Most artists starting out on the Irish country music scene tend to choose a well-known cover song to get their careers underway. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In many ways it makes perfect sense, and is, therefore, more than understandable. There’s a lot of singers out there, after all, so that’s a lot of voices battling to be heard. If you’re new to the scene one sure way of getting peoples’ attention is by releasing a song they already know well. They might not know your voice yet, but when they recognise the tune you’re singing, chances are they’ll be humming along with you before they even know it. And that, of course, means they’re listening to the song. And if they’re listening to the song, then they’re hearing your voice. And that’s what you want.
So this then, is the normal beginning to the careers of many: release a few cover versions to get yourself heard in the first place and get your name out there, and then maybe throw an original of some kind into the mix a little ways on down the road, when it feels a bit safer to take that chance. It’s pretty much the polar opposite of what happens in American country, where you’re not really in the game at all if you don’t have some original material in your locker. But as always, there are exceptions to every rule. And young Irish singer Alex Roe is definitely that.
Earlier this year he made it two in a row by hitting the #1 spot on the iTunes Irish country chart for the second time in a matter of weeks, and with TWO original songs! And not alone that, they were his first releases. The fast moving ‘Country Kid’ (as he’s become affectionately known to many) from Clara, in county Offaly, hit the top spot with his debut single, ‘All I Need Is You’, and then repeated the feat with his follow up, ‘We’ll Walk Hand In Hand.’ Alex saw ‘All I Need Is You’ (from the pen of Chris Kavanagh) bypass some of global superstar Taylor Swift’s biggest hits, including her track ‘Everything Has Changed’, which featured Ed Sheeran, to soar to the top of the Irish iTunes country chart.
“I don’t think I could have written a better script for how everything went, it was like living in a dream for a few days”, remarked Alex at the time. Having my first song go so well was a brilliant feeling, but that doesn’t mean I expect that to happen all the time. I hope it will, but look, you just never know. That’s the way the music business is. The main thing from my point of view is that I keep putting out songs that I really believe in myself.”
And he certainly did that with the release of his second single, ‘Walk Hand In Hand With You’, another original, this time written by Jim Corbett. The youngster continued to take it all in his stride as he topped the Irish iTunes country charts once again, just hours before his debut performance on Irish television, on the show ‘Feilte.’ Speaking at the time, Alex’s first thought was to thank those who had helped make it all possible. “I film my first TV appearance tomorrow, for TG4, so this is the best lead-in to that I could have hoped for. It’s an amazing feeling, to be honest. To do it once was like a dream come true, but it also makes you really want to do it again! I just want to say the biggest of thank-yous to everyone who has bought the single so far. Hopefully the more often that people hear ‘We’ll Walk Hand In Hand’, the more they’ll like it, that’s always the aim: just for fans to like and enjoy what I do. I also have to say a huge thank-you to Joe Cooney and Kevin Lawlor Fitzpatrick in Midlands 103 for all their support so far. For a young artist like myself, recording original material, their support means so much.”
So, in what is a rare occurrence these days, Alex has scored two #1 singles with his first two releases, and both were original songs. Now if that right there is not reason enough to keep an eye out for what this young man does next, then I don’t know what is. Whatever happens, my money is on a third #1 coming along sometime sooner rather than later.
* Alex’s two #1 singles, ‘All I Need Is You’, and ‘We’ll Walk Hand In Hand’, are available now for download from all digital platforms.
His contribution to the Irish music scene has been recognised by his inclusion in the entertainment industry directory, the Hot Press Yearbook 2017, which is the essential music and media who's-who in Ireland. Anthony was also asked to present John Farry (Nathan Carter's manager) with his award for Best Original Album at the 2017 Hot Country Awards and in 2015 presented Lisa McHugh with her Female Entertainer of the Year award.
In his role with HEM Country, Anthony has interviewed many artists who are well known names on the international stage, among them Clare Bowen, Imelda May, and Una Healy, as well as rising stars like Courtney Marie Andrews. Anthony's features for HEM Country have also helped to shine a spotlight on many of the best Irish country acts like Robert Mizzell, Cliona Hagan, Barry Kirwan, Bernie Heaney, and Hurricane Highway, bringing their talent and achievements to an even wider audience.
During his time writing 'On The Right TRAX', Anthony has interviewed most of the biggest stars on the Irish country scene, including Mike Denver, Nathan Carter, Lisa McHugh, Philomena Begley, Sandy Kelly, and Derek Ryan. He has also chatted with international artists such as Sunny Sweeney, Jim Rooney, Max T. Barnes, the late George Hamilton IV, and Tony Christie.
Anthony's sphere of influence extends well past the boundaries of country music, however, with time spent in conversation with international popstar Kiesza also to his credit. He has also shared time with several other artists from the Emerald Isle whose fame reaches beyond those shores, including Mundy, The Fureys, Frances Black, Pete Kennedy, Rackhouse Pilfer, The 4 of Us, Roisin O, Ham Sandwich and Mick Flannery.
As a writer, lyricist, and poet himself, however, songwriters have a very special place in Anthony's heart and some of his favourite interviews (together with the songwriters already mentioned) include those with Jimmy McCarthy, Johnny McEvoy, Charlie McGettigan, Kieran Goss, and Niall Toner.
Other household names whom Anthony has interviewed for 'On The Right TRAX' are the famous comedians Tommy Tiernan, Des Bishop, Neil Delamere, Jason Byrne, Andrew Maxwell, and Brendan Grace, as well as celebrity chef Rachel Allen, and television presenter Kathryn Thomas.
Anthony also does some artist representation and PR work, and has successfully secured national television and radio appearances for Irish and American artists.
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