A master of entertainment
Never before have Sri Lankan music lovers experienced and enjoyed a
fabulous show performed by Daniel O' Donnell with Mary Duff and his
band. A true showman and truly a great personality, he swept the
audience off their feet, singing the Irish classics, country hits and
music of the 50s and 60s and other gospel and old-time favourites, his
amazing dances across the stage and his uncanny art of spining Irish
humorous stories which kept the jam packed audience in stitches.
Daniel O’ Donnell
The show presented by DK Promotions was a great success, so much so
that to reach out to the packed audience at the back of the stretching
hall whom Daniel O'Donnell termed my fans 'sitting in Kandy'!
He went around acknowledging their presence without a break in his
singing. His interaction with the audience was plus, plus and he treated
them like he knew them for years.
With an impressive opening sequence, Daniel O'Donnell moved in from
the shadows singing 'I Need You' and what followed thereafter was an
unbroken line of favourites which included 'A White Sports Coat', Take
Good Care of Her, Roses are Red my Love, Hello Mary Lou, Release Me and
the all-time favourite Irish Eyes.
Mary Duff made her entrance singing 'Rose Garden', Pick Me Up and
then went into duets with Daniel O'Donnell singing You're My Best
Friend, Whispering Hope and an umtempo Hey Good Looking.
The spotlight switched back to Daniel who entertained the audience
with more of his favourites such as Thank You For Loving Me, Footsteps
and Galway Bay with an interesting video presentation. There were many
other favourites including Sweet Caroline, Is This The Way to Amarillo.
What was evident in their presentation was the slick presentation
with no glitches and gave the impression that it was all impromptu, but
knowing their professionalism a lot of planning must have gone in to it
to ensure there were no hitches.
After the interval there were more attractive favourites such as Can
You Feel Our Love, I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen, a Jim Reeves
medley which included - I Know That I Won't Forget You, Anna Marie,
Adios Amigo, He'll Have To Go and an Elvis Presley medley comprising
That's All Right, She's Not You, Love Me Tender, I'm All Shook Up.
Mary Duff gave us the benefit of appreciating her big hit 'A Single
Yellow Rose' which sent one member in the audience we know into raptures
and she joined Daniel O' Donnell for their other major hit "Some where
In Between'. Danny Boy, Tipperary by Daniel and many other favourites
moved the show towards the end. The encore was Beautiful Sunday but the
audience didn't let him go. They surged forward to shake hands with him,
to get his autograph or get a photograph taken with him on their cell.
He stalled them by agreeing to do all three after the show, if they were
not in a hurry to get home and ended the show for sure with his
rendition of How Great Thou Art with audience participation and with the
happy promise that he'll return for another show in our country.
Before the concert we were fortunate to have a pleasant, relaxed
interview with him.
Question: Last year was significant according to reports you
celebrated your 30th anniversary in your career. What were the special
programs you did to mark the event?
Answer: The 30 years was the 30 years of recording. I started
recording in 1983. I actually started my career with my sister in 1981
in her band and I travelled with her for three years. To celebrate the
30 years we did a television show in Ireland and with it was wrapped up
my 50th birthday. We released an album in 1984. The TV show was the main
Q: You have come thus far with overwhelming success together
with awards of recognition, when you started off in 1981 was it smooth
sailing for you or did you counter difficulties?
A: No matter who you are or what you are, you want to achieve
instant success which is something that happens to very few. I left my
sister in 1983, made my first record and was at home desperate to play.
Disco had come in very strong and the music I enjoyed singing, there was
no place for it, no market. I love Country music and Irish folk. Then in
1986, all of a sudden, just like switching a light on, things seemed to
have come together over a couple of months. People started coming to the
dances which were popular in Ireland. We then started doing shows in the
UK and we began doing concerts. The radio in UK and the television, the
radio especially started playing a lot of our records. 'I Need You' was
the first song - it got a lot of attention. A lot of it was word of
mouth. Because the type of music we do is not aired on every radio
station as it is not pop music, it's not Lady Gaga or whoever. It's on
specialised stations I suppose. A lot of people started coming to our
shows - it took us a long time to get where we are today.
Q: How and when did Mary Duff join you in your shows?
A: Mary Duff joined in 1987. She started singing when I
started doing concert tours. My manager felt I needed somebody to open
the show. He had known Mary through a talent competition. She came and
auditioned. It was a foregone conclusion. We've been together since
A couple of years Mary formed her own band and toured herself. And
then in 1994 she came back permanently. Ever since it's been a great
combination for both of us. We didn't start singing duets till about
1992. Our first duet was 'Somewhere Between.'
Q: Your latest album 'A Picture of You' does it contain new
material by you or cover versions?
A: A few new songs. I haven't written any new songs. There are
lots of covers. Right from the beginning I never limited myself to
I love the old songs. I have a list of songs from years ago which I
like and every time I look at it, it gets longer, it doesn't stay the
same. 'Picture of You' was a hit in the UK for Joe Brown, Walk Tall by
Val Doonican, Love Letters in the Sand - that's the type of songs that
are on the album. Maybe I'll do a couple of new songs at the show.
Q: Andy Williams and his singing style, was it an inspiration
A: I used to go for his shows in Branson, Missouri. He was a
wonderful performer. I met him a few times. After he passed away I
thought I should not forget him, so I paid a tribute to him at our
concert at Branson.
Q: Loretta Lynn we understand is your favourite singer and
that you admire her?
A: I love her. When I hear her voice I believe what she's
saying and I feel connected with the show.
A number of times in as recently as September last year, I stayed at
her house for a couple of days when she was doing a show. She's really
We had a great time. I just love her voice and that of Charlie
Pride's too. I've always been a fan of Cliff Richard.
At the same time even though I know these singers and get the
opportunities to relax and be away from music, I'm always a fan of their
music as well. So I go to see them at concerts and enjoy as much as I
never met them. I see them on the stage as performers and each one has a
charisma of their own.
Q: The members of your band, have they been with you since the
inception or have there been changes?
Daniel O’ Donnell and Mary Duff
A: We had a couple of changes. One of them is not with us on
this tour. Ronnie, John, Tony and myself, we have been together since
March 6, 1986 - 28 years!
The drummer joined us five years ago. I suppose its incredible and it
allows us to have a relaxed show, so that we can do a lot more than if
we get a band that I just got together for a tour. Really, if somebody
called out a tune, I know they can play it.
Q: Do you enjoy performing live more than recording sessions?
A: Live is my favourite. I got used to it. The interaction
with the audience is comparable to nothing. Recording was necessary and
I have got much more used to it.
But at the beginning I felt I wasn't as good as I was in a recording
studio as I was live. But over the years I got more comfortable with
recording and I enjoy it.
Q: Has the thought of slowing down ever occurred to you or are
you thinking of celebrating a golden jubilee?
A: As long as I could sing and people come to see us which
ever one goes first - then that would determine it.
But I would not like to be singing when somebody comes and says 'oh
he was great in his day'. I don't like that.