Rockin' Rowley: A new queen of country in the making
Published 13/07/2016 | 02:30
The Irish country music scene is dominated by male stars, thanks to the support they enjoy from female fans. Ask girl singers and they'll tell you that it's a tough battle for them to build a following and eke out a sustainable living.
However, two glamorous, talented and ambitious entertainers are bucking the trend as they strike a blow for girl power.
Lisa McHugh, the Glasgow-born singer of Irish descent, has earned the title of new young queen of country.
Now she has been joined on the scene by 26-year-old Cliona Hagan, who won the newcomer of the year gong at the recent RTE Irish Country Music Awards. She first shot to fame when she reached the final of The All Ireland Talent Show on RTE TV in 2009 after being mentored by Eurovision Song Contest winner Dana.
"Dana is such a lady and she gave me so much great advice at the time," Cliona says. "It was amazing how fate brought us together.
"When I was in my first year in secondary school I sang 'All Kinds Of Everything' in my school play. I never imagined that I'd end up working with Dana."
Cliona is a classically trained singer and music teacher, but she insists that country is her first love. The young Tyrone woman says: "Whether it was American or Irish country, I loved it, with my favourites being the Dixie Chicks and Garth Brooks… and of course the great Irish country singers like Daniel O'Donnell, Philomena Begley and Susan McCann.
"I was thrilled at the RTE country awards show when Daniel O'Donnell came over and told me how wonderful a singer he thought I was. That made my night."
Cliona will release her debut album in September.
An indomitable duo
Evergreen duo Foster and Allen are hoping to tap into the phenomenal appeal of Mrs Brown's Boys with the release of a tribute song to Ireland's most famous Mammy.
heir new up-beat single, 'Mrs Brown's Boys', is an original from Irish singer-songwriter PJ Murrihy from Co Clare.
It's sure to be a hit with fans of the TV series and a new favourite in Mick Foster and Tony Allen's extensive repertoire.
Mick and Tony have just returned from a six-week concert tour of Australia as they celebrate their 40th anniversary in showbusiness.
The indomitable duo have had a remarkable career that includes a British chart hit in 1982 with 'A Bunch Of Thyme' leading to a performance on BBC's Top Of The Pops.
Despite going bankrupt in recent years after falling victim to a tax consultant, the life-long friends haven't lost their passion for performing. "Nobody died, the show goes on," Mick says.
Derek goes back to his roots
Irish 'Songwriter of the Year' Derek Ryan is giving fans the opportunity to see him perform his original songs and personal favourites in intimate venues this month.
Derek has played all the major venues in the world, including London's Wembley Arena, with his former boyband D-Side, but the young country star says he loves getting up close and personal with fans in small theatre-style settings.
Derek's forthcoming shows on this special acoustic tour include The Mayfly Inn, Kesh, Co Fermanagh (July 21) and The Mill Theatre, Dundrum, Dublin (July 28).