Tommy Makem, who died on 1 August, 2007, aged 74, was a popular folk singer regarded as ‘The Godfather’ of Irish music around the world.His performances on stage usually matched his enthusiasm for promoting Irish culture and by using a trusted banjo and tin whistle he delighted festival crowds on many occasions throughout his 40-year career.Being the son of Irish singer Sarah Makem he was both a solo artist and member of The Clancy Brothers singing group releasing several singles and albums under the name ‘The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem’.A born performer, Mr Makem secured fame on the American folk scene after being chosen as a promising newcomer while performing at the Newport folk festival in 1961. Over the coming years he made several TV and concert appearances making a name for himself among Irish-Americans.Tomm y Makem was born on 4 November, 1932, in Keady, County Armagh, in Northern Ireland. With his musical roots it wasn’t long before he was focussing upon a full time career as a singer, moving to America in 1955 to fulfil his potential.Holding down a job as a labourer in New Hampshire, an industrial injury forced him to give up this line of work, proving a reliable excuse to further embark on a career as a musician.Moving to New York to join the Clancy brothers in 1956 he recorded his first album, The Rising of The Moon, named after a famous Irish Ballad. With his first record under wraps he held out hope that the singing group would become hugely successful.Following the release of a second album in 1959, the group soon gained a reputation not only for the music they played but also their quirky dress sense regularly performing in Irish Aran knitwear sweaters.A television appearance on American variety programme The Ed Sullivan Show in 1961 was enough to highlight Mr Makem’s obvious talent as a group musician and he soon became a household name with Columbia records keen to help him achieve his dream.As the group’s success got bigger, Mr Makem alone was rewarded with a timely recognition as one of the two most promising acts beside upcoming artist and future star Joan Baez at the Newport folk festival.He released his first solo album entitled The Songs of Tommy Makem in 1961 and was gathering critical acclaim across America.Responding to his success Mr Makem thrived when performing in front of sell-out crowds, expanding a lot more into solo work during the 1960s and 70s after leaving The Clancy Brothers in 1969.He reunited on stage with ex-group member Liam Clancy in 1975 at a festival in Ohio, and the duo continued to tour together until March 1988. However Mr Makem’s musical career was not yet over as he continued to tour as a soloist regularly drawing in crowds across the world.Helping to bring a fresh and alternative approach to Irish folk music he was named amongst the top 100 Irish Americans of the 20th century by the aptly titled Irish America Magazine in December 1999.Also awarded the World Folk Music Association Lifetime Achievement award in the same year, the first ever Tommy Makem International Festival of Song was staged in the summer of 2000 in County Armagh attracting both local and worldwide folk fans.Mr Makem died following a long battle with lung cancer, passing away in the country he became most adored – America.