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Country’s (smallest) new star

Owen Mac

Michael McDonagh talks to Ireland’s bright young teenage country and Irish star Owen Mac.

IW: You started your music career very young but already you have been making a big impression on the Irish music scene. How old are you now and when did you start singing?

“I just turned 16 on the first of February and I have now done four albums and a DVD since I started singing when I was about twelve and a half.”

IW: How did you become a singer and record albums?

“Daddy was a singer and he used to do a lot of concerts around Ireland, He used to be in a band but now he is a one-man band doing solo spots and I grew up listening to him and his music.”

IW: Why did you choose country music and not pop music?

“Well, I have never really been interested in the pop genre and it has always been country music that is close to my heart. I suppose I got into country music from listening to dad and his music but there was a lot of country music being played around here.

“I like Marty Robbins, Glen Campbell and Rascal Flatts – but I am also a big fan of Daniel O’Donnell and really like him.

Owen Mac

“I would love to do a duet with Daniel, I met him once briefly as I performed as a guest spot for him at the Mary From Dungloe Festival near where he lives and I met him there and he was very nice to me ever since then I have not bumped into him again.”

IW: Do you have brothers and sisters?

“I have an older sister and a younger sister so I am piggy in the middle!

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“Sixteen is a time to start to make decisions about your future. Do you want to make music your career or do you want to continue your studies?

“Well I would like to make music my career, but I may go on to college to do a course in music, as that would help me with my career.”

IW: What have been the most significant moments of your career so far?

“I have been on TV a couple of times and that has been a big step for me. I did the Stephen Nolan’s TV Show here on the BBC and I have done UTV live with Pamela Valentine. It was scary but they all made me very comfortable.”

IW: As a young lad at school what do your friends think about you making country music albums? Do you get a hard time?

“Well some of them think it is cool and some of them think it is uncool and sometimes there is a bit of slagging but most of my good friends are into it and they love what I am doing and are supportive.”

IW: Do you think it is harder now for young talented people to get a break in the business?

“I suppose maybe it is, but I am just taking it steady and taking one step at a time and learning as I go on and not getting too ahead of myself but just seeing where it takes me.

“Usually, when I do my shows, I have a band of session musicians with me. Its mammy and daddy who fix up for the musicians that we like and one of them is Paul McNeilly, the man who produces my albums.”

IW: Who has helped you most to get this far?

“Definitely my mammy and daddy – dad would be the main person to help me, but they have both been so supportive.”

IW: Do you enjoy travelling and going to gigs?

“I do, yes, I travel a lot to shows down south when I can, and we work around my school days and can go further abroad in the school holidays. I love singing and performing in front of everyone and it is great when you see them enjoying what I’m doing.”

IW: What is the biggest gig you have ever done?

“Canada, I went over there to do a small tour and we had a concert in Newfoundland and there were about 900 people there, which was quite big for me.

“It would be great to play in America at somewhere like Branson or in Nashville as I have loads of fans over there, believe it or not, and I have a lot of ‘friends’ on Facebook in America and someday I would love to play at the London Palladium.

“This year I am going back to Canada to do a tour of seven days again, mainly in Newfoundland, but next year we hope to go back and play in places like Toronto.

“It is the dream of everybody who sings country music to perform in Nashville and to experience the country scene there, so hopefully one day that will happen.”

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