Country singer Claudia Buckley told David Hennessy about seeing Bill Murray dancing to her music, playing the London Palladium with Nathan Carter and how her heart was always in music.
Claudia Buckley will join big names like Derek Ryan and Ryan McMullan for this month’s Craic by the Creek festival in Manchester.
Claudia has often shared the stage with big names like Nathan Carter, Daniel O’Donnell and, of course, her father the country singer Jimmy Buckley.
Claudia took the time to chat to The Irish World last week and, as it happened, had just sung to a star-studded crowd that included Westlife, Hollywood star Bill Murray, Niall Horan and the former footballer John Terry.
Claudia got up ‘for a few songs’ on a bill that also included Westlife and Nathan at JP McManus’ Pro- Am golf competition.
Other stars in attendance included Jamie Dornan and famous golfers like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
Claudia told The Irish World: “It was just crazy to be singing to so many massive celebrities, but they all seemed to enjoy it.
“That was a really, really cool thing to do and it was brilliant to be a part of that charity event.
“It was amazing.
“We just try to treat every gig the same and it was very cool.
“We were chatting to Bill Murray afterwards and he was very complimentary to the band and said he thought they were excellent and that he loved our music.
“It was weird, we like were up on stage at one stage and Nathan and I looked down into the crowd and we just saw Bill Murray out dancing to Islands in the Stream.
“He was absolutely loving it and knew every word and that was kind of surreal.
“But it was really cool and we had a great laugh about it afterwards.
“We just try to treat all the gigs the same but that was a particularly special one.
“Yeah, a surreal kind of a ‘pinch me’ moment.
“I never thought that I would get the chance to perform in front of these A list celebrities.
“I didn’t know whether they would like my kind of country music and stuff like that but they seemed to have a fantastic time.
“It was just an amazing experience and one that I will never forget.”
“It’s so nice to be back out working again, and it’s brilliant to see people out and enjoying themselves.”
Claudia is very excited to play Craic by the Creek, a relatively new festival on the UK circuit that launched only last year with Nathan Carter on the bill.
“I’m absolutely buzzing about it.
“I’m actually going to a rehearsal with my band for it tomorrow morning.
“And we’re going through all the songs and making sure we have everything nice and polished going over there.
“We’re very, very excited.
“I can’t wait. I’ve obviously never taken part in Craic by the Creek before, but I’m delighted to bring my kind of music over there.”
Claudia has never performed with the weekend’s headline act Derek Ryan but he was good enough to write the title track for her debut album Hell Raisin Flower which was released late last year.
“I’ve never performed with Derek before but he’s a very talented songwriter and he wrote title track for my debut album.
“He was very kind to do that.
“And that track along with everything else on the album has been doing really, really well.
“You know, within the first three weeks, I think we got something like 40,000 streams on some of the songs.
“So I’m really, really delighted because it’s an album that I really took my time with and I wanted to make sure everything was up to standard and there was something on the album for everybody, no matter what generation they are, even if they aren’t really into country music.
“I think that’s the kind of album it is. You could just listen to it and appreciate that there’s something different in every song.
“Some are more crossover pop, some are more real traditional country.
“I’m really proud of that album.
“When we do meet and greets at our shows people come up with the album for me to sign and say that they’re really enjoying it.
“I’m delighted that something that we worked very hard on is doing well.
“I couldn’t be any more grateful to the people who have gone out and bought it or listen to it regularly or stream it online.
“I really do have the best followers in the world. They’re so kind and so supportive.
“That they like the album is very special to me, so I’m delighted.”
Claudia has sung on Opry le Daniel and shared many tours with her well known father. It is easy to think she has been around a lot longer than she actually has been.
“I’ve been around properly gigging for about two years, I suppose.
“I’m still quite young. I’m only 24 so I have a lot of time.
“I’m already working on the second album and I have a new single coming out in three or four weeks time.
“It’s a great song and we’re putting down another track tomorrow in the studio and every little bit will be going towards the next album and contributing to that so we have a big game plan.
“You could say we’ve lots in the pipeline, lots coming up.
“It’s all moving in the right direction and the hard work definitely does pay off in the end I feel.”
Claudia’s forthcoming single will be her own take on Dolly Parton’s Baby, I’m Burnin’.
“A family friend of ours, a brilliant songwriter who has written so many massive hits for people here on the Irish country scene, is Henry McMahon.
“Anytime I have met Henry over the years, he has always said to me, ‘I really think you should go in and record Baby, I’m Burnin’. Nobody has ever touched it here. I don’t know why. I think it would be a massive song for a woman here in Ireland. I really think you should go in and do it’.
“And I just thought, ‘I’m gonna take Henry’s advice. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s always been very kind to me. Why not go in and try it?’
“So I went in, and we put it down.
“We are just putting the finishing touches on it at the moment and I hope that people like it.”
The crowd can expect to hear it at Craic by the Creek with the track set to be released around that time.
Is it tough to step into Dolly’s shoes? Is Claudia a big fan? “Oh, totally.
“I’m an absolutely massive Dolly Parton fan.
“Even last night when I was going on stage for the concert the compere bringing me on stage said, ‘She’s like Ireland’s Dolly’.
“And I said, ‘That’s not a great way to be brought up on stage because I now how to live up to that expectation’.
“But I’m a massive Dolly fan.
