, the next it’s rain and frowns.
There’s lots to complain about but Clara Rose has her own take on what’s happening.
“It’s like a woman deciding what to wear,’’ she says.
* Clara Rose and Don Baker perform at Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh on August 6 and the Everyman Place, Cork, on August 26.
What shape are you in?
Pretty good. I try my best. I was a lucky woman until my mid-20s. I was always able to eat whatever I liked.
Now I run three to four times a week. It’s great for my fitness and a good way to destress. Sometimes I run with my great friend — we sort out all the world’s problems.
What are your healthiest eating habits?
I try to cut down on snacks because I’ve such a busy life.
I work weekends doing gigs and because of that meal planning is really important.
I have breakfast, lunch and dinner and no snacks. It doesn’t always work. But Don keeps me in check he always brings bananas for the road.
What are your guiltiest pleasures?
Cheese. I always get a cheese board if I’m out for a meal.
What would keep you awake at night?
I’m a great sleeper. I think I get it from my father. I can sleep anywhere — a great [skill] especially in my line of work.
How do you relax?
I love watching movies and having a nice meal with cheese. Also, spending the time with friends and family —it’s nourishing for the soul.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Janis Joplin, Nina Simone and Prince, one of the fallen in 2016, Don Baker and my brother Daniel — it would be good to get him back.
What’s your favourite smell?
I’ve always loved the smell of roses. And I always take time to smell the roses.
What would you like to change about your appearance?
I’d like to get my teeth sorted. Otherwise, I’m in a good place.
When is the last time you cried?
I shed a few tears at a wedding recently. My boyfriend read out a poem he had written for the groom, his brother. It was titled Forever Brother. A lot of people in the room were tearful.
What traits do you least like in others?
I hate when people are cruel, unkind and cold or emotionally unavailable.
What traits do you least like about yourself?
I say ‘yes’ too often and leave myself at the wayside. I get burnt out but I’m trying to rein it in.
Do you pray?
I speak to my brother a lot. I’m a spiritual person. I like to meditate and I do a bit of yoga as well.
What would cheer up your day?
It’s usually connected to music in some way. Music has an amazing ability to lift you out of your headspace.
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