Colleen McNally-Harris was born into an Irish-American musical family in Youngstown Ohio, the youngest of four children. Her parents, Mary and Jack McNally were both gifted musicians and all different types of music from Sacred to Big Band to Celtic always filled their home. Her father played the violin and trumpet as well as being a fine singer himself. Her mother was a singer, church organist and choir director for many years at Saint Dominic Church in Youngstown. Colleen and her siblings including eldest brother, Mickey, were encouraged by their parents to harmonize with one another when they sang. Colleen’s late brother, Barry McNally, was a professional Folk singer/songwriter with whom she and her sister, Sharyn, often performed. For as long as she can recall, singing was not just a part of her life, but also a part who she is. As a child she performed in local productions of The Sound of Music and The Music Man. Love of music truly was a vital part of daily life in the McNally home.
Colleen’s style of singing has been greatly influenced by the sacred music tradition of the Catholic Church where she began singing in the St. Dominic school choir in the first grade under the direction of Dominican sister, Sister Celine. There she was introduced to the early music of the Church, and developed her love for a capella singing and Gregorian Chant. The purity of sound that can be achieved in a capella, unornamented singing is something that truly can uplift and inspire. The intricate harmonies of the early music of the Church are so very beautiful and set the tone for prayer and contemplation. A highlight of her career was leading the singing during a Mass for Pilgrims at the Church of Santa Susanna, the American Catholic Church in Rome, during a pilgrimage in the Jubilee Year of 2000. Colleen has been a cantor in the Cathedral of Saint Columba in Youngstown for over twelve years, under the direction of Dr. Daniel Laginya. There she has performed as both soprano soloist and in a Renaissance Quartet for various occasions in the Church. As a member of the Youngstown Symphony Chorus for over twelve years Colleen performed with the chorus at Carnegie Hall in New York City on two different occasions, where the Chorus performed the Mozart Requiem and Handel’s Messiah.
After Colleen married and started her family, she continued to be involved in singing in her parish of St. Dominic. Her family understood that every Christmas and Easter would be her “busy” time in the Church and patiently supported her. She has sung for countless weddings, but is especially honored to have sung for many funeral liturgies as well, including the funeral Masses of two Bishops of the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, Bishop James Malone and most recently, Bishop Benedict Franzetta both of which were televised over the local Diocesan television station. She has been encouraged over the years by her husband, David, children, Jenny, Katy and Colin as well as by many loving family members and other supporters, all of whom have helped her to pursue her dream of sharing with others her voice and her interpretation of the songs she loves.
Visit some of Colleen’s favorite links by clicking here.