Juno award winning Canadian folk artist James Keelaghan has been called ‘Canada’s finest songwriter’ by the esteemed music critic Dave Marsh. Keelaghan is well known for his storytelling during concerts, giving the back story on many of his songs. Keelaghan specializes in historically based songs rooted in Canada and US history.
One of his most famous songs relates the tale of the devastation of the Mann Gulch fire of 1949 in the state of Montana. Fifteen smokejumpers parachuted in to fight the fire. When the winds turned they trapped and ultimately killed twelve of them. Keelaghan tells this true story of the smokejumpers’ experience through the point of view of Dodge, one of the only 3 remaining survivors.
James Keelaghan has won one Juno award and received nominations for two others. Along with Latin musician Oscar Lopez .he recorded a unique record of celtic latin fusion, a style they dubbed “Celtino”.
Regarding his interest in historical tales, Keelaghan says that it is as much a matter of the story finding him rather than him working to research possible songs. He says that often he will have a fan mention some obscure happening, and when Keelaghan follows up, he finds a song.
Only during the past decade has he decided that music is truly his career. Previously he worked on the assumption that soon he would go back to school and train as a lawyer.