Nancy Johnston

Vocals, percussion, hardshoe


Born and raised in Somerville, MA
, Nancy Johnston sang alto in high school and college choirs. While living in London, UK for a brief period in the 70s, for a season she joined the Westminster Cathedral Community choir. The question wasn’t “why’s there a yank in this chorus of brits.” It was “pants or a dress?” Nancy was recruited to the tenor section. Those men just weren’t quite sure how to fit her in…

Moving to Los Angeles in the late 70’s, she co-founded the country band Smith & Rose and toured nearly a decade in the southwestern states.

Johnston came to Irish music through theater’s door. While finishing up her master’s degree in Irish Literature, she searched out “Translations” by renowned Irish playwright Brian Friel, a work exploring Irish identity and its connection to the native language. Arriving at The Celtic Arts Center, tucked off in a corner of Hollywood, she very much enjoyed the play. It was the pre-curtain music, however, that changed her life. Upon first hearing traditional Irish music from the house band, she was struck, and that night walked away as the vocalist for CRAICMORE. Since then, her rich, smoky contralto and way with a bodhran have become signatures of the group.