Wednesday 13 December 2017

Isolation helps us create our own style

Chanele McGuinness, Singer-songwriter, Ballyshannon

Singer Chanele McGuinness in Ballyshannon. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Singer Chanele McGuinness in Ballyshannon. Photo: Gerry Mooney

It was her unconventional duet with rapper Bxnjamin on the classic 'Moon River' which catapulted Chanele McGuinness into the spotlight.

With almost half-a-million views on YouTube, the recording to promote Galaxy chocolate highlighted the Ballyshannon artist's sensational voice.

"The reaction from locals was so sweet," the 23-year-old tells me. "People were so supportive, coming up to me and saying well done, and it created a good buzz locally which was great."

While writing, recording and gigging, Chanele still finds time to get out and about to enjoy the county she cherishes so very much. "You can't beat Donegal, I mean look at it, it's amazing - and, yes, it's a bit isolated, far from Belfast, far from Dublin, even far from Galway really, but because we're a bit isolated, we've developed our own style I think," she says.

Describing it as a "pocket of creativity", Chanele explains that many of her darker lyrics are, perhaps, influenced by the reality of coastal living in Donegal where the elements batter the house during winter storms.

As Chanele's career takes off, she's been able to travel to America and the UK, but admits it's in familiar surroundings where she can write and compose more easily.

"I suppose it could be that there are less distractions when I'm at home in Donegal. The wilderness, the quietness - that's a songwriter's dream, really."

Many of her friends and peers have had to leave for work. Chanele's generation finished secondary school during the worst of the recession when Donegal's unemployment rate topped 25pc.

"You do notice that when you go out at the weekend. So many of my age group had to leave for work, mostly to Australia, the UK, lots to Dublin, too. Sometimes, there's barely anyone here who I went to school with."

She believes that if more people knew what her county had to offer, more would come to experience it for themselves. "It's about time Donegal got the positive attention it deserves! It's authentic, unspoilt and natural. We're very proud of it and carry it with us no matter where we go."

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