Hear Ciaran's moving and inspirational story of growing up as a young musician in the pubs and clubs of war torn Northern Ireland ... from leaving the bombs and bullets to working with major stars like Madonna, Paul McCartney and Al Pacino and touring the world as the lead singer of INXS.
It's a Long Way to the Top
Ciaran Gribbin, like all of us, is on a journey. However his journey started a little differently. His began in a war zone in Northern Ireland where bombs were being dropped at a steady rate and riots pouring out on the streets was a normal sight.
Ciaran's family lived in the countryside and as a young boy the love of music was being handed down from generation to generation and Ciaran remembers hearing his uncle play the fiddle during family holidays. At nine years of age he wrote his first song, despite not being able to play an instrument himself. He begged his parents to buy him a guitar, but his mother insisted that he worked for it. So like any other good Irish boy, Ciaran went to the fields and gathered potatoes to save up for his first guitar. Once he saved up enough he began playing and practicing and putting all of his energy and focus into his love of music.
But the troubles of Northern Ireland continued and in his teen years, Ciaran came face to face with it. His band began performing in bars in Belfast every weekend while riots were taking place on the streets around them. Heavily armed, Balaclava clad members of the Ulster Volunteer Force were raiding the venues. Ciaran saw it as just a way of life and managed to stay focused on his dream through hard work and perseverance despite the political turmoil and violence. His music was making people sing, smile and dance and that encouraged him to keep going.
Ciaran knew though that there had to be more to music than playing in pubs and despite having no formal education, he applied to study music at the School of Music in Bangor, County Down. Something special was recognised in Ciaran and he was accepted to study alongside some of the finest musicians in Ireland.
He went on to tour with bands such as Snow Patrol, Scissor Sisters and Franz Ferdinand and began collaborating and co-writing with other musicians including Paul Oakenfold with whom he co-wrote Madonna's Grammy nominated hit single, Celebration.
Twenty years of working hard, playing, practicing and writing paid off. While on tour in Australia as his solo project Joe Echo, Ciaran met INXS keyboardist and songwriter Andrew Farriss at a party who introduced him to the rest of the band. The members of INXS were so impressed with Ciaran's vocal and song writing abilities that they asked him to become the lead vocalist of the band.
Ciaran had progressed in his journey from the dangerous streets of Belfast to taking the stage alongside some of his musical idols with 20,000 adoring fans in the crowd. Ciaran performed over fifty shows as INXS's front man and he continues to write and collaborate with musicians from around the world. He most recently signed with Snow Patrol's musical publishing house, Polar Patrol Publishing.
Ciaran is in strong demand as a corporate motivational speaker and as a facilitator/performer is his very own highly interactive Rock and Roll Teambuilding.
Ciaran's story of growing up during 'the troubles' in Northern Ireland and the difficulty of starting a career performing in clubs run by the IRA, not to mention a few life-threatening close calls, is an extraordinary and heart-warming journey, told with honesty, humour and pride. He is motivating and inspiring and encourages us to never give up on our dreams.
Client Comments for Ciaran Gribbin
Ciaran Gribbin is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland who has worked with artists including Snow Patrol, Madonna, Paul Oakenfold and Paul McCartney, and written and produced soundtracks for numerous feature films. From 2011 to 2012 Ciaran toured extensively throughout South America, Europe and Australia and recorded new material as frontman of Australian rock legends INXS.
In 2009 Ciaran made the decision to leave his band Leya to concentrate on a career as a solo artist with the freedom to write, record and perform his own songs. He soon found himself working on shows and tours with artists including Paul McCartney, The Script, Gotye, Powderfinger and James Morrison, whilst co-writing with various artists including Groove Armada and William Orbit. 2010 ended with a Grammy nomination for Madonna's worldwide hit single 'Celebration' which he co-wrote with the singer and producer Paul Oakenfold.
His songs have also appeared in TV programs from a USA Newsweek series to Australia's Home and Away and Neighbours, and in 2011 Ciaran wrote, recorded and co-produced all of the original songs for the Irish music-based comedy drama Killing Bono starring Ben Barnes and released through Paramount Pictures with a Sony Music soundtrack album.
Ciaran's other film work includes recording, co-producing and performing the songs in Philip Ridley's award-winning dark fantasy movie Heartless starring Jim Sturgess, with a soundtrack album released by Universal, as well as writing and performing two songs for Love and Suicide, the first American movie shot entirely on location in Cuba, and co-writing the main song for the upcoming feature film Imagine starring Al Pacino and Annette Bening.
In May 2012 the BBC flew Ciaran into Belfast from Australia to sing solo with The Ulster Orchestra in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the legendary Ulster Hall for TV and radio broadcast, and in August 2013 Ciaran released his latest single 'My Killer My King'.
In June 2014 Ciaran Gribbin signed with UK-based Polar Patrol Publishing as a songwriter. His skills, talent and international experience put him in an ideal place to co-write with and for a wide range of artists and to compose songs especially for TV, ads and movies.
