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Sunday 11 December 2016

Rockin Rowley: Lisa's hard road to the top

Eddie Rowley

Published 08/06/2016 | 02:30

Country star Lisa McHugh.
Country star Lisa McHugh.
Christy Moore is back in the charts with a new album, 'Lily'.
Jimmy Magee

'It's A Man's Man's Man's World', the James Brown song says. And country star Lisa McHugh couldn't agree more.

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Lisa is Ireland's most successful contemporary female country singer, but the talented and glamorous young woman says she's had to work harder than the boys in the business in order to be taken seriously as a performer.

"I've done over a thousand shows in the last five years and it's not been an easy road," Lisa reveals.

"But I'm a very determined young woman and when people see that you have a strong work ethic it wins them over."

Born and reared in Glasgow by Irish parents - her mum is from Falcarragh, Co Donegal, and her dad a native of Castlederg, Co Tyrone - Lisa came to Ireland at the age of 22 with the dream of launching her career here.

Stylish Lisa's arrival was around the same time that Nathan Carter moved over from Liverpool with a similar ambition.

The young pair met in Ireland and became an item for several months.

Although their relationship didn't last, they are still best pals. Last year they recorded a duet called 'You Can't Make Old Friends.'

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"We saw each other for a few months, but it became too difficult as we both got so busy with our careers," Lisa says. "We decided to go our separate ways, but we both live in Enniskillen now and are great friends."

Meanwhile, Lisa's singing career is flourishing with fans promised a new album at the end of the summer. To whet the appetite, she has just released a single called, 'High Cotton', which was originally a hit for American country music group, Alabama.

While keeping to the Americana roots, Lisa has put her own fresh stamp on the song. It is now available for download from iTunes.

Christy gilds the Lily

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It's hard to imagine it today, but once upon a time Christy Moore was a banker. In those quaint days long before the term 'Celtic Tiger' was coined, banking was a conservative, secure business.

To have a good job in the bank in the 1960s was to be envied, so Christy was on the pig's back, or so it seemed. In reality, he despised the restrictions the regime imposed on him, not least being the dress code.

"I always felt uncomfortable in a shirt because I have a f**kin' big neck," Christy laughs at the memory. "And then I'd have to wear a f**kin' tie…jaysus I hated it!"

It was a bank strike in 1966 that led to Moore leaving his steady, pensionable job for life as a wandering minstrel. It paid dividends…unlike the banks these days.

Christy is now back in the charts with a critically acclaimed new album, Lily.

Jimmy's All Stars 50 not out

Jimmy Magee compiled Ireland's first ever national pop charts in  October, 1962. He also founded a unique charity event on June 6, 1966, called The Jimmy Magee All-Stars.

The All-Stars were originally showband idols from groups like the Royal Showband, the Mighty Avons and The Drifters.

At each event they played a football match and then a concert.

Over the decades, Jimmy and the All-Stars raised €6 million for various charities.

And last night at the Hotel Kilmore in Cavan they celebrated their golden jubilee with Daniel O'Donnell topping the bill.

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