Jamie O’Reilly, singer

A letter from Jamie
November, 2021
Nine Months In

Dear Friend of the Arts

In summer of 2022, I will take the adventure of a lifetime, returning to Ireland after 40 years! The trip begins with my attending the XXVIII International James Joyce Symposium in Dublin, where my sister, Joyce Scholar Bridget O’Reilly will be a presenter. I am planning to perform In Old Chicago, Stories and Songs of A Beloved City, for the conference goers and general public, in coordination with members of the conference. We aim to perform at Trinity College, University of Dublin, where the conference will be held, or at another venue in the vicinity.

After Dublin, I will head west to the historic Skibbereen area of West Cork, where I will co-host The Roots Arts Gathering, a week-long arts festival with talented family and friends, near the home inherited by my brother’s apartner. Upon return to Chicago, myself and others will select family heirlooms, and artifacts, and solicit work: photography and art pieces for The Roots in Ireland Cultural Exhibition. We will develop a series of music and poetry programs. The exhibit will include work of local and international artisans presenting multi-media, textiles, handwork, and photography.

I have created an extensive marketing and fundraising effort for the yearlong-plus project Roots in Ireland, collaborating with women-owned businesses and skilled artisans. All the concerts have sold-out. I hired musicians, recording engineers, graphic and video designers. I was the recipient of an Artist Rescue Grant. I also launched a successful fundraising campaign. (See bullet-points below.)

Watch the Roots in Ireland video here: https://www.jamieoreilly.com/videos/jamie-oreilly-roots-in-ireland-a-video-a-musical-journey/

Listen to Jamie sing, with John on piano.

Jamie O’Reilly, Love’s Sweet Song, accompanied by John Erickson, piano


“BRAVA!  What a beautiful performance! Thank you so very, very much. Please let me know what I can do to make this dream happen. Know that you were your traditional brilliant self and your audience adored you.”

Belinda Bremner, Writer, Actor, Producer

What is the Roots in Ireland 2022 Project?

Stage 1. A year-long exploration of my vocal heritage, and the roots of our family’s Chicago Salon tradition, exploring the world of our Irish American relations: feisty activists, artists and writers, and the Irish literary revival in the early 20th century. The first stage of the project will culminate in a journey to Ireland, and a performance celebrating the Centenary of the James Joyce masterpiece Ulysses.

Stage 2.
Upon return to Chicago, I and others will solicit and select artifacts and art pieces for The Roots Cultural Exhibition and develop a series of programs. In addition to my own work, we will focus the exhibit on work of local artisans: textiles, handwork, and photography whose work is informed by their creative roots. As a producer and curator of many programs in the past, I have a seasoned group of creatives from whom I am already requesting work and proposals.

Why is Jamie doing this?
Climbing out of the pandemic, after a year of personal losses, and earning minimal business income, I kicked-off an ambitious cultural arts, community project with the sold-out “Roots in the Garden,” an outdoor music series, presented in distinctive Chicago area venues, thus reviving the Salon tradition of her artistic foremothers, which fostered for over 25 years –- until the pandemic!

The idea is to present In Old Chicago Salon, a stirring program about the artistic pursuits and activism of my Irish American relatives in Chicago during the Irish/Celtic Revival, the turn of century through WWI era. This is the vital creative period when James Joyce and fellow Irish writers in Dublin and Paris thrived on the world stage, and Chicago’s reputation as a formidable international city was on the rise. (Joyce’s benefactor Harriet Monroe, founder of Poetry Magazine, was a Chicagoan for a time!)

Nell (Eileen Dhu)

This is a program tracing, and demonstrating, my musical influences, and the roots of my vocal style on the Irish side. But it is so much more! In Old Chicago reimagines the Salons the O’Reilly family hosted in the early 1900s, with excerpts from the published works and letters of my great Aunt Mame and Nell, great Uncle Tex, and Aunt Dorothy, my father’s sister, read by me and others.

“Dottie” gave me her Irish music collection, and copies of talks she’d given on the songs, when I was at DePaul School of Music in Chicago. She attended my professional vocal debut, the John McCormick Centenary in 1984, which featured songs from these collections. She bequeathed me her piano when she died in 1987,

In my over forty year career as a singer and writer, I have created programs with themes as varied as the Irish famine and genocide, Irish American vaudeville, the Columbian Expostion of 1893. the Pullman strike, Irish myths, and goddesses, the Irish immigrant experience in America, and a show about the songs of my Irish Catholic Childhood.

My programs have been part of major historical cultural programming in Chicago in venues such as the Chicago Cultural Center, the Chicago History Museum, and the Irish American Heritage Center, The Newberry Library, Orchestra Hall, The Harold Washington Library. And multiple theaters, clubs, libraries and festivals.

My songs are featured on the world renowned WFMT Fine Arts radio station, WGN and others. (See the list of songs on program page here: https://www.jamieoreilly.com/in-old-chicago-program/) 

With this dream project, I am celebrating my musical and literary heritage and inviting others to do the same. YOUR SUPPORT is needed and appreciated!

Contribute here via Paypal. https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=UBBN4EZPF9MB6
There is a form as well. (see below)

With appreciation,

Jamie O’Reilly

Email: roots@jamieoreilly.com;
Cell 773-203-7661 


Jamie O’Reilly
Email: roots@jamieoreilly.com
Zelle: jamie.joanjor@gmail.com 
Contribute by check, Zelle or via Paypal (see link below)

The exciting Roots in Ireland 2022 Project is launched! This ambitious yearlong effort involves:

  • Research, reading, writing including webpages and weekly blogs
  • Recording and reviewing the musical catalog
  • Commissioning and recording a new song, Sanctuary City
  • Conceiving, producing and directinga sold-out concert of In Old Chicago: A Preview of Jamie’s Dublin Salon (Nov ‘21) 
  • Hiring a videographer
  • Creating a short film – completed Oct 2021
  • Designing and implementing a marketing and fundraising campaign
  • Implemented the fundraising. (Received an Artist Rescue grant)
  • Organizing a raffle, promoting the work of women artisans
  • Successful Facebook birthday fundraising and small business fundraiser through PayPal
  • Extensive social media outreach
  • Doing radio interviews
  • Hosting sold-out Roots in the Garden Salon Events (see image below) AND MOE
  • Developing business partnerships with women-owned businesses
  • Working with female artisans to create new work
  • Creating and assembling donor premiums
  • Producing virtual and in person public fundraising events
  • Co-hosting family history events
  • Seeking performance opportunities in Ireland
  • Developing a travel itinerary
  • Developing programming in Ireland
  • Documenting the project
  • Planning a public exhibition for 2022

Print the form.

The donor and sponsor form. Find it here at Paypal.

Read the In Old Chicago program here:

Poster for In Old Chicago

Listen on Jamie’s recordings pages, via audio player, and/or on Jamie’s Blog jamieoreilly.com

Love’s Sweet Song, I Know Where I’m Goin, In the Garrett, Annie Laurie, Sanctuary City,
The Holy City, She Would Sing the Kerry Dances with Jamie O’Reilly & The Rogues
The Foggy Dew. Red is the Rose, Blue River, Vinegar Man