As a noted professional singer in the Midwest, Malley Keelan is an often-requested tenor soloist in churches and funeral homes and special events. Malley is a Lincoln High School graduate, class of 1966, and received his music degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Earl "Pete" Jenkins was his voice teacher. While there he sang leading tenor roles in opera and oratorio and was active in the Renaissance music ensemble. Another early interest was participation in the famed Pinewood Bowl productions as early as 1963 where he sang leading roles in The Sound of Music, Flower Drum Song and South Pacific between 1964-1977. He 1991 he returned as a special guest with his company The Lincoln Light Opera.
His Lincoln Light Opera Company was a partner with the Lincoln Civic Orchestra for seven seasons. As founding director and principal tenor of the Lincoln Light Opera Company in 1981 (Gilbert & Sullivan musicals and Americana revues), he produced many dinner theater and concert productions in the 1980s/90s, including The Mikado; H.M.S. Pinafore; Trial by Jury; The Pirates of Penzance and Ruddigore among them.
Under his leadership that ensemble and the Keelan family did over thirty concerts at historic St. Francis Chapel from 1988-1998, raising funds and awareness for its preservation. In 1998 the Lincoln Journal Star in an editorial called the Keelan Family & Friends concerts at the chapel "legendary."
With the sale of the chapel that year, the concerts became guests in major churches in Lincoln starting in 1999, notably St. Paul UMC; First Presbyterian; Trinity UMC; First Plymouth UCC; Rosemont Alliance; First UMC. 2014 marked the 27th year of the Keelan Christmas Celebration concert and was held at Christ UMC in Lincoln. Many celebrated Nebraska artists in music (including Mac McCune; Wilma Sundeen; Betsy Bobenhouse; Tom Trenney; Brent Shaw), literature (Nebraska poet laurete Bill Kloefkorn and United States poet laurete Ted Kooser) and media have given their time and talents to this annual event to raise funds for a chosen charity, since 2003 designated by the concert's primary sponsor, the American Advertising Federation of Lincoln. Butherus, Maser & Love Funeral Home is also a yearly sponsor. The Mother's Day Bouquet of Song charity concerts were presented1998-2011. The 27th annual Christmas concert was the most-successful of all, in receipts and attendance.
Malley has gained recognition as a foremost interpreter of the Irish tenor repertoire in the Midwest and was listed on the John McCormack Society website under the Irish Tenors link, with legendary tenor Frank Patterson, the PBS Irish Tenors, and others. In 1997 he and his family worked with Welsh artist Robin Huw Bowen and in 1999 Malley co-hosted with Leta Powell Drake an PBS fundraiser with the great Irish tenor Frank Patterson.
Starting in 1992 his family Kelly, Sean Michael and Maggie joined with him in presenting St. Patrick's Day concerts. His first recordings were called "Endearing Young Charms" and "A Song for Ireland" and were best-sellers in the 1990s. In March 2006 he released his compact disc entitled "The Old Irish Blessing" featuring "live" and studio recordings from 1983-2001.
He is often heard in area churches and has guested for seven years on the popular Arts for the Soul concert series at First Presbyterian Church in Lincoln. For sixteen seasons during the twenty-year period 1993 to 2012 Malley was a featured soloist in eighteen concerts with the popular Lincoln Municipal Band concert series in the summer at Antelope Park. He is the honorary tenor of the Nebraska Maiwand Jezails, a Sherlock Holmes scholars' scion society. His other interests include collecting signed celebrity photographs, primarily of noted classical musicians and film stars of the past. A particular interest in this area are items related to the career and life of John McCormack, Ireland's greatest singer.
From 1995-2004 he was a choral conductor in Lincoln churches, notably Southminster UMC; St. Joseph's Catholic Church and Vine UCC. He is also a familiar face and voice from his work on local and statewide public television (KOLN/KGIN; NET) and AM/FM radio (KFOR; KZUM; KUCV) as a performer or interviewer since the 1980s. In 1993 he started producing "Arts & Interests" on Community Access channel 13 in Lincoln which ran until Jan. 2010, the longest run of any program. From 1979-1996 he owned and operated Keelan's Music Shoppe selling primarily classical music; Celtic Corner Irish goods and the Late Show Video, specializing in classic films. Malley currently operates LarkSong Music Service as an internet and special order service for recorded music and harp sales and rentals.
Malley has now been before the public for over fifty years. In 2003, he was the recipient of the prestigious Lincoln, Nebraska Mayor's Leadership in the Arts Award, in honor and recognition of until then forty years of work as a singer, producer, and music & stage director in many theater, concert, radio and television activities.