Entertainer of a high order
Voted Entertainer of the Year in Ireland three times over Daniel
O'Donnell will grace the Sri Lankan stage for his fans later this month.
One of the well-known singers Daniel O'Donnell according to records
has sold over 10 million albums. It is said that it is his live shows
that helped him to be a household name in Ireland, the UK and elsewhere.
His songs categorised as Country, Easy Listening, Gospel and traditional
Irish folk music have also mesmerised music lovers in Sri Lanka who have
enjoyed his singing style first when aired over the radio.
So a live performance will be a must-see act for the Sri Lankans.
More often than not a musician's journey to achieve the high life in
the industry is no easy task. So it was for Daniel O'Donnell. "When I
was travelling the highways and byways of Ireland and the UK in an old
transit van as I struggled to become established I never dreamt that one
day I would sing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville", said Daniel during
an interview with Montage.
What followed thereafter were performances on the BBC's legendary
charts show Top of the Pops, New York's Carnegie Hall, London's Royal
Albert Hall and The Sydney Opera House.
On February 25 Sri Lankan fans will have the opportunity to
experience his charismatic and down-to-earth stage presence and
expressive tenor voice which categorises him as an "entertainer of the
highest order". Along with Mary Duff he is bound to reach out to his
audience - young and old.
Excerpts from an interview with Stephen SPAZ Schnee after the release
of 'From the Heartland' in 2013.
SPAZ: I've watched the DVD and it is amazing to believe that you've
been doing this for 30 years.
DANIEL O'Donell: Well I've enjoyed it immensely and I've been very
SPAZ: 'From the Heartland' getting played on PBS television how are
you feeling about how this special has been received and sort of the
reaction to it?
DANIEL: Well very good. We've really had a very positive reaction to
it and I think as we've gone throughout the years, we've managed to have
a very good relationship with PBS and our audience.
SPAZ: Do you feel particularly close to any of the songs because I
felt like there seemed to be a real connection with songs such as 'When
You Were Sweet Sixteen' and I felt the performance of 'Moon River' was
really emotional especially coming right after the death of Andy
DANIEL: We were in Iowa where Andy was born. You know over the past
number of years I got the opportunity to meet Andy a few times and we
always went to his show because we do shows in Branson, Missouri every
year. At that point in time we were going to be moving to his theatre
this year in Branson.
Before he passed away we had a fairly good idea that we were going to
be move to his theatre. It just seemed like the right thing to do on
that show, you know, just to honour him in some way. Although I don't
know him very well, I always enjoyed his performances and enjoyed
meeting him anytime I got the opportunity. Of course songs such as 'When
You Were Sweet Sixteen' - I sing a lot of different types of songs, but
the ballads, I suppose are very much that I grew up with, you know the
story songs, so it's very comfortable for me to sing songs like this.
SPAZ: Most of the band members has been with you for at least 20
years. Now that's probably twice the length of time that most rock bands
actually are in existence. What do you owe the longevity to?
DANIEL: We've been together for a long time. Four of us have been
together for 27 years, since 1986 and then the others have been over 20
years. We've enjoyed a great deal of success and we had a combined goal,
even though I was the leader of the band or the lead singer, they were
very supportive of me and that was a great thing.
We respected one another through the years in everything that we have
done. We have a good band, you know, as people as well as musically, so
I just think we were very fortunate, I use that word a lot - very, very
blessed to do something that we enjoy so much and to have been able to
stay together for so long.
SPAZ: You met Mary Duft about 25 years ago. How did that come about?
DANIEL: Prior to my concerts in Ireland there's a great culture of
dances and at that time a lot of places we performed at were dance halls
and shows where people danced. When we started looking at other concert
situations in 1987 we put together our first tour of the United Kingdom.
My manager Sean, we talked about and we said we need somebody to open
the show. He had met Mary at a talent competition where he was a judge,
she had won the competition and he said she was a great singer. She came
to one of our shows and prior to the show she sang, and she was and is a
great singer. We did the tour together and she's a big part of it.
SPAZ: There's one song 'Rivers of Babylon' it's derived from a
Biblical psalm but it became a huge reggae hit and then even a bigger
hit for Boney M. What gave you the idea to bring it back to its Gospel
DANIEL: I enjoy Gospel music myself and like a lot of singers, my
first singing was done in church and the Gospel music I do is very much
the country sort of gospel. I've recorded a couple of albums of Country
Gospel. The most recent one was Peace in the Valley. I like the sound of
the gospel and it is a great song very emotive too.
SPAZ: How much preparation goes into one of your shows?
DANIEL: We rehearse quite a bit to put the show together. One thing
that I think is important in the connection with the audience. They are
an important part of what we're doing. That is one thing I've been
really pleased about throughout my career. I've been able to meet
people, interact with people both from the stage and off the stage and
it's made what I'm doing of greater value than it could ever be in
SPAZ: You are one of the most prolific artistes out there. Have you
thought about slowing down or do you just love doing this too much?
DANIEL: I do love doing it although these past few years I've had
quite a bit of time off, more than I've ever had in my 30 years, and
I've enjoyed that immensely too. I don't see myself stopping, I don't
see myself cutting down drastically, but I'm not going to do maybe quite
as much as I did in the past. I like a little bit of time at home as
SPAZ: At this point in your career, do you love performing live or
DANIEL: Performing live is much more enjoyable. I don't mind
recording. I have to say it's great to go into a studio and create
something new, even if it's an old song that you enjoy.
SPAZ: Now 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of when you made your first
recording. Do you have any celebration plans this year or are you going
to do it next year?
DANIEL: We did have a show on TV in Ireland celebrating the 30 years
of recording. Then we start touring this year and we will certainly
revisit a lot of the old songs.