Sunday 17 December 2017

Daniel O'Donnell's drummer strikes out solo on The Voice of Ireland

Nigel Connell with Daniel O'Donnell
Nigel Connell with Daniel O'Donnell
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Daniel O'Donnell's drummer of six years is striking out solo on The Voice of Ireland.

Nigel Connell (42) from Athboy, Co Meath, said he has the full backing of Daniel and Nathan Carter, with whom he recently worked as percussionist and backing singer, and their fans.

Tackling U2's Desire he hopes his lifelong experience in the industry will stand to him and prompt those coaches' chairs to turn on Sunday night's show.

Nigel is a session musician and as well as Daniel O'Donnell and Nathan Carter he has also worked with Linda Martin and Rebecca Storm.  He currently also sings with corporate wedding band the Madisons and a Pearl Jam tribute band as well as solo gigs.

Nigel Connell on The Voice of Ireland
Nigel Connell on The Voice of Ireland

Given he's a full time pro who has had the chance to sing in The Royal Albert Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York entering The Voice, and putting himself at the mercy of the four coaches, was a risk.

"It’s something that can go terribly wrong for you and I know a lot of people, friends of mine who have done this, a lot of professional people who are making a living from music, and they didn’t make it on to TV," reveals Nigel.

"There are two auditions prior to the televised blind audition so it’s very nerve-wracking [to get to TV].  I’ve done a lot of singing in my career, pressure gigs in big venues, DVD recordings, but this was like a little pressure cooker.

"If they don’t turn around you have egg on your face.  You have to understand you might just not be what they’re looking for but that doesn’t generate to everybody at home, especially in my local town, Athboy, where they’d be saying, ‘That guy’s been fooling us for years!'” he laughs.

Nigel was offered the chance to work with Daniel again in August but turned it down as going solo is something he has wanted to do for a "very long time".

"I've had unbelievable support from Daniel's fans in Australia and America and New Zealand and it's tough for me to leave Daniel but I've decided we've risen out of the recession and I'd like to really try to push my own career before I get too old," he says.

Although he's well known in his own right, Nigel is aware of the invaluable exposure The Voice can offer, especially to someone who already has a fan base ripe for growing.

"People ask me why I'm doing The Voice and I'd like to win, I'd like to get right through of course, but it's publicity you can't buy.  I don't have a manager, I'm an independent recording artist, and this is just a really great platform."

Nigel has the full support of his hometown and surrounding areas, where he regularly gigs, and he hopes they'll stick behind him if he gets through the blind auditions on Sunday night's show.

"You’re basically like a president running for election and unfortunately that’s where the talent sometimes goes out of the window," he says.

"I’ve judged a lot of talent competitions where a lot of bad singers got through because they got the most votes from supporters and that’s tough.  But I have a large following behind me in Athboy and Trim and I can’t wait to see how it evolves if everything goes well this weekend."

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