Top 50 Power Women – 2016

Joanie Madden/Musician

One of the most prolific and visible Irish musicians and composers in the world, Joanie Madden has sold over 500,000 solo albums, performed on over 200 recordings including three Grammy-winning albums, and was the first American to win the Senior All-Ireland Championship on the tin whistle. For the past three decades, she has been the leader of the internationally renowned all-female traditional Irish music and dance ensemble, Cherish the Ladies, which just released their 16th album.

Having got her start playing in her father’s band, forming her own group was a different endeavor. “First we had to overcome the stereotype that people associated with having an all-girl band, the idea that we were just a marketing ploy and couldn’t perform at the same level as the boys,” she says. “Now, I’m happy to report that my band is paid on par as the tops in our field.”

Born in the Bronx to parents from Clare and Galway, she says, “I feel so fortunate to have made a living playing traditional Irish music and having traveled the world representing the rich traditions that I grew up learning in New York from the music masters who lovingly passed their music down to me.”