It’s no surprise that Daniel O’Donnell is one of the best loved artistes of our time, both at home and abroad. He has had a remarkable career. He has made record breaking history by being the first and only artist, in the history of the UK Artist Album Chart, to have charted at least one new album every year since 1988, an unprecedented and unbroken 29 year span. In doing so, he has outshone everyone from Michael Jackson and Madonna to U2 and the Rolling Stones. Daniel has also achieved eight number one hits in the UK music video/dvd charts over that period. He makes regular appearances in the Billboard World Music Chart, received an honorary MBE from Queen Elizabeth, appeared on Top of the Pops, had his life celebrated on This Is Your Life and received multiple Entertainer of the Year/Person of the Year Awards in Ireland and the UK - to mention but a few of the many accolades that Daniel has been awarded. And after more than 30 years in the spotlight as an engaging entertainer, he is still in love with performing and with audiences the world over.
He enjoyed recording the reality TV series called ‘Daniel and Majella’s B&B Road Trip for UTV Ireland during the summer of 2015 - touring the B&B guest houses of Ireland with his wife, Majella. “The B&B was a lot of fun because we were on the road together,” Daniel says, adding that he got to see and experience many places in Ireland for the first time. “While I’ve travelled the length and breadth of Ireland touring with the band, I never got to stop and really see the places and meet the locals,” he points out. “We got a tremendous welcome in every B&B and I hope the show will convey to people how wonderful it is to stay in people’s homes and to enjoy the Irish hospitality”. Filming on a second series for 2016 has just concluded and is due to be aired early in 2017 on RTE.
There were charity shows and surprise guest performances, including serenading the 2015 Rose of Tralee live on TV and appearing on the ‘Mary From Dungloe’ Finale which was broadcast live for the first time in its 48 years on Irish TV, Sky Channel 191 and of course, the recording of that years album release - a tribute to the American country legend that was Hank Williams.
The absolute icing on the cake though for Daniel was the offer to be a contestant in the 2015 series of Strictly Come Dancing, one of the BBC’s top rated shows and one of Daniel’s all-time favourite TV shows. “When the email came in I just couldn’t believe it,” he says. “As luck or fate would have it, this is the only year that I could have done it because normally I’m performing in Branson at that time of the year. “I was absolutely thrilled to get the chance to dance on Strictly,” It’s such a huge show and the BBC have their pick of people, so I’m flattered that they asked me. It took me out of my comfort zone, but I had a lot of
fun doing it.”
But back to the music: Daniel says he fell in love with his last single, Blue Moon Over My World, the moment he heard it. Written by Donegal singer-songwriter Shunie Crampsey, the song was inspired by the loss of a close friend. “The first time I listened to it I was touched by the words,” Daniel says. “Shunie told me that he wrote it about a friend who was a father figure to him. “He was left distraught by the man’s passing and wrote the song a day later. “Sometimes when you know the story of a song it resonates more with you. It’s a song that can relate to the loss of anyone. “When you lose somebody, as I did when my mother died, it’s even more relevant to your life. “I’m delighted Shunie sent it to me. When I heard You Raise Me Up for the first time, I knew it was going to be a huge hit. I felt the same about Blue Moon Over My World.
Daniel’s 2015 album release, The Hank Williams Songbook, was also a personal favourite. “I’ve always been a fan of Hank Williams,” he says. “Down through the years I’ve sung many of his songs in different situations and different shows. “Anybody who has a bit of country blood in their veins has been touched by the songs of Hank Williams at some stage. “I find them fantastic songs to sing. The ones I chose for the album were my own personal favourites. “I didn’t pick some of his big songs that people might expect. I just selected the ones that I loved myself.”
They included the love song, Half As Much. “I love the sentiment in that song, particularly the line, ‘if you love me half as much as I love you.’ It’s such a great love song,” Daniel says. “Another song I recorded for that album was My Son Calls Another Man Daddy. I used to sing it years ago, but this was the first time I recorded it. “I recorded Your Cheatin’ Heart differently to the way Hank Williams sung it – we did it a little slower and I just love singing it. “Kaw-Liga is a song that brings me back to the Wembley Country Music Festival in 1979. I remember standing at the side of the stage that year watching Charley Pride singing it. When I was recording the song it brought me right back to that moment.”
Hank Williams also wrote gospel songs under the pseudonym Luke The Drifter, and Daniel included I Saw The Light on the album. He says: “Hank Williams was incredibly talented. When I was recording the songs and listening closely to him singing them himself, I found it hard to believe that he did all of that before the age of 29 when he died of heart failure. You’d think they were the work of somebody who had lived a long life and had all the experiences that go with that. I know he had a very hard life, and sometimes it’s out of those backgrounds that great songs are created.”
‘The Best of Music and
Memories’, released in February 2016, charted on the midweek chart at No. 7, the third highest new entry on that weeks’ UK Artist Albums Chart. Following on from that, “I Have A Dream” released in October 2016 went to # 12 and his latest, “Back Home Again”, released in March 2017, reached number 10. This now means that Daniel has reached the the UK Artist Album Charts with more than 37 albums and has now amassed 31 Top 30 albums over the course of his career.
As for the future, Daniel is back touring again with a revamped band. He says “We’ve introduced some new musicians and some different instruments into the band because I thought it was time for a change and I’m really excited with the new lineup and show.
Daniel’s concert shows around the world sell out on a regular basis. His five shows in Killarney in Aug 2016 sold out in record time as did the Killarney shows in 2014 & 2012 and his two Dublin shows in December 2016 sold out in 20 minutes and a third show added sold out in less than two days. There is no doubt but that Daniel intends to continue touring around the globe with his unique, life affirming shows of music,
song and laughter, for a long
time to come.