Clare country singer Clodagh Lawlor told David Hennessy about her debut album, pinching herself to be singing with Daniel O’Donnell and the encouraging words she got from Dominic Kirwan.
Clodagh Lawlor, from Newmarket-on-Fergus, came to prominence when she won The Late Late Show’s Search for a country music star in May 2019.
But any hopes she had of building on that victory with a summer of festivals in 2020 were scuppered by the pandemic.
However with live shows off the table, she has spent the time raising her profile online and crafting her debut album Believe which was released in November.
Clodagh told The Irish World: “With everything going on, shows still aren’t really as frequent as I thought I would be able to get out there.
“But at the same time I kept myself going online and that built up my presence more and then I released my album in November and that got a good reaction.
“I was really, really happy with that because especially when it’s your first stamp on the market, it’s daunting enough. But it went down really well and I’m just delighted. The songs are catching on with people and people are becoming more familiar with who I am which is great.”
With recording started before the pandemic, the Newmarket-on-Fergus country singer could not conclude recording of her first album until the lockdown was relaxed enough to let her to meet with producer Peter Maher.
“We had the restrictions where we couldn’t work or go so far for a good majority of the year.
“Obviously I respected those and myself and Peter couldn’t work together so we had to kind of put it aside for a couple of months.
“But then once we got back doing it, we kind of got it done quick enough.
“And I was very lucky that I got a grant from First Music Contact for €6,000 towards my album, which was just amazing because that was a lot of gigging to do to have that money. It was great to have.
“That really boosted me in regards to the production side of things and saying, ‘Okay, we can actually get this done now in time for later on in the year’.
“And we got it done, thank God.
“If I hadn’t had the grant, I don’t know if it would be out yet.”
Believe is a particularly apt name for Clodagh’s album as it was a long journey to get there.
Clodagh was busking from the age of 17.
She also appeared on The Voice of Ireland in 2016, describing it as a ‘learning curve’.
“If I had known when I was an eight-year-old who wanted to be a country singer that it would take nearly 18 years to get where I am, I probably wouldn’t have kept going.
“But I did believe in myself and I did believe that deep down I was going to be in the music industry, I was going to be a musician and I was going to be an artist.
“And I just kept going.
“If it wasn’t for the belief that I had in myself, it wouldn’t have been created.
“I just kind of got the ball rolling with the (Late Late) show and then I thought life would be normal in the summer of 2020 doing a few appearances here and there.
“And then everything just spiraled downhill but I was trying to look on the positive side of everything.
“Okay, for a while I was like, ‘Oh my god, what is going on?’
“But then I just said, ‘Look, the biggest names in the world are in the same position I’m in now so I can either look at it from a positive aspect or get myself really down about it’.
“And I kind of just looked in the positives.”
And there have been bright moments along the way. Last year Clodagh got to join Daniel O’Donnell for Opry le Daniel.
“I’ve always said when I started on this crazy journey, as I call it, to get into the Irish country music scene that if I could work with the people I’ve looked up to, I’ll have made it.
“When I got the call for Opry le Daniel, I was really shocked because I wasn’t out there as much because of the times that we’re living in.
“I didn’t expect to be asked onto that show. And it was just incredible. The feedback was amazing.
“It was so great to play. The band that he provides is just next to none.
“And I really felt as an artist growing up that if I was to play anywhere, whether it be Opry le Daniel or at the Grand Ole Opry, I wanted to start with Opry le Daniel because I just admire everyone that’s gone on that show.
“The best of the best have been there.
“Charley Pride, rest his soul, was on that show, and I actually thought one day I might be able to meet him if I was in that circle but unfortunately he passed away last year.
“There were so many moments I pinched myself thinking that I was in the room with Daniel.
“It’s just stuff that I didn’t think I would have gotten so early on in my career.
“I’m very fortunate. I’ve achieved a lot in the last year as an artist.
“I’ve just been very fortunate that the stars have aligned me to get me where I want to be.”
Clodagh got some overwhelming words of encouragement from Dominic Kirwan last summer.
“The Irish country music family is small but everyone is very supportive.
“The older ones on the scene are so good to pull you aside and give you little tips here and there.
“I did a gig during in the summer and I met Dominic Kirwan.
“I had never met him before but he came over to me and he said, ‘I can really see you doing well in this scene’.
“And when someone like that, who’s in the industry that long, says something like that, that gives you a bit of a ray of hope that you’re doing something right, that they even have the ability to say that.
“He said, ‘When things really pick up, I don’t think anything is going to stop you’.
“People like that could only say one word and that one word resonates with you and you take that on with you on the journey that you’re going on.
“It gives you more hope and more drive in you to keep going.”
So what is next for Clodagh? “At the moment I’m actually talking to people in the States and Canada about doing my own tour out there.
“Hopefully later on in the year we get the green light to really go ahead.
“I’m working on something different now again because I’ve just gotten to know myself more as an artist, what people like and what they don’t like.
“I’m hoping my next album is going to be all original music and just have a stamp of what I really am then as an artist.
“I’m in the process of writing new music as well, and just hoping to get more shows going.
“In October I did my first headline show which went down great so I’m just hoping that I can do more of that and get more calls to do festival appearances and stuff like that.”
The album Believe is out now.
For more information, click here.
You can also search Clodagh Lawlor Music on social media.