RUNA – formed in 2008
“Best of all, RUNA sounds like no one else!” – Travis Rogers, Jr., Music Life & Times
Quickly gaining recognition as one of Irish music’s new “super-groups,” RUNA has been en- chanting audiences by pushing the boundaries of Irish folk music into the Americana and roots music formats since their formation in 2008. Interweaving the haunting melodies and exuber- ant tunes of Ireland and Scotland with the lush harmonies and intoxicating rhythms of jazz, bluegrass, flamenco and blues, they offer a thrilling and redefining take on traditional music.
The group has been honored internationally, winning Top Group and Top Traditional Group in the Irish Music Awards and four Independent Music Awards including Best Live Album, Best World/Traditional Song and Best Bluegrass Song.
“Timeless and flawless…” – Jim Allford, PA Music Scene
RUNA consists of vocalist and step-dancer, Shannon Lambert-Ryan of Philadelphia, Dublin-born guitarist, Fionán de Barra, Cheryl Prashker of Canada on percussion, Zach White of St. Louis on guitar, vocals and mandolin, and Maggie White of Kentucky on the fiddle and Mandolin.
RUNA recently released their fifth album, “RUNA: LIVE”, which was recorded at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, MD on Thursday, March 17th, 2016. Receiving lavish praise on both sides of the Atlantic, the album has been hailed as “an incredible masterpiece” – Marcene Bronson, The Celtic Crier
Seeking to preserve and continue a traditional culture in a modern age, RUNA creates the backbone of its signature roots sound from the musical and geographical diversity of its individually established band members. Their strive for excellence and creativity blazes a trail for the future of folk music, earning them the reputation as one of the most innovative Irish folk groups of this generation.
“Genuine and with endless innovation…” – John O’Brien, Jr., Ohio Irish American News
Coming from a variety of musical backgrounds including Celtic, folk, classical, and musical theatre, Shannon Lambert-Ryan, of Philadelphia, fronts RUNA with rich, vibrant vocals. She studied Music, Theatre, and History at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. For several years, Shannon worked as an actor in theatre and film productions, including the Arden Theatre Company’s “Sweeney Todd”, Brian Friel’s “Translations” with the Irish Repertory Theatre of Philadelphia, and M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village”. In 2004, her theatrical work took her to Italy, where she performed as Ermia in the world premiere of “Il Sogno di una Notte di Mezza Estate” (Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream) with the International Opera Theatre Company. She spent three years as the lead female vocalist in Boston-based, world music ensemble, the Guy Mendilow Band, before forming, RUNA, with husband and co-founder, Fionán de Barra. Shannon now acts as RUNA’s manager, as well as the band’s lead singer. Additionally, she has performed as a vocalist (singing in Irish and English) and step-dancer with a number of artists, including Moya Brennan, Keith and Kristyn Getty, Téada, John Flynn, and Joe Jencks. She was recently honoured by the Irish Music Awards with a nomination for Best Female Vocalist for 2012.
Fionán de Barra
Fionán started playing guitar professionally with Riverdance in the USA in 1999. Since then he has worked as musical director for Moya Brennan (of Clannad) and her band. He performed, co-wrote, arranged and recorded songs for her albums, Two Horizons (2003, nominated for a Grammy), An Irish Christmas (2005) and Signature (2006, which he also co-produced). He co-wrote music with her for the film To end all wars (2001). He has performed with Solas, Eileen Ivers, Camille O’Sullivan, Zoe Conway, Catriona McKay, Tommy Fleming, Francis Black, Damien Dempsey, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Galldubh and as musical director for Keith & Kristyn Getty. He now tours regularly with the internationally renowned Fiddlers Bid and Clannad. Fionán is also currently working with dancer Colin Dunne on his new show “Out of Time” as sound designer and live sound processing.
Cheryl Prashker studied classical percussion at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she was born and raised. She has toured Canada, U.S. Europe and Russia. She spent many years in NY City where she honed her skills of playing anything from Rock and Roll, Klezmer, to Celtic as well as Middle Eastern music. She now uses her special style of percussion to enhance the music of such artists as Jonathan Edwards, Pat Wictor, Tracy Grammer, Full Frontal Folk and her new group RUNA. Cheryl is currently a President of NERFA (Northeastern Regional Folk Alliance).
Zach began music classically on piano, cello, and voice before finding that his favorite sounds come from the guitar. After studying finger-style guitar and bluegrass flat-picking, he proceeded to attend Belmont University graduating with a BA in commercial guitar. Hailing from St. Louis, he now resides in Nashville as a freelance musician along with his wife fiddler Maggie White, and his instrumentation has expanded to include banjo, dobro, and mandolin. In addition to recording and producing studio sessions, he regularly tours with different artists including Keith and Kristyn Getty.
Maggie, a champion fiddle and mandolin player from Hopkinsville, KY., is emerging as one of the most talented young fiddle players in her new home – Nashville, TN. With bluegrass and classical training, Maggie brings a truly unique flavour to the RUNA sound. She has toured extensively with the Peter Mayer Group and with Keith & Kristyn Getty and has performed at The Grand Ole Opry on several occasions. She studied classical violin at Belmont College, winning the 2011 Concerto Competition. She, also, won the Georgia State Fiddle Championship in 2006. She has released two albums, My Turn in 2006 and another album with legendary fiddler, Buddy Spicher.