London-based Cavan musician Lorraine O’Reilly is raising funds for the NHS and the HSE during this lockdown. She told us why she wanted to do something and also what it was like singing with Hollywood star Russell Crowe.
“I wanted to give something back and I think it’s the least I can do,” Lorraine O’Reilly told The Irish World about her current endeavour to raise money for the NHS and the HSE with some live virtual shows during this lockdown.
Lorraine is known on the London scene often sharing the bill with local bands such as the Biblecode Sundays.
“I’m living here ten years and it was only last summer I was in hospital and I had a big operation. I was quite sick and they really looked after me.
“I had to have a hysterectomy unfortunately. I had complications after surgery so it was a bit of a scary moment. I was very close to respiratory arrest.
“I had a very close shave and the nurses said that to me the next day. They said, ‘You’re very lucky’.
“It definitely was a scary time. I’m coming out the other end. It’s been good ot have this period of tome to recover.
“That’s why I wanted to do something. The NHS is very important, we’re so reliant on it in this country. It’s an amazing service.
“Also the HSE, I’m Irish and I felt there’s something I can give towards them as well. I wanted to do something. I’m not a front line worker. I’m asthmatic as well so I guess I couldn’t really be out there but that was my little thing to do. It’s my way of doing something.
“Cavan General Hospital has been quite badly hit with cases even though I think they were the last county to have any cases. Cavan General Hospital got really badly hit a couple of weeks ago. It’s looking like I’ll probably throw half the donations to them, try and do my bit.”
Lorraine has duetted with Russell Crowe both live and on recording, something that came about from Russell and Lorraine’s mutual friendship with Ronan MacManus and the Biblecode Sundays.
“Ronan recorded a song about his mum and dad called Hand in Hand and me and him had recorded it as a duet and the song never really went anywhere. Back in 2016 Ronan said, ‘I’m revisiting this song. I’m going to do the duet but it’s not going to be with me, it’s going to be with someone else. Are you alright with that?’
“I was like, ‘Of course, I don’t mind who I sing with but who is it going to be?’
“And he said, ‘Well, actually, Russell Crowe.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah right, you’re actually pulling my leg’.”
Ronan wasn’t pulling her leg as the band had met Russell on a TV show and kept in touch. Some may not realise that Russell is also a folk singer in addition to his acting.
“I did my duet in London and Russell did his in Australia and when he heard the final product, he loved my voice and said, ‘I’m going to be in the UK, I wnat to meet Lorraine’.
“He invited us to the Dorchester, us and many others: The likes of Tom Jones, Ronan Keating, David Walliams. The room was just full of- not z listers- top end celebs. I was overwhelmed.
“Russell was lovely. He was like, ‘Loved your version of the song and it was great to duet with you’.
“Then he was like, ‘There’s a guitar in the corner there, maybe we’ll have a singsong later’. Ed Sheeran was in the room, David Beckham. I was like, ‘Oh God: Sing song in front of all these people, this is mental’.
“As the night progresses, Russell shouted across the table in a nice way, ‘Lorraine, why don’t you pick up the guitar there and sing a song for Tom, Tom Jones. I was like, ‘Emm, okay..’
“I picked up the guitar and I said, ‘If ever there is a moment in my life to not f**k it up this is now’.”
Of course Lorraine had already sung for Tom Jones during her 2013 appearance on The Voice.
“Unfortunately I didn’t get a turn but got to the blind auditions and sang for them. They chose the song for me and it wasn’t ideally what i would have picked and at the end Tom said, ‘Love your voice, come back. I’d love to hear you on your own with your guitar.’
“It was a funny experience getting to meet him again through Russell.”
And the Gladiator star would soon be in touch again to ask Lorraine to join him on tour.
“July came and he called me up and he said, ‘Samantha Barks is not able to make the tour. I’ve been racking my brain and you just came straight into my head and I thought, ask Lorraine’.
“It was such a privilege for me to be in his thoughts, number one and number two, to be steeping into boots like Samantha Barks’. She’s on the West End scene and done a lot so I was very privileged to do it.
“When he came to the UK, we had shows to do, we had TV to do, radio to do, there was a lot. It was daunting but it was amazing as well. The gigs went amazingly and he was so lovely to work with and deal with.
“He gave me so much time and was so grateful of how I stepped in at such short notice. He knew I’d put work in. He just said, ‘We almost cancelled the shows becauase we felt we couldn’t do it without the female. You smashed it more than we ever expected’.
“it was massive compliment. We’re friends. I’ve been to Australia to his farm and I was over in Stockholm with him last June recording.
“I was in touch a couple of week back regarding lockdown. He was messaging to make sure I was keeping safe.”
Lorraine recently marked the milestone of a decade in London although she would never thought this when she first arrived.
“Ten years ago I packed my bags and made my way over here. I was sent over on a three month secondment almost with a view of going back home within the three to six month period. I was like, There’s no way I’m going over to the UK for any longer’, didn’t want to do it. The rest is history.
“I started to meet a lot of musicians that have become very close friends and the whole thing just gave me a new outlet, a new life really. It made me appreciate my surroundings a lot more and London’s become home almost. The years tick by beore you know it you’re still here ten years later.”
To support Lorraine with her fundraising or for more information, find her Facebook page here.