The Irish American Heritage Center presents rising stars of Irish, folk and country music with The Willis Clan in concert this winter. This family of young musicians and dancers continue to wow audiences from the Grand Ole Opry to Milwaukee Irish Fest.
Some families go for quantity, some go for quality. But the Willis Clan asks, “Is it too much to ask for both?” The Willis Clan is a family like you have never seen. Parents Brenda and Toby and their 12 home-schooled children are a family of musicians, dancers, athletes, artists and writers living in Nashville, Tennessee. The Willis Clan was featured this past season on America’s Got Talent on NBC.
Living on the South side of Chicago, Brenda and Toby Willis were surrounded by Irish culture, however, they were not aware of most of it. But then came Riverdance, and Brenda and Toby were awestruck. Brenda recalls, “We had four young kids at the time, three of them girls. We wanted to get them involved in music and some type of sport but didn’t know what to do. When we saw Riverdance, we found our answer.”
The kids began taking Irish music and dance lessons, but events soon happened that rocked the Willis family, and they decided to leave Chicago and move to Nashville. The Willis children continued Irish dancing and soon began winning competitions, including eight National Championships in Swing Dance.
Meanwhile, the music training continued, and like their dance, it branched out into different genres. The Willis children learned pop, country, bluegrass and jazz. But they never stopped playing Irish music. In 2012, the Willis kids won The Fleadh Cheoil, the World’s Championship in Irish Music in Cavan, Ireland.
In addition to music and dance, the boys have won 10 State Wrestling Championships, the girls are accomplished horseback riders, and all are artists, writers and athletes.
According to Toby, “We have chosen to take paths less traveled, and love it. We hope to share a little of this joy and adventure with everybody we meet.”
And once you meet the Willis Clan, you will know this to be true.
The Willis Clan in concert is . Tickets are $20 for IAHC members, $25 for general admission and $12 for children 12 and under. To purchase tickets, call 773-282-7035 or click the link below.