Sofa Sessions #8: International Women’s Day

Sofa Session #8 on the 8th March – how symmetrical. For International Women’s Day, I’ll be performing with a line-up of musicians, artists and writers keen to share their craft (and stories) with you along an international/travel theme, in a one-hour lunchtime special.


Roisin Whyte And The Murphy Sisters, who'll be performing at Sofa Sessions #8 in the Ulster HallThe Murphy Sisters, Celine and Angela, are a sister and singer-songwriter duo from south Derry, now based in Belfast. They are classically trained musicians; Celine on piano, Angela on violin. A love of folk, Irish Traditional and spiritual music have merged to influence their own performance and songwriting style. They are currently collaborating with Róisín Whyte, a nascent performer with a long career behind her as a music facilitator and community musician. Recently, Róisín has run singing sessions at the Ulster Hall, and was commissioned to deliver site-specific music workshops for the Ulster Museum and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in 2012. Piano and voice form the core of her work but a loop station, a fiddle (and a baby rattle) have sometimes played their part. Original music is mixed with occasional covers, and the collaboration with The Murphy Sisters throws the musical possibilities wide open.

DANI, who'll be performing at Sofa Sessions #8 at the Ulster HallRecently featured on Dublin City FM, DANI is a singer-songwriter based in Belfast. In her own words:

“I could say writing, singing, playing guitar, mandolin and a mixture of fun instruments is new to me but it isn’t. What is new to me is writing honestly, singing truthfully and playing with every fibre of integrity. I took time to travel in the summer of 2012 and came back with a new view to say the least. All or nothing, expect nothing accept everything and that’s what you’ll hear. I threw myself in sink or swim in September 2012 at the various open mics in Belfast with an abundance of original material. Since then it’s been on the up, playing gigs in Belfast and Dublin alike and excitement is brewing with the e.p. almost finished.”

I’m delighted to announce a new addition to the line-up for Friday: Demi-Leigh Pitchforth (14 years old), a schoolgirl from Orangefield High School, has written and recorded an official song for the #enoughfoodif campaign.

Demi-Leigh Pitchforth's "IF" for the #enoughfoodif campaign, which she'll perform at Sofa Sessions #8Demi-Leigh wrote the original version of It Could Be Different in a school Global Education workshop facilitated by Beyond Skin. Recognizing her talent, the Beyond Skin team, who are partners on the IF campaign, took her into a professional studio to record the song with musicians from Uganda, India and Northern Ireland.

The song will be released free online 8th March, and live versions will be performed at various events this year leading up the the G8 summit in June. Demi-Leigh’s coming to the Ulster Hall on her lunch break to perform at the Soul Ambition Sofa Sessions – I’m delighted to have her! She’ll be accompanied by up-and-coming singer/songwriter, Aidan Logan.

For more information visit and


Twins Claire and Karen Gibson who'll be showing and talking about some of their sculpture at Sofa Sessions #8Twin sisters Karen and Claire Gibson (Red Earth) graduated from the University of Ulster at Belfast in 1996, each with a BA Honours Degree, and then in 1998 with a Masters in Fine and Applied Art. Their sixteen years’ experience with ceramics has led them to experiment with many making processes and techniques, which have in turn led to a very distinct style of work. It has been described as beautiful, fresh, innovative, contemporary, modern and unique. Through honing their specialist skills, they both concentrate on hand building as the preferred method of making.

Claire and Karen’s fully-equipped pottery and framing studio, Red Earth, is open to the general public to call in and visit. For this edition of the Soul Ambition Sofa Sessions, they’ll be talking about their and displaying some of their pieces.

Visual Art

“Refuge” is the current exhibition in the Ulster Hall Group Space, by local artist Joanne Mullin.

“Refuge explores the nature of conflict within the home by examining shelters across Northern Ireland. It is a contemplative observation of a period of transition inside a temporary place – a place that contains traces of the inhabitants’ stories.
The works represent the psychology of space and how, despite every attempt to make a place feel like home, a resonance of the building’s underlying purpose still remains.”

Poet Manuela Moser, who'll be reading some of her work at Sofa Sessions #8Poetry

Manuela Moser was born in Morecambe in 1992. She is currently finishing a degree in English with Creative Writing at Queen’s University, Belfast. She edits the English Society Writers’ Journal and co-runs a monthly series of poetry readings called The Lifeboat on The Galley Cafe. Her poems have recently appeared in The Open Ear. She’ll be sharing a selection at Soul Ambition Sofa Sessions #8.


Writer Jan Carson will be reading from her new novel, Malcolm Orange Disappears, at Sofa Sessions #8Jan Carson is a Belfast-based writer. She has a number of short stories published in various literary journals and has recently completed her first novel, Malcolm Orange Disappears. When not writing she is a highly competitive reader, an avid film watcher and Education Community Heritage and Outreach Officer at the Ulster Hall.

As always, I’ll be chatting with all the artists involved, giving you a chance to get to know them as well as their work, and I’ll be performing some songs that reflect my love of travel, widening horizons and ideas of ‘home’.

Booking for this free event is not required! Feel free to check out the other great things happening in the Ulster Hall on International Women’s Day 2013. And I want to give special mention to an organisation I’ve partnered with many times over the years, Beyond Skin – they’re hosting an African Song & Drum workshop at 2:30 in the Ulster Hall, so please do stick around!

Hope to see you there,

Date: 8 March 2013
Time: 1-2pm
Venue: Ulster Hall, Belfast


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