Irish TV’s Malachi Cush looks back on the Irish country music scene in 2015 and looks forward to what 2016 has in store for fans of the popular music genre
Singer/songwriter, radio and Television presenter Malachi Cush has sold over 250,000 albums to date, having hit the scene after appearing in the first series of the BBC’s Fame Academy in 2002. He is well-known for cohosting Ireland’s Country with Susan McCann, and on the Irish TV Live special 2-hour show Malachi says the move from singing to presenting has been ‘a very challenging career move’.
He has worked for UTV and BBC, but loves the ‘family feeling’ that Irish TV provides.
“I’ve always enjoyed wearing the two hats because the two careers work hand in hand and I love television and presenting.
“We were put in this world to communicate with each other and both television and music are all about that. Put me in a room on my own and I get frustrated. I need to be out pressing the flesh and meeting people,” he says.
Looking back on 2015, he says presenting and the production of the Irish Country Music Awards show was a ‘game-changer’.
“It was the first time ever the Irish Country Music Awards were voted by the public and the show had 17 live performances, which was no mean challenge.
“It was some journey bringing it from conception but I’ve noticed that with Irish TV people are willing to support us because they have faith we can pull off such ambitious projects.
“Another highlight for me this year on Irish TV, from a viewer’s stand-point was the Mayo Day programme which was exceptional and which I got a great kick out of.
“Mayo is one of the most beautiful counties in Ireland and the people in it are role models for how a population should celebrate their county.
“In most counties we find people have a habit of beating themselves up and tend to be less optimistic as a result of the recession.
“So Mayo Day was a great distraction from bad news and opened people’s eyes to celebrating the good and looking at what a county has to offer.
“My third highlight was The Tribute Show to Margo marking her 50 years in show business. She is someone Irish people can be so proud of and it is right we acknowledged how much she means to us. “I have known Margo personally for a number of years and respect her professionally so it was a great privilege when she asked specifically for me to present the show.
“I tried to pull it all together in terms of finding out the story behind Margo and about her life which wasn’t easy and which delivered her with many challenges to overcome. She was a great guest and performer on the night and the reaction was very enthusiastic.”
Malachi lives with his wife Claire, and golden Labrador Mollie, in Co. Tyrone’s Dunaghmore, and is looking forward to spending time with family this Christmas.
“I’m one of those people that absolutely loves Christmas and would never dream of being away from home for it. It is a time for sharing things with the family and for switching off from work and connecting with people and reflecting on life.
“I actually love going out and buying presents, which I tend to do sort of last minute, but I enjoy the act of giving and receiving.
“I also love heading to Christmas morning Mass and singing hymns. I have led the music our St Patrick’s chapel Dungannon for the past five years at 10:30 am Mass and love that.
“For the New Year I do make resolutions such as staying off the finer things in life for a while and it is all about good intentions for me. Even if my resolutions don’t last, the good intentions remain and that is what is important.”
And with the New Year coming, Malachi is looking forward to more people hearing his new album Kindred Spirits which he calls ‘one of the most important in my career to date’.
“I began working with Phil Coulter a few years back and he has been such an influence on my music, I have always been a fan of his but to work with the man himself is certainly a dream come true.
“I think for me his endorsement has been key, to have a man of his calibre and standing in the business acknowledge me voice has been a real boost, and to record a collection of his works is very humbling.
The album has 14 of Phil’s own compositions, songs like Gold and Silver Days, The Old Man, Noreen and Kindred Spirits and is very easy listening. “I think the production values which Phil brought to the project have really helped the final result.
He was keen to let the voice and songs do most of the work. “There are no over the top productions but a simple combination of Phil’s piano and my singing which I think is refreshing. “Thankfully it has been really well received so far.
“I have always loved the Irish sound and I hope this album captures a true sense of Ireland, themes of family, love, sadness and joy, I think there is definitely something in there for everyone!”
Even though Malachi’s musical career has spanned the last 13 years, he admits he still gets slight stage-fright prior to an important gig.
“Any singer or presenter who tells you they don’t have nerves before a show is blessed but I am someone who is always nervous that something may go wrong.
“This year I sang at the National concert hall in Dublin and I had legs like Jelly, I couldn’t believe it as I hadn’t felt that way in years. But nerves are useful because they don’t take me over but instead give me that little feeling of expectation before an event which keeps me on edge and that’s important.”
• Kindred Spirits is available to download on I-Tunes or from www.malachicush.com