- Ciaran Gribbin is a true musician who sings and plays from the heart. An engaging storyteller, his personal story was eye opening and his music goose-bump inducing. Mark Oats on fiddle added another great musical and entertaining dimension. Together, these warm and authentic musicians entertained and awakened some musical inspiration in everyone present. I would have no hesitation in recommending both or either of them for other events.
WBP Property Group
- Ciaran was an excellent performer. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed his performance and found Ciaran to be very warm and friendly. He spent quite a bit of time chatting with our delegates and was very warm and friendly. Top guy.
National Mortgage Brokers
- Ciaran provided a captivating insight into his life growing up in Northern Ireland and weaved the convention theme, Life Changing Conversations, into his presentation. These conversations helped shape his future and showed us that trusting in people, never giving up and striving forward against all odds to achieve your dreams, is possible. Ciaran was an absolute delight to work with and a truly engaging speaker.
Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia
- Thank you very much for your recommendation to have Ciaran Gribbin come and speak at Sydfest on Wednesday evening. He was incredibly well received and his address was genuine, meaningful and more importantly, it struck a chord with our college community. Furthermore, Ciaran's performances with our students were fantastic and inspiring. What I found most impressive, however, (and testament to his great character) was the time he took to work with our student musicians to fine tune the songs that they were all performing together. Without a doubt the students, have benefitted positively from the experience and will remember this experience for years to come.
Catholic Regional College Sydenham
- Thank you Ciaran for being part of our Grand Finale Luncheon at ASFA 2014. Your professionalism and commitment to meet our brief was outstanding and you exceeded all our expectations on the day. Having a blend of you telling your story and playing music was one of the most special combinations I have witnessed in 20+ years of organising events. Testament to its success, was looking around to 1,600 guests absolutely mesmerised. Congratulations.
The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia Limited
- Our team was amazed at the calibre of Ciaran and his team and felt special to have such a professional performance individualised for our event. Ciaran did a great job of enthusing and engaging our team in conjunction with meeting our corporate themes and objectives. I would happily recommend Ciaran for other corporations looking to bring an event to life.
Scentre Group WSCM, Westfield Australia New Zealand
- I really enjoyed not just your presentation and stories of growing up in Belfast but also the incredible gig you did for us. You and your band really rocked it. You are a true talent and an inspiration for perseverance. I still have the chorus of the song you created going through my head!
- Your presentation and performance at the gala dinner were absolutely fabulous. The band were sensational and I can't recall a time when the dance floor has remained full for the entire duration of the dance sets. You certainly played to the audience!
Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia
- One of the most extraordinary voices I've heard in a long time.
Gary Lightbody, Snow Patrol
- He's fantastic, a truly unique voice.
Sharon Corr, The Corrs
- His voice could draw blood from a stone, so desperate and pleading are his words that you can't help feeling your heart breaking just a little bit too.
Heather Crumley, Rock Midgets
- Gribbin's voice is big and beautiful. He is the kind of front man with a gentle manner and a longing for greatness as he stands with arms outstretched and eyes tight shut.
- Gribbin's voice, let off the leash, is extraordinary, soaring and dipping on eddies of emotion. He has proven he is the possessor of a fearsome, restless musical imagination.
Francis Jones, BBC
- A night made more amazing and inspirational by Ciaran Gribbin and his incredible band. Right from the start, Ciaran made things so easy and were a pleasure to work with. The process from booking to execution was seamless and the feedback from the keynote and performance has been overwhelming. I can't wait to book another big event so we can bring Ciaran and the team back!
Australian Institute of Management
Topic SynopsesIt's a Long Way to the Top...
Ciaran's story, of growing up in war-torn Northern Ireland, from gigging in Belfast through the bombs and violence of The Troubles to receiving a Grammy nomination with Madonna, walking out on stage in front of tens of thousands of people, hearing Al Pacino first sing his song 'Hey Baby Doll' for the upcoming feature film Imagine, and recording and performing throughout the world as the frontman of INXS. A motivational presentation about what it takes to make it in the music industry, and the importance of teamwork, collaboration and not giving up on your dreams.
In addition, Ciaran can couple his keynote address with...
Rock and Roll Teambuilding
Have you ever dreamed of being a rock star? Well now you can live that dream!
Bring your corporate event to life with our unique, fun, music experience.
Ciaran's team of musicians have worked with INXS, Crowded House, AC/DC, U2, Al Pacino, Madonna, Guns and Roses, Paul McCartney, Gotye and many more, and they want to share their experience and music with you!
Have your team:
• Sing in Harmony
• Dance like Lord of the Dance
• Perform Like Rock Gods Live on Stage
• Write a Song with a Grammy Nominated Songwriter
Whether solo with a recording loop station, accompanied by a fiddler in the Irish folk, bluegrass and classical traditions, or with a full band playing classic party songs including INXS's greatest hits, Ciaran offers a musical experience to suit any audience and environment.