Fiona – Peace
‘Fiona’ was Fiona Molloy, a young singer from Derry. Online biographies tell us that she was from a very musical family and in her teens began operatic training under a succession of vocal coaches, including that of Dana. Fiona also learned guitar and joined the Thornhill College Folk Group. In 1975 she was asked by Derry SDLP councillor Danny Feeney and the Peace Women of Derry to sing at a local Peace Rally, and became the musical voice of the Peace People who formed the following year. With Peace People rallies, Fiona performed throughout Ireland, Britain and Germany. A ‘major recording label’ in London briefly signed her but it was the German Hansa label that eventually released the Peace Song anthem on this early 1977 single.
The A-side itself is a slow choral hymn, while the B-side is a simpler folk song showing something of the influence of Joan Baez on the young singer. The writing credits are shared by Danny Feeney – whose 14-year-old sister Kathleen had been killed by the Provisional IRA in 1973 – and James O’Hagan, about whom I know nothing, along with a mention of the Heath-Levy music publishing company. Danny’s brother Harry’s account of their sister’s murder also tells us that Danny was “very musical, playing the drums, guitar and involved in several bands”.
Based for a short period in London, Fiona tried unsuccessfully to break into the thriving musical theatre scene of the time but then visited an aunt in New York in July 1977 and “knew that this was where I wanted to be for the rest of my life!” She has lived in the United States ever since and still performs today, mainly entertaining service-members of the US military in Key West, Florida.