IT has been said that "a song is not complete unless it has been sung by Mary Coughlan" and nowhere is this more evident than at a live gig.

The String Jam Club in Selkirk welcomes back arguably the greatest female singer to have emerged from Ireland in recent times.

The word 'legend' is not one to be used lightly, but in this case is entirely appropriate.

Whether into folk, blues or jazz, no one can fail to be moved by the emotional depth, expression & power in her voice, forged from an extraordinary life.

Born in Galway 60 years ago, Mary has battled and overcome childhood trauma, near-death from alcoholism and drug addiction.

After hitting rock-bottom and extensive periods in psychiatric hospitals and rehab centres, she literally pulled herself out of the dregs of a vodka bottle to confront the foundations of her problems head-on and sort out her life, and has been sober since 1993.

Allie Fox from the String Jam Club told us: "Mary has carved out a timeless and highly regarded career, with a legion of devoted fans worldwide.

"Her ability to connect so emotionally and emphatically with both the song and her audience is testament to her inner strength, and to the power of transformation and redemption.

"The stage is her home - to hear Mary sing is truly to be at the core of the human heart."

Since her first album, Tired and Emotional, rocketed her to overnight fame in 1985, she has recorded 15 further solo albums and toured in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Scandinavia and the UK.

Mary has drawn heavily from her legendary heroes: the grievous, teary outpourings of Billie Holiday (to whom she devoted a double album of her songs), the husky flirtations of Peggy Lee, Van Morrison's soulful wails, the defiant chanteusery of Edith Piaf. All are present and correct in her delivery. Even so, Mary, with her naked honesty makes every song her own; they belong to her and nobody else.

Allie added: "Mary live is in a league of her own and always has been as we can bear witness to from her last appearance at the club.

"Her songs resonate with life experience, pulling every ounce of emotion from the music.

"This is the real thing, sung from the depths of a woman's heart and soul, a survivor who - to paraphrase Leonard Cohen's famous words - was born with the gift of a golden voice."

Mary Coughlan will play the String Jam Club at the County Hotel on Saturday, November 18.

Tickets, priced at £18, are available from the venue by phone 01750-721233 and can be reserved for collection on the night.