Katie Grennan has been connected to the music and dance of Ireland from an early age. She was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she had access to world renowned performing arts programs. She has continued her passion for Irish music and dance in her adulthood, teaching and performing across North America and the world.
An Early Start
Katie’s musical training began at the tender age of 4 with classical violin, and she was named as one of WQED’s “Musical Kids” after only a few years of instruction. Throughout Katie’s childhood and teenage years, she was the concert master of several respected youth orchestras across Pennsylvania, including TRYPO’s Symphonette, North Allegheny’s orchestra and North Allegheny’s Golden Strolling Strings Program. Additionally, she was a first violinist in multiple PMEA festival orchestras and the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra, where she participated in her first European tour as a teenager.
As an 8 year old child, Katie caught the Irish dance bug during her very first lesson at the internationally-ranked Burke School of Irish Dance (now the Burke-Conroy School of Irish Dance under the direction of Theresa Burke, Mary Conroy-Adams and Laura Conroy-Rust). She quickly climbed the competitive ranks and qualified for her first world championship in Ireland at the young age of 12 and subsequently every year thereafter throughout her dance career at the Midwest Oireachtas and North American Irish Dance Championships. Katie has since appeared multiple times as both a fiddler and dancer with well-known artists touring through Pittsburgh such The Chieftains, Cherish the Ladies, and Eileen Ivers, Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. She is the only known performer to both dance and play music at all three major concert halls in Pittsburgh: The Benedum, The Byham, and Heinz Hall!
College and Beyond
Katie went to college at the University of Notre Dame, she double majored in Accounting and Psychology, yet was still able to broaden her experience in both music and dance. As a member of the Notre Dame Irish Dance club, she performed in front of thousands at a multitude of events including the annual “The Shirt” unveiling, football pep rallies, men’s and woman’s basketball games, and an array of private events. She refined her teaching skills by co-training and organizing the first ever Ceili Club group to compete in the All-Ireland Championship in Killarney, alongside World Champion Deirdre Robinett. The group took unanimous first place, which sparked a wonderful annual tradition for campus organization.
Upon graduation from the University of Notre Dame, Katie competed in the North American Irish Dance championships one final time, and after another top 10 finish, she shifted her focus towards teaching and performance. She sat for the official Irish Dance teachers examination (T.C.R.G.), administered by An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha, the highest governing body in Irish dance. She passed with high honors and scored 100% on the music portion of the exam.
Life in Chicago
She moved to Chicago, where she resided for five years. During her time in the Windy City, she worked both as as an analyst at a management consulting firm that focused on the healthcare sector and as a lead instructor at the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance. She also began playing traditional Irish music alongside many of the city’s finest musicians, including John Williams, Maurice Lennon, Dennis Cahill, Jimmy Moore, Kathleen Keane, and Paddy Homan. Katie has been featured in many professional touring productions, most recently the Trinity Irish Dance Company, Michael Londra’s Celtic Fire, and Hammerstep (featured on America’s Got Talent in 2013), which have brought her to many venues across the United States, Europe and Asia including Japan, Taiwan, China, Germany, and Ireland. She was featured in the November 2015 issue of Irish American News and the August 2014 issue of the Irish Dancing Magazine. In 2017, she appeared on “A Prairie Home Companion” hosted by Chris Thile as a guest along a variety of artists including Andrew Bird and fellow Irish-traditional musician John Williams.
Grad School and Her First Album
In 2015, she released her first solo album entitled “Between Worlds”, designed for dancers to practice to and for listeners to enjoy. Katie currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and has recently completed Masters in Arts Management at Carnegie Mellon University with a focus on the performing arts and education outreach. She continues to teach Irish dance at the Burke-Conroy School of Irish Dance and fiddle lessons independently.
New Projects and Beyond
Katie is also involved in a variety of independent projects, including indie/folk group The Little Family Band, originally from Detroit but now based in Chicago and The Johnnies, a group of Chicago area trad-heads. Additionally, Katie is an in-demand feis (Irish dance competition) musician and is also available to play at private functions, such as weddings or receptions. Contact Katie if you would like to book her for an upcoming event or workshop!
Katie is now actively touring with beloved Celtic band Gaelic Storm as their new fiddle player. Gaelic Storm was the featured band in the movie Titanic and has been touring extensively ever since. Check out www.gaelicstorm.com for tour dates and appearances.