Q&A: Irish-born musician Danny Burns talks about his latest single, “Many Moons Ago,” and why he supports the Native American community
The connection between Native Americans and Irish descendants runs deep. The relationship began in the mid 1800’s when Native Americans offered relief to the Irish during the potato famine. Recently, many Irish people have returned the favor by donating to help Native American tribes impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, Irish born folk singer-songwriter Danny Burns released a song inspired by these gestures. “Many Moons Ago,” feat. Grammy award-winning folk singer Sarah Jarosz, pays tribute to the unique connection between these two cultures.
We recently caught up with Danny and learned more about his connection to Native Americans, his thought process when writing this song, and why he’s passionate about raising awareness around Native American communities. Today, we’re sharing our conversation with Danny:
PWNA: There’s been an outpouring of support for Native American communities from the Irish amid the COVID-19 pandemic. How do you feel about that?
DB: It makes me very proud of both communities, how our sense of family is so important in both cultures. It just shows how the bond has grown and survived for so long. It dates back to many years ago, with both Irish and Native Americans sharing similarities that a lot of people might not be aware of.
PWNA: What inspired you to record this song?
DB: I started writing this song when I was 14 years-old after starting a school project about the workhouses. These were the colonial housing projects where families could be fed and work, but in return they had to give up their land to the English. Similarly, in Ireland, there was a place where families were sent after the crops failed in the famine. During that time, half of the population of the island either left or died at the hands of the English. Ultimately, it took me a long time to finish this song, but it perfectly combined both cultures’ heritage once it was done.
PWNA: What’s the main message you’re hoping to convey with this song?
DB: The main message I really wanted to show was the bond and kindness we’ve shared over the generations, but in a way that conveyed the similarities we both share as well. We’re both indigenous peoples, with myself being from Ireland, and Native Americans in North America. We both share a history of colonial injustices, which is partially why we’ve maintained our friendships for so long. Recently, the Irish Lacrosse team volunteered their spot for the Iroquois Nationals team to take their place at the 2022 World Games.
PWNA: What’s your personal experience or connection to Native Americans?
DB: I have many close friends who are Native American. They range from fellow artists to lawyers and trade men. We had a tribal chairman attend our record release show in Washington, D.C. at the City Winery when we were promoting my last record. He is a member of the Little Shell Tribe in Great Falls, MT.
PWNA: What do you want people to take away from this song?
DB: I hope this song continues to grow the friendship between the Irish and Native American communities. In Ireland, we have so much respect for these great individuals and our strengthened relationship over time really solidifies that. It’s always my goal when writing a song to make music that connects people and tells a story from start to finish.
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