Sarah McQuaid tours her live-in-lockdown album to Brighton

Sarah McQuaid (contributed pic)Sarah McQuaid (contributed pic)
Sarah McQuaid (contributed pic)
Promoting her live-in-lockdown album The St Buryan Sessions, Cornwall-based singer-songwriter Sarah McQuaid performs at The Folklore Rooms in Brighton on Sunday, January 21.

Tickets are available on

Born in Spain to a Spanish father and American mother, Sarah grew up in Chicago, touring the US and Canada as a member of The Chicago Children’s Choir. In the mid-1990s she made her way to Ireland, where her authorship of The Irish DADGAD Guitar Book led to invitations to write regular music columns and reviews for Hot Press magazine and Dublin’s Evening Herald.

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Following her move to Cornwall in 2007 with her Irish husband and their two children, she swiftly struck up a friendship with a fellow mum outside the gates of their children’s school. The fellow mum turned out to be Zoë Pollock, writer and performer of 1991 UK top five single Sunshine On A Rainy Day.

The pair soon found themselves co-writing songs for an album released in 2008 under the band name Mama, lauded by MOJO’s Colin Irwin as “a pleasingly maverick mix” and by The Irish Times as “Janis Joplin’s freewheeling spirit crossed with Joni Mitchell's lyrical density.”

Sarah said: “I owe Zoë a massive debt of gratitude for getting me into songwriting in a serious way. Prior to that I’d thought of myself basically as a folk-singer who happened to write an occasional song, but through working with Zoë I not only learned a hell of a lot about the craft of songwriting, but also just the fact of someone of her calibre wanting to co-write with me was what finally gave me the confidence to start focusing on my own original material. And of course, if it weren’t for Zoë I’d never have met Martin” – Martin Stansbury, a longtime collaborator and former bandmate of Zoë’s who produced and engineered the Mama album, then became Sarah’s manager and sound engineer, accompanying her on all her tours worldwide since 2009.

In 2020, with her spring tour cut short due to the COVID-19 crisis, Sarah mounted a successful crowdfunding campaign to finance the filming and recording of a full-length live concert without audience in the beautiful medieval church of St Buryan, just over a mile from Sarah’s home. Martin produced and engineered the result, Sarah’s sixth solo album, The St Buryan Sessions, recorded live in lockdown in the church.

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Released in October 2021 on CD and limited-edition double LP, the album made it onto Best of 2021 lists on three continents and features solo performances by Sarah on acoustic and electric guitars, piano and floor tom drum, her distinctive vocals echoing through the space.

The entire album was filmed as it was being recorded, and videos of all 15 tracks can be viewed on Sarah’s website – –with details of the forthcoming concert and more information including a ten-minute video intro to Sarah and her music.

Sarah said she was delighted that her support act at the Brighton concert, promoted by Paul Adsett of terracecred, will be “the wonderful” Sylvie Lewis.

Tickets £15 (early bird £13), 8pm (doors 7.30pm).