In The Beginning...
At the age of eight after being told "we have enough drummers" Skip Healy learned to play the fife with the Kentish Guards Fife & Drum Corps in his hometown of East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Now, some 45 years later, he is widely regarded as one of the finest American fife and Traditional Irish wooden flute players makers and educators that this country has ever produced. His playing style, heralded as "at once traditional and contemporary", breathes new life into his enormous repertoire of tunes.
Wherever he plays, "the music flows when Healy is in the room". In music sessions, concerts, radio or television appearences throughout North America and Europe he leaves both audiences and fellow musicians spellbound and eager for his next appearence. His seemingly endless supply of stories are told with an easy humor and his knowledge of the history of his music brings yet another dimension to the evenings entertainment.
Skip has been successful in music competitions as well as on the concert stage. Numerous Championships for solo and quartet American fife playing and C.C.E. titles for Irish flute and tin whistle have been awarded to him. In 1989, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts honored him with the title of "Master Musician for the State of Rhode Island."
Beginning in 1976 Skip was an advisor to and performer with the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps at Epcot (Walt Disney World), Lake Buena Vista, FL.
In 2010 Skip relocated to Wohlen, Switzerland. This beautiful town is located in Kanton Aargau in the Swiss German speaking region of Switzerland about halfway between Basel and Zurich. In 2015 he closed his shop formerly located in his home town East Greenwich, Rhode Island to its current location in Wohlen, Switzerland.
Collaborations & Teaching
For many years Skip was actively involved with the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (R.I.S.C.A.) Folk Arts Apprenticeship program and the New England Council on the Arts, from whom he received many State and regional grants to teach fife and flute playing to students throughout New England. A concert tour in 1982 led him to Basel, Switzerland for the first time. His playing and teaching style became so popular that he has taught American fife and Irish flute music to scores of Swiss musicians since then. His reputation for unique teaching styles and theories (private, group, and master class settings) has also grown over the last 45 years. Now a frequent lecturer at the university level, Healy was also the Founder and Artistic Director of his own annual wooden flute festival called Wind On The Bay in his hometown of East Greenwich, RI before relocating to Switzerland.
His skills as a composer, arranger, instructor/lecturor, studio musician and performer have continued to become ever more in demand in traditional as well as world music settings. Great Irish musicians including fiddler Liz Carroll and flute player Lawrence Nugent, Solas, and other individuals and bands across the U.S., Canada, and Europe have recorded Skip's original flute compositions.
Throughout his career Skip has performed and recorded with an all-star selection of musicians. In the traditional Irish music scene, Skip has performed with John Skelton, Grey Larson, Joannie Madden, Aoife Clancey, June McCormack, Seamus O'Kane, Carmel Gunning, Aine Minogue, Johnny Cunningham (RIP), Michael (RIP) and Triona O'Domhnaill, Robbie O'Connell, Mick Moloney, John Doyle, John Williams, Paddy Keenan, Paddy Reynolds (RIP), Kevin Burke, Phillip Donnelly, Lui Collins.
Skip was featured in an episode of Showtimes popular television series "Brotherhood" during their first season playing uillieann pipes in the summer of 2007. No less than the great Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan called Skip "a great musician and a delight to work with".
In the summer of 2008, an extremely high honor was extended to Skip by the world reknowned Native American musician R.C. Nakai, by being invited as a performer/instrument builder to the INAFA (International Native American Flute Association) World convention in Eau Clare Wisconson. It was here that Mr. Nakai invited Skip to share the stage with him during the featured segment of the main festival concert. Skip was also asked to perform on the CD of this great event which has just been released entitled "Clear Water Reflections", a collection of Native American and World flute music featuring R.C.Nakai and many other phenominal musicians.
It was also in this summer that Skip was invited to Sligo, Ireland by the "Sligo Maid" herself, the great musician and instructor Carmel Gunning to be the principal flute instructor at her Queen Maeve school of traditional Irish music and Dance. Carmel was so taken with Skips instruments that she is now herself a player of one of Skips flutes.
Another highlight of 2008 was Skips premier solo performences in New York Citys world reknowned Carnigie Hall and Lincoln Center.
In July of 2012, Skip was featured in the world famous Basel Tattoo (and also the Berlin Tattoo in the O2 Center , Berlin Germany), the second largest outdoor Military tattoo in the world. He performed both in a duet with the great Highland piper Stuart Samson and most memorably as soloist in the massed bands "Evening Hymn" performance of the piece "Band of Brothers" which became the emotional highpoint of the entire event. Skip and Stewart were asked to reprise this performance in the Basel Christmas Tattoo 2018 in Basel, Switzerland. You can view this performence in the Youtube video featured in the "Past Events" section.
In 2013 Skip was asked to produce and perform in a special Celtc music and dance performance in the Avenches Tattoo held in Avenches, Switzerland.
More recently Skip performs with the great musicans Mike Katz and Sean O'Donnel of Battlefield Band fame. He also regulary performes with his friend of over 20 years, guitarist, singer and "BFAM" Olivier Leclercq. In the past few years Skip has also often performed with singer, songwriter Sami Moor of Basel, Switzerland. There are also many other players and friends but they are just too numerous to list here.
Recordings & Solo Projects
While he has played on over 40 recordings and literally hundreds of international radio and television shows, his solo recordings, Grammy-nominated "Empty Pockets" (1985), "Live from New York" (1987), and "Farewell New England Shores" (1991), "Purgatory Chasm" (2001), have won him both popular and critical acclaim. In 2003, he also released "Have Ye This One?", a compilation of thirty tunes played at various complexities and speeds to accommodate students at any skill level. This CD also has an accompanying tunebook. Skip then formed "The Cartel", a spirited band featuring Healy, Marc Bernier, Mark Poloka. In 2006, The Cartel released its first self-titled CD "The Cartel - Songs and Tunes of Adventure and Loss". In 2014 Skip released a live concert recording entitled "LIVE! in Wohlen" featuring the great Olivier Leclercq. In 2015 he was asked by his great friend Sami Moor to play on Sami's CD "Old and New".
In January 2000, Skip's recordings were added to Ireland's Traditional Music Archive in Dublin.
The Healy Flute Company
Skip established the Healy Fife and Flute Company in East Greenwich, Rhode Island in 1993. He specializes in the designing and building of a wide variety of wooden flutes, fifes, and piccolos. Beautifully finished and trimmed with sterling silver, Skip has supplied these fine instruments to musicians all over the world. In 2015 Skip relocated to Wohlen, Switzerland where he continues to design and build a wide range of traditional fifes flutes and piccolos.
A brief sampling of some of Skip's reviews:
"Skip Healy...regarded as the world's greatest fifer."
-- Yankee Magazine, November 2000, Rhode Island Wants You, P. 26
"Skip Healy creates memories that last for a lifetime"
-- Eric Juliliard, Founder and Director Basel Tattoo.
"Enough energy to light up the city."
-- Basler Zeitung (Basel Switzerland )
"Something to crow about, I took great pleasure in it."
-- Irish poet and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heany on Skip's recording "Farewell New England Shores"
"One of the finest Irish flutists in the U.S. today."
-- Irish Voice (N.Y.)
"Skip sprays sixteenth notes like machine gun bullets, dazzling listeners with his daring high speed improvisations."
-- Don Meade (Blarney Stone, New York City )
"The brightest, rowdiest Irish flute player you'll hear on either side of the Atlantic Ocean."
-- Laura Travis, "The Nice Paper" (Prov. R.I.)