Everybody’s favourite movie of 1991 was The Commitments. Well, maybe Silence of the Lambs, but that’s for a different website.
And what’s not to love about a bunch of northern Dublin misfits starting an R&B band? The soundtrack alone put the sounds of Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding into the ears of a whole new generation.
A key factor to the success of the film, and more particularly, the music, was the authenticity of the core characters in the band. Lead singer Declan Cuffe was played by 16-year-old Andrew Strong, who was from a musical family. Strong’s father, Robert, was the vocal coach for the film. Andrew has since released several albums, one of which has gone platinum. He rarely performs but has toured with Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Prince and Lenny Kravitz.
The backup singers, Natalie Murphy and Imelda Quirke, were played respectively by Maria Doyle and Angeline Ball. Doyle has been quite active musically over the years, releasing several albums and most recently working with John Prine and Damien Rice. Ball has become known more for her onscreen work than her musical pursuits, but she is a talented musician nonetheless. Ball has periodically scored music and provided vocals for the soundtracks to some of her film and TV work.
Perhaps the most successful actor/musician in the group is Glen Hansard, who played guitar player “Outspan” Foster in The Commitments. Prior to the movie, Hansard was in the successful Irish band, the Frames. His most prominent work to date however is as one-half of folk duo the Swell Season, with Czech singer Marketa Irglova. They rose to prominence in the film Once, which also earned them an Academy Award in 2007 for best original song, with “Falling Slowly.”
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