“And nobody does Dolly like Dolly.
“So I didn’t expect to go into the studio and produce something as good as what she obviously produced when she brought that song out.
“I went in just because I love the song. I love all of her stuff and I haven’t really recorded much Dolly stuff so far.
“I sing a lot of her stuff in our live show.
“And we will be doing a lot of Dolly stuff at Craic by the Creek as well.
“It was great to go in and put down one of her most famous songs.
“I loved going in and kind of trying to rework it a little bit, make it different from the original track.
“It is a kind of happy summer song.
“Fingers crossed it goes well.”
A highlight of Claudia’s career so far is when she got to perform at London Palladium as support on Nathan Carter’s big tour show earlier this year.
“There’s been a lot of things that have happened in the last few months than I never saw coming.
“The London Palladium definitely stands out for me.
“It was absolutely amazing to go in and stand there on that big stage and think of all the musical royalty that were there before us.
“It was crazy for someone like me to be up there singing, and they were one of the best audiences ever.
“They were so lively, and so up for it. And knew all of the songs.
“London is such a great place to perform.
“I think anybody going to a country show in London or in a place like London is going because they really love country music.
“It was totally surreal.
“I remember I came offstage and I was teary eyed.
“It was just an amazing experience.
“I’m so grateful for Nathan to have brought me over with him.
“We performed our duets together and everybody was up on their feet. It was just phenomenal and I’ll never forget it.
“And I’m delighted to say that Nathan is bringing me back to the London Palladium next year. We’re going back again. I’m thrilled.”
You could say country music was in her blood as the daughter of Jimmy Buckley. What has it been like for Claudia to have his support? “He’s always been there for advice if I need to go to him and he’s been great for guidance.
“I can talk to him about anything regarding music.
“He’s been very supportive of me and I’m very supportive of him.
“We’re very, very lucky that we’re both in music although on different shows and doing different things all of the time.
“We understand each other in that regard.
“So it has been great to have somebody to talk to about these things when I was growing up, to voice my concerns or someone to help guide me in the right direction.
“It is very hard for a younger person coming into country music to try to put their own stamp on the scene and try to make a name for themselves.
“To be in it for the right reasons, I suppose, is the main thing, the most important thing and I definitely am very grateful to have somebody in the same family like my dad who knows all about it.
“So yeah, it’s been great.”
Was it always going to be singing for Claudia? “From when I was very little I always have memories of me saying, ‘I just want to be a singer’.
“I’m not good at anything else.
“Let me tell you that first of all, I’m not good at anything else.
“I’m an artistic, creative person.
“I loved music and listening to music and understanding music and that was always the way my brain kind of worked when I was growing up.
“It was the thing that I loved to do most when some people would be really into playing soccer or going to ballet.
“I always had it in my head, ‘Somehow one way or the other, all I want to do is sing’.
“I didn’t know if I would get to the stage where I am at now.
“I never thought that in a million years, obviously I still have such a way to go.
“But with hard work and the amazing fans that I have, I’m sure they will help me get there.
“No, to answer your question, I don’t really ever think I wanted to do anything else.
“I did do beauty and makeup artistry and stuff like that. I’m fully qualified and fully trained and I used to teach that in my late teens.
“Although I liked it and it’s practical, it was never really where my heart was. My heart was always in music.”
While they very much do their own thing now Jimmy and Claudia have often done joint shows or joint tours which is special for the father and daughter.
“To tell you the truth we haven’t really done much stuff together in the last two years really because he’s so busy doing his own thing with his own band, and he’s always out on the road. As am I.
“We’re always on different things and it now comes to the stage where it’s funny, at the end of the night, he will call me to see how my gig went. Or I will call him to see how his gig went.
“He makes a joke that he never thought that would be the way that it was, that we would be calling each other to see what way each of our gigs went.
“We’ve done some great stuff over the years.
“When I was young, we used to duet a lot together and it was fantastic. I never take it for granted.
“And I know it’s a special moment to have with your father.
“I’ll always look back and be grateful that I was able to do that.”
Jimmy and Claudia had planned a tour of the UK when the Covid-19 outbreak called a halt to all live performing.
How has the last few years been? “It was difficult for every person working in music.
“We just had to deal with it and get on with it.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult, it definitely was.
“I kind of felt a little bit useless for a period because I wasn’t able to go out and do what I love doing and what I’m actually good at.
“It definitely was hard but I was lucky at the same time because I’m a very driven, ambitious, I like to think I’m a hardworking person.
“So I said, ‘Okay, live gigs are gone. What else can I do?’
“I just put all my time and energy into doing the album.
“I was able to go into the studio as much as I could during that hard period of COVID and I really, really poured my whole heart and soul into doing the album and making it as good as I possibly could.
“That was a great distraction for me.
“Of course, I was worried about how things would come back together with my own career and stuff like that after COVID.
“But I’m blessed and lucky to say that things have never been busier than they are at the moment.”
Born in Limerick, Claudia sang on the recent Up for the Match on RTE previewing the All- Ireland final.
Speaking ahead of it, she said: “I will be singing for Limerick.
“It’s a big, big, massive show, gets absolutely huge, huge viewership and I’m so delighted to be on it.
“And as soon as my dad knew, as soon as Nathan knew, anyone knew they were just so happy for me and so delighted.”
Craic by the Creek runs 22- 24 July.
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