Gerry Creen emerged from the vibrant Belfast folk scene of the 1960s and 70s. In his early teens he began playing mandolin, tenor banjo and guitar to accompany his singing in youth club groups and folk bands, such as The Gleaners.
Gerry and Dessie Friel (father of Anna Friel) played in school concerts and coffee houses such as The Hobbit, The Ferryboat and The Boundary Bar, where they rubbed shoulders with musicians and singers such as David McWilliams, Den Warrick, Patsy Melarkey, Gillian McPherson, Sam Bracken and Dave Shannon and a host of traditional musicians all part of the vibrant traditional and contemporary Belfast folk scene. Gerry and Dessie supported The Dubliners and Johnny McEvoy at the Ulster Hall.
When Dessie left Belfast for college in England, Gerry headed off to The College of Art at the University of Ulster. Gerry and Hugh joined Peter Millar and Sam Bateman to form Rumplestiltskin. Rump was influenced by a very wide range of music including, World folk music, Blues and Rock. From The Cream and Hendrix to Fairport Convention, Crosby/Stills/Nash and The Incredible String Band. Rump was very experimental, using as many as 14 instruments, including, sitar and Indian harmonium, during a gig. Peter, Sam and Gerry wrote songs as individuals and occasionally collaborated on original songs.
Gerry was increasingly drawn into his career in Art but found some time to make guest appearances with Patsy Melarkey, Colin Higgins, Louis Gordon, Hugh Fearon and Peter McNally. Armed with a growing reputation as a singer/songwriter, honed in folk clubs associated with The Ulster Federation of Folk clubs such as The Sunflower, The Walnut, Downpatrick Folk club, The Copper Kettle (Enniskillen) etc. Gerry embarked on a part-time solo career playing the “Folk Circuit” of clubs and festivals around Ireland. In 1976 Gerry was awarded the prize for “Best Vocalist” at the Letterkenny International Folk Festival, and in 1979 his song “A Rose By Any Other Name” won best song at The Bass Ireland Song Festival. Gerry played at The Belfast Festival at Queens, five years in succession, culminating in the launch of his album, “A Rose by any other Name” at The Harp folk club in November 1986
Much of Gerry’s time was dedicated to his career as a teacher and his family life. For 30 years Gerry taught art at St. Louise’s Comprehensive College on the Falls Road in west Belfast. Since 2008 Gerry has been playing mainly solo gigs to promote his recent CD ‘Hindsight’ (2009) and his re-released album from 1986 ‘A Rose By Any Other Name’. Gerry has had a prominent place in the most recent Belfast/Nashville Singer/Songwriter Festivals and his song Lucky Star is part of the festival’s promotional CD “Voices of Belfast”. At several of its events the David Ervine Foundation invited him to perform his timeless and profoundly moving peace anthem ‘A Rose By Any Other Name’ which was written in 1977 during some of the darkest times of the Troubles. He was invited to perform at events by Healing Through Remembering and Wave Trauma Organisation– singing to audiences which included republicans, loyalists, politicians, members of the security forces and young people from different parts of a divided community.
Gerry’s more recent song “My Shoes” which is about how we label each other has also been used by Healing Through Remembering. In 2007 he wrote and performed the title track Tuesday’s Child on a double album for the children’s charity of the same name featuring the very best in Irish music – including Mary Black, Brian Kennedy, Duke Special, Foy Vance, Snow Patrol. Gerry continues to write songs about current issues including ecology, social issues and songs based on stories from history. He continues to play solo and tours in Ireland and Scotland.
“I lived in north Belfast and worked in a secondary school in west Belfast throughout the Troubles and was the victim of an attempted abduction by a loyalist gang in June 1972. I have witnessed first hand almost every aspect of the Troubles. As a songwriter I have attempted to address some of these issues from my perspective.”