By Lethbridge Herald on August 25, 2017.
Daniel O’Donnell is one of the nice guys. Despite a hectic touring schedule, the soft-spoken Irishman gladly takes time to talk to the media, answering probably the same questions he’s heard time after time with kindness and grace.
He’s also a performer who marches to the tune of his own drum. Walking his own path of non-conformity, O’Donnell sings the songs of the music he enjoys. That music has earned him an extremely loyal audience of fans who are much older than the 55-year-old, who is a huge star in his native country and throughout the United Kingdom.
And O’Donnell doesn’t care. He knows what he likes and his fans love him for it.
The brother of Irish superstar Margo, he first emerged in the spotlight back in 1983 after making his first recording and soon started selling out shows in the UK under the management of Sean Reilly.
His connection with North American audiences was made in the late 1990s when Diane Bliss, an executive producer of PBS fundraising programs, saw him perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Initially failing to convince PBS that O’Donnell deserved a TV special of his own, Bliss succeeeded when her boss was replaced.
“She went for another go and we did a pilot,” recalled O’Donnell, who splits his time between Ireland and Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands.
“We did our first PBS special in 2001 and it aired in 2002.”
That created a relationship with North American audiences that continues to this day. Since 2002, he has recorded 13 more PBS specials, his most recent last year. O’Donnell will be playing the Enmax Centre on Sept. 13, his first visit to Lethbridge since 2008. Tickets are $75 and $85 at the Ticket Centre.
O’Donnell’s music is a fix of Irish folk and American country — which is huge in Ireland, he says. And his approach to making music is simple:
“If I like it, I record it. I love the type of music I sing,” he says.
“People ask me if I’d like a newer audience but I’m very fulfilled.”
And O’Donnell says he couldn’t be fulfilled if he wasn’t performing the music he loves, performing from the heart for the audiences who appreciate his art.
He keeps demanding touring and recording schedules. O’Donnell recently made history by becoming the first artist in the history of the UK album chart to have charted one new album every year since 1988.
And he does it by knowing what suits him.
“You learn over the years what your limitations are and you need to know the type of songs that suit your voice and range,” he says.
“There are some songs I can sing and others I know I can’t.”
And O’Donnell knows he can’t record with his sister.
“We have very different ranges, I sing in one key and she sings in another.”
Performing with him here will be long-time musical partner Mary Duff and seven back-up musicians.
O’Donnell tries to keep his show fresh, giving audiences a performance that will be unlike the ones they’ve seen previously.
“I try to make something different every year. Hopefully, people will think it is,” he says.
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