Shauna McStravock told David Hennessy about her latest single Whole Lotta Little which has earned her an iTunes number one and why, although well known for presenting on Spotlight TV, it is time again for her to get her own music out there.
Tyrone’s Shauna McStravock is well known for presenting her own show on Spotlight TV, Shauna’s Country.
Shauna has performed with some of the biggest names in Irish country music and has even been honoured with an Irish World award, something she describes as a highlight of her career.
Shauna has just released her new single Whole Lotta Little which went straight to number one on iTunes.
But Shauna could almost have pulled the song. When she found out that, unbelievably two other female singers had recorded the same track, he thought about whether it was right to go ahead and release it.
Shauna told The Irish World she has been delighted to see Whole Lotta Little go down so well.
She told us: “I didn’t actually realise the reaction would have been so good, because it actually came to my attention that another two girls actually recorded it as well in Ireland.
“So there’s three of us with the same song out the same week so it was very nerve racking.
“I wasn’t sure what way it would go.
“I actually heard the song on social media.
“It was a friend of mine actually, who loves dancing, who said, ‘Shauna, this is a great lively little song, be great for dancing, you should definitely put your version down and record it’.
“And so I did, I went ahead and recorded it.
“And I brought it out on Tuesday past which has been absolutely phenomenal with the response to it and people jiving and dancing and sending me videos has been great.
“I think it was only up a couple hours and then it went straight to number one in the country iTunes chart.
“So it was fantastic it was really well received.
“I’m so happy that it’s doing so well for me at the moment and the other girls. It was just a pickle that we were in.
“The three of us had the same song out but as I say, I wish the girls well with their versions.”
Whole Lotta Little is an infectious and upbeat number and it is not surprising that it has been getting people dancing.
We feel for Shauna and how it must have been awful to discover that Sinead Black and Lauren McCory had also recorded versions of the song.
“I suppose you invest in the song, you put the money in and the time in to record it with the musicians.
“When I heard the news that they had done it too, I was gonna pull the pin but my producer and everyone around me said, ‘No, no, no, definitely put your version out, it’s worth doing it’.
“I’m so glad I did.”
It’s random that three of you came out with it at the same time.
“I rang the two of them up because I didn’t want to step on toes, and obviously there’s no bad blood or anything between the three of us.
“The three of us have suggested working together on a song at some stage as well which would be lovely to release just to show that we are friends and there’s no tension.
“Never in history have I heard of three girls putting out the same song.
“I do think it’s quite funny in a sense.”
The single is the first taste of Shauna’s forthcoming album which she hopes to release before Christmas.
“I’m hoping to announce that in the next couple of weeks.
“The reaction of Whole Lotta Little has been so good that I think I’m just gonna release the album for Christmas now because a lot of people are asking me have I got a new album and it’s been a wee while since I’ve released anything.
“So I think it’s time to bring something new out.
“My first album was recorded- Oh my gosh, I’d say eight or nine years ago. It’s been a long time I’ve had an album out.
“But this album now I’ve put a lot of time and effort into picking good country songs that hopefully will have a good mix for everybody so I’m looking forward to releasing that.
“I have a duet in there with a very well known Irish country singer Patrick Feeney.
“I’m looking forward to people to hearing that.
“And there’s quite a quite a good mix on it.
“I’ve tried to pick stuff that I hope people will like.
“I have a couple of singles on there that I had in recent years. Blue Jean Country Queen which was a big hit for me. And Down at the Twist and Shout, those two songs are on the album as well.
“And then, obviously through COVID, I released Love Shine a Light, which was a cover that I done to help raise funds for the NHS and the HSE.
“There’s quite a good mix that I hope people will like, so looking forward to everyone hearing it.
“Hopefully people will like it.”
And why has it been so long? Of course it is because Shauna is always so busy with her TV show.
“Obviously for the past seven years, I’ve been very heavily involved with spotlight TV so the TV presenting side of things was very much at the forefront of what I was doing and getting a lot of opportunities with hosting and compering and things like that alongside my singing.
“But more so I’m just trying to push the music. I’ve decided that I’d like to get a bit more of my music out there.
“So that’s probably why it’s been a while since I put anything really properly out.”
Although she says she had never thought of presenting TV, and even doubted that she could, Shauna has long been a familiar and popular face on Spotlight TV.
She remembers how it came about.
“Years ago I met Phil Mack who is the CEO of Spotlight TV and we got chatting and I actually just happened to mention how I would love to present a wee show.
“And he said, ‘Leave it with me’.
“And within a few days, I got a call from Phil and he said, ‘Look, would you like to do this? Would you like to present your own show, Shauna’s Country?’
“And I thought, ‘Nah, you must be joking. I can’t do this’.
“In the moment I thought, ‘Oh, yeah, I can do this’.
“But then I thought, ‘Really Phil, I don’t know’.
“He said even if you try it for six weeks, see how it goes And if you don’t like it, that’s fine’.
“And six and a half years later, I’m still presenting Shauna’s Country so that just shows how much I love it.”
Shauna came to do some presenting from our special 30th anniversary awards back in 2017.
“It was a highlight that I’ll always remember, doing the Irish World awards.
“And I was so thankful and honoured to be part of it, and to be invited.
“It was just a great honor to receive TV Presenter of the Year.
“Mary Kennedy from RTE was one of the guests and she presented me with my award.
“It was so lovely and it was such a variety that night of artists as well.
“It was an absolutely fantastic night
“I’ll forever be very, very thankful to Paddy and all you guys, all the team for having me involved there as well.”
There is a video of her speaking to our late founder and managing director Paddy Cowan who passed away over two years ago now.
“Paddy Cowan was such an inspiration and he was such a support to me in the beginning as well of my years in the music scene.
“He was a brilliant man to know and had a world of knowledge and would have worked with so many as well in the Irish country scene, to become a friend of his was just something I’ll forever be grateful for.
“And for everything he done for me as well.
“From early on when I first started out in music Paddy and the team, I have to say has been so good and supportive.
“And obviously his expertise and advice over the years that he’s been working with people in the industry as well.
“It was just lovely to form that friendship with him as well.
“I was delighted to get the pleasure of working on different occasions and obviously sending my music in as well and getting the write ups, I just really am so thankful for it.
“It was lovely. And I have the video as well.
“It was great to actually get the opportunity to interview him at the awards that night.
“I’ll always cherish that video.
“Thinking back to those awards, it feels like yesterday.
“And I’ve become good friends with Marty Morrissey and we often talk about it as well.
“So it was great to be part of it. You get to meet a lot of people, it was fantastic. I think you should do it again.”
Would you come over again if we did? “I would be delighted, I would host it for you. No problem. I’d be the first woman there. It would be brilliant.”
She has performed with many of the biggest names in Country music including Daniel O Donnell, Philomena Begley, Nathan Carter, Susan McCann and Mike Denver to name a few.
“Well, it’s quite funny you mention Philomena. We’re actually together here at the moment in Wales and she’s just like a mother to me. She’s just a great friend. She’s a great idol and such a huge inspiration as well.
“And she’s from my part of the world, Co. Tyrone.
“She’s just a wonderful lady and, as I say, great friend of mine now.
“Obviously, Philomena and Susan, and all of those guys you mentioned have become good friends of mine.
“I suppose in the beginning, it was very daunting because you’re starting out in the industry, and you’re meeting everyone for the first time.
“But I’ve learned so much from working with them all and it’s been such a pleasure as well over the years and sometimes ‘pinch me’ moments
“It is a great honour for me to be sharing the stage with the likes of Daniel O’Donnell and Nathan and a lot of great, great artists we have in Ireland as well.
“To be fair, they’re always at the end of the phone if you ever need them, ever need advice or a call.
“That’s what I love about every one of them.
“So yeah, very lucky girl. Really happy.
“I just sometimes can’t believe where music has led me and the opportunities it’s given me.
“It’s been a whirlwind few years definitely.
“I’m delighted with the way things are going so far.”
Shauna has no hesitation in answering when asked what her biggest highlight has been.
“A dream of mine has always been actually just to visit the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
“And while I was TV presenting, I got the opportunity to go to Nashville with Phil Mack who is the CEO of Spotlight TV.
“We went over to Nashville and we got to visit Memphis and different places.
“But one of the nights I got to go backstage at the Grand Ole Opry and that was just a dream come true to get to see where a lot of the greats like Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and Johnny Cash would have been singing and performing.
“It was wonderful. So yeah, that was a huge, huge night for me getting to visit the Grand Ole Opry.
“I would say that was one of the biggest highlights I’ve had to date.”
And Shauna’s favourite interview so far of her time with Spotlight TV also takes her back to her time in Nashville.
“At this stage I’ve interviewed probably every country singer and artist in Ireland.
“I’ve been very fortunate and lucky to interview a lot of them.
“But one highlight to date was while I was actually in Nashville.
“It was our last night over there and bluegrass singer Rhona Vincent walked into one of the venues that we were in. I nearly dropped.
“I couldn’t believe it was actually her.
“Phil was with me and we got chatting to her.
“She did an interview for Phil’s show and then Phil turned around and said, ‘Another presenter from Ireland is here, would you do an interview with Shauna?’ And she said she’d be delighted.
“I got to interview Rhonda Vincent and that was probably one of the best interviews.
“I’ll always cherish that I’ve got the opportunity of doing so.
“That’s probably the one I love the most.”
Shauna got to see another great of American country music not so long ago and at home in Ireland when she was at Croke Park to see Garth Brooks perform live.
“I actually went two nights to see him.
“Obviously I grew up listening to Garth Brooks as well and getting to see him perform, it was unbelievable. It was brilliant.
“I don’t think they could have picked a better venue. Croke Park is where it should have been and where it needed to be, I think.”
She may not have done five nights there but like Garth, Shauna recently got to sing at Croke Park for a GAA function that saw her performing for and meeting GAA figures like Joe Canning and Jim Gavin.
“It was a lovely opportunity for me to be given.
“I shared the stage that night with Tommy Fleming and my very good friend Marty Morrissey invited me to be part of that night, which was wonderful.
“I had the pleasure of singing and performing that night in Croke Park.”
Like many Shauna was shocked by the news of the death of All Folk’d Up singer Barry Mohill recently. Also natives of Tyrone, she knew the band and had worked with them.
“I’ve worked with them quite a bit, more so Pauric.
“Barry’s brother Pauric and me would be very good friends and we’ve done a few Facebook lives together through lockdown.
“The sad news about his brother Barry passing away was obviously tragic. Very sudden and such a young person, such a wonderful musician as well and a very popular band.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Pauric and all the family. It’s a hard time for them.
“It’s so tragic.”
Whole Lotta Little is out now.
Shauna’s album is coming soon.
For more information, click here.