That there’s no better preparation for success than failure is an oft’ repeated phrase, and with good reason: it’s true. There’s no shame in ever failing, of course, at anything. Unless you don’t learn something that will make your next attempt a better one. Or unless you don’t try again, for that matter. Once you’re always learning, you’re always in a no-lose situation. But even at that, some lessons are damn hard-learned, and there’s no two ways about it. But, having been through the pain, the hardship, having overcome the doubt and sometimes the despair, having battled through a darkness that once enveloped all the days and nights of your life, well….when you finally start to taste success after all that, it’s sweetness is savored with every breath, and appreciated all the more because of what it took to get there.
Just ask John Molloy, one of Irish country music’s rising stars.
Born in Westmeath, but with strong connections to the Faithful County from managing the family business, Molloy’s Bar, in Clara, from 1994 until 2007, John is another of the country scene’s new breed (Olivia Douglas, Colin Kenny, Alex Roe, and Stephen Rosney, are just a few more who spring to mind) that Offaly can boast as being one of our own. Together with another young lady who’s been winning herself fans all around Ireland since her appearance on TG4’s Glor Tire last year, Sabrina Fallon, the duo recently topped the iTunes Irish Country chart with their Christmas duet, ‘The Greatest Gift of All’ (which also features the bonus tracks ‘There’s A Blue Moon Over My World Without You’, by John, and ‘Deeper Than The Holler’ by Sabrina). As many fans out there will recall, country legends Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton also recorded this song for their ‘Once Upon A Christmas’ collection back in 1984. This was John’s second #1, with his official debut single ‘Don’t Tell Me What To Do’ (written by Max D. Barnes and Harlan Howard) also climbing all the way to the top of the charts late in 2016. But it’s not that long ago that reasons to celebrate such amazing successes seemed more than a million miles away for John….
“I find it hard to put into words what it felt like to see our duet sitting in there at number one on the charts, with names like Nathan, and Taylor Swift, and even Ed Sheeran, all below us. It was humbling in so many ways, to be honest, and the main thing I’m thankful for – and I know Sabrina feels the same – is for all of the support we’ve received. It’s been absolutely fantastic, the amount of good wishes that have come our way. I think this song, especially at this time of the year, has really resonated with people, it touches hearts in a very real, very honest way. I think, as performers and just as people ourselves, both Sabrina and myself would be very much like that, just very real and very honest. Definitely a pair of the what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind, ya know! [laughs]. Our family, our friends, and indeed all of those who have become our fans, they all mean so much to us and I think we were able to get that across in our performance of ‘The Greatest Gift of All’, so we were.”
The singer continued, “And for me personally, to be able to sit here in December and look back on two #1 singles in little over a year, and one of them with Sabrina, who has become such a special friend to me, it’s more than a dream come true, so much more. I can remember sitting at home, not so long ago either, and not knowing where life was taking me, and I mean where it was taking me, as opposed to where I was going. Because things felt out of my control for what felt like a very long time. Like so many others, I went through the experience of a business failing in the years when the whole country seemed to be cracking apart. And I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt me, and didn’t leave a mark, because it did. And it brought me to some dark places I never want to see again. But I was lucky. I was lucky because I always had music, and because I found my beautiful wife, Majella. And music and love are the two greatest sources of strength in this world. I truly believe that. And I’m so lucky to be doing something I love so much, and to be able to do it because of someone I love so much. And it gives me the greatest sense of joy seeing people enjoy what I do.”
John’s singing partner on ‘The Greatest Gift of All’, Sabrina Fallon, isn’t exactly a stranger to the business, even if she is still relatively new on the scene as an artist in her own right. Sabrina’s dad, Patsy, is a well-known figure in country circles, as is another young man who’s a member of Sabrina’s clan, a certain Mike Denver! But after appearing on Glor Tire last year, with Mike as her mentor, Sabrina came fully into her own as a performer, with her fine traditional country voice winning admirers far and wide. Not only that, though, Sabrina has to be one of the most bubbly personalities out there, seldom seen without a smile, it’s been well noted already, even this early in her career, how her very presence seems to bring an extra energy and sparkle to any even she’s a part of. In many ways, John and Sabrina seem destined to have been perfect duet partners, with the former also gaining attention for his quick and genuine connection with fans wherever he plays. And Sabrina is just as fast to credit John for always being there with a word of advice or wisdom where her own career has been concerned….
“I can’t thank John enough for all of his help, I really can’t. He’s taken me under his wing, you could say, going out of his way so many times and in so many little – but important – ways. He’s been a star to me, and I’m not in the least surprised that he’s becoming a star in the eyes of so many others now as well. He’s a gentleman, and it’s been such a pleasure, not to mention fun – oh my God, it’s been so much FUN! [laughs] – recording this song with John. For ‘The Greatest Gift of All’ to become a #1 as well, I mean, it’s so special. We’d been chatting back and forth for a while about recording something together, but we had to find what we felt was the right song to do. John’s wife, Majella, suggested this one to us, and after getting a few opinions from the people who matter – mam and dad for me, in other words! [laughs] – we said yeah, THIS is the one, for sure. I think for the two of us, this song had a very deep feeling of….of giving back….about it. And that’s so important to both of us. So it’s almost like our own little way of saying thank-you to our families, and our friends, and of course our fans too, for everybody’s support. It’s a good time of the year to remember what’s really important, and to remind ourselves to keep things in perspective. I think this song does that in the most beautiful way, and I’m so happy – so, so, happy – that people are liking it so much. Credit for that to the man we recorded it with as well, Wayne