Derek Bell (1935-2002) was the legendary harpist and orchestral arranger for the five-time Grammy award winning group the Chieftains. The classically trained Bell joined The Chieftains in 1972, after a career as harpist with the Northern Ireland BBC Orchestra. Bell has several solo albums to his credit, in addition to the more than thirty recordings of the The Chieftains. He also gained a reputation, along with the other Chieftains, for unearthing rarely heard music.
The Chieftains are Ireland’s best-known interpreters of traditional Celtic music, playing to sell-out crowds around the world. They were officially named Ireland’s music ambassadors by the Irish government in 1989. They have lead the way in rediscovering the wealth of Irish music, going back for centuries, and have brought it to worldwide attention. They performed for Pope John Paul II and a record-breaking 1.35 million people in Dublin in 1979. They were the first group to perform on the Great Wall of China, and the first Irish group to play at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
For 31 years and as many albums, The Chieftains have been the most influential of the Irish folk musicians, credited with doing more to spread the appreciation of traditional Irish music than any other group in Ireland’s history.
Derek was widely considered to be one of the finest harpists in the world.