Vocal Chords is a multi award winning music documentary series made by Athena Media for RTÉ Lyric fm presented by one of Ireland’s most acclaimed sean-nós singers Iarla Ó Lionáird made with the funding support of the BAI and the TV licence fee. The initial project, in 2015, An Odyssey of the Human Voice, maps a global exploration of the power of song. In a sonic journey across the world Iarla and the production team, including Robert Hope and Michael Gallen, recorded the stories and journeys of vocal experiences from South Africa to Siberia. The series posed that eternal question of ‘why do we sing, and what happens when we sing?’

Following from that initial five part series, the production team created a second strandVocal Chords In Conversation where Iarla meets and records with outstanding singers and discovers their motivation, influences and their life’s relationship with their voice and singing. We started with Peter Gabriel (2015) and then added episodes with Sinead Ó ConnorChristy MooreJulie FowlisPaul BradyPeggy Seeger and Maighread & Tríona Ní DhomhnaillMore recent guests include Glen HansardLinda Buckley and Veronica Dunne, with the full series now having been broadcast, all episodes are available to stream via Soundcloud




The series has won Gold twice at the New York Radio Festival – first in 2016 for the initial 5 part series and then in 2017 for the Paul Brady episode. The prototype for the In Conversation series with Peter Gabriel won Silver in New York for global music programme in 2015.

Vocal Chords has also been recognised at the Celtic Media Festival (2016) for the episode Singing Our Way Home.

‘Vocal Chords in Conversation with Peggy Seeger’ is now a GOLD Award Winner a the 2018 New York Festivals International Radio Awards.

Iarla Ó Lionáird in conversation with Maighread and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill

Iarla Ó Lionáird in conversation with Maighread and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill

The series producer is Helen Shaw. The audio editor is Pearse Ó Caoimh. Recordists are Robert Hope and Michael Gallen. Our thanks to the Dorota Kukieła and the Warsaw Cross Culture Festival and Anniken Gurijordet and the Oslo World Music Festival for their support. For more information you can view the press release here


Vocal Chords is an international multi-award winning series. It has been awarded two Golds and a Silver at the New York Radio Festival Awards 2015-2017. The In Conversation special with Peter Gabriel won Silver for best music programme in 2015 while the full five part documentary series on ‘An Odyssey of the Voice’ won Gold for music documentary work in 2016 and the In Conversation special with Paul Brady was again awarded Gold at the NY Radio Festival 2017



Iarla Accepting the NYF Radio Award




Vocal Chords is an Athena Media Production for RTÉ lyric fm made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. The Vocal Chords series producer is Helen Shaw, the audio editor is Pearse Ó Caoimh and the digital editor is John Howard



How to listen?

You can listen to the series via:


for selected highlights

vocal chords - audioboom channel


for episodes in-full