Bronx-born Eileen Ivers has been playing the fiddle since she was a little girl. She wanted to play it since she was a toddler: her parents tell her she roamed about the house with a wooden spoon and a pink plastic guitar, mimicking a violin.
“I don’t remember it,” Ivers said with a laugh. A founding member of Irish-American “supergroup” Cherish the Ladies, led by whistle and flute player Joanie Madden (also of the Bronx), Ivers has performed with Riverdance, and is famous for her blue electric fiddle. She has released seven solo albums, and her eighth, “Scatter the Light,” comes out on Friday, March 13.
She has won nine All-Ireland fiddle championships, and a 10th for tenor banjo.
Like The Chieftains, Ivers has collaborated with musicians in many different styles; Cajun, French-Canadian, country.
She plays SOPAC on St. Patrick’s Day, Tuesday, March 17.
Her 2016 album “Beyond the Bog Road” was a deeply researched investigation of Irish music and its influences and connections, with a beautiful booklet.
“Scatter the Light” is different: it is 11 tracks of joyful, and some original music, including the final track “You Are Strong,” that uses looping violin, and Ivers’ voice in a rap intonation, telling the story of a friend who was sexually assaulted.
Ivers saw a friend’s post on Facebook and felt it so viscerally, she wanted to express it somehow. Her friend agreed, and the result is a unique track that has elements of Irish trad, and a wholly contemporary sound. Her friend said, “You made something beautiful out of something that was so horrible.”
Ivers may even put it out as a single, to raise money for charity.
She will never get tired of the violin, she said, there’s nothing it cannot do, and it’s “the closest thing to the human voice.” Driving around with her 10-year-old, who plays her old 3/4th-size violin, she may hear a Billie Eilish song and be inspired.
While the music is trad-inspired, there is not one traditional reel or jig on the CD: everything is composed.
“The timeline of folk music, there are things that are similar for sure,” she said with a laugh. “There’s a poppier sense to this album that came out. There’s a tune I wrote, ‘Zero G,’ that I wanted to be based on a four-chord progression. I wanted it to be a calming thing.”
It is natural for Ivers to think in terms of numbers: she was a magna cum laude graduate from Iona College in New York and has done post-graduate work in mathematics, too. At one point she thought she would work for NASA and be an engineer.
“Math fuels what I do,” she said. “The logic that’s in math, when we prove theorems, there’s beauty, elegance and creativity. Harmonies are pure math. Ratios and arrangements and tunes and timing. There’s a logic to it.”
“Scatter the Light” also includes some Christmas songs.
“There’s music, reflections, faith, and gratitude,” Ivers said. “There’s that uplifting quality of taking a chance and going for it. I included two seasonal songs because for me, in my life, I do thankfully go to a faithful place, and that does get me through many of life’s challenges.”