Shane Owens speaks to Fiona O’Brien about why he will never get used to people recognising him, especially after a recent, bizarre line-dancing encounter in Spain
It has been a busy year for one of Irish country music’s brightest emerging talents.
He picked up an Irish World Award in February, completed his debut album, and was a part of one of the biggest European country music festivals last month.
Shane Owens thanks his lucky stars every day, but is happy just singing and doing what he loves. As a 20-year-old who grew up in Reading his chosen career is far-flung from those of his school peers, but he is admired by his friends, who didn’t quite ‘get’ the path he was taking when they first found out.
And as he thinks back to journeys between Reading and Cavan, he fondly remembers the tunes of Mick Flavin, Mike Denver and a host of other Irish country stars. He was happy.
Irish country always brought a smile to his face – it still does – and it is this happiness, which accounts for his loyalty to the genre.
Performing at School
Shane sang his first song when he was three years old, continued to perform when he was at school and entered a talent competition when he was 17.
“It was sort of the country music version of The X-Factor,” he explained. “I ended up winning – I’m not quite sure how – and they said they’d like to take me on.”
Signed by J & C Promotions, he has performed The Shane Owens Live Show in dance halls around Ireland and the UK and is in the process of putting together his first album.
Still only 20, there could be concerns that this early success will go to his head and his considerable potential could remain unfulfilled. Fans, friends and family needn’t worry, however, for Shane is humble, level-headed and almost disbelieving of his situation.
“It’s an absolute dream come true to be doing what I am and, to be honest, if I just carry on like this, I’ll be happy,” he said. “I absolutely love performing and seeing people smile – there’s no greater feeling than looking out onto the dance floor and seeing that people are enjoying your music.”
His attitude as a performer is typical, given that it was the simple pleasure country could provide which brought him to the stage in the first place.
“It just makes you happy when you hear it.I can’t really explain how but it just brightens your mood,” he said. “I particularly love Irish country because you can really dance to it and it has that special feel to it.
Farmers and American Houses
“When people think of country, they might think of farmers and old American houses but that’s not the case for Irish country – there’s just something a bit different.”
Shane explained how his tastes might not necessarily be fashionable but that he will continue to try to convert those who easily dismiss Irish country music. Whenever he was driving his friends around, he’d always have a country CD to hand and, even if it made him the subject of ridicule, he wasn’t going to be swayed.
“I love it and always have; it’s always been such a huge part of my life because mum and dad were into it so much,” he said. “I want to show people who perhaps aren’t used to it how great it can be.”
He acknowledges that it is important to retain a loyal fan base. This, again, shouldn’t be too big an issue due to the fierce devotion of Irish country followers on both sides of the Irish Sea.
“The people who come to see the shows really are number one and they’re vital to people like me,” he explained. “They’ll come back again and again, they’re so loyal and they are important in getting your name out there.
“They go off and tell their friends, who will tell their friends, who will tell their friends – it’s amazing to see people who like your music and want to hear it again.”
Things are still early days for Shane, but he’s already made some big steps in order to advance his career. While Ireland isn’t exactly unknown to him – every school holiday was spent over there – he has moved his base to Cavan.
Some might view this as a bold move, and he didn’t take the decision lightly. But he had always set his sights on his parents’ birthplace, a corner of the world, which has always felt like his spiritual home.
“I’ve been living here for about a year-and-a-half now but I get back to Reading frequently,” he said. “It was a big change at the start because I was away from all my friends in England.
“But they say they’re delighted for me, they see what’s going on all over Facebook and the craic I’m having over here.
“Ultimately, I knew I had to move to Ireland, whether it was to sing or not. I’ve known this since I was about 12.”
Things are going well for Shane. He has five songs recorded for the album, continues to receive healthy support and has a number of gigs lined up for 2017.
There are those in the industry who think Shane has the potential to be an international star. And while he wouldn’t be opposed to such a status, he’s just happy to be playing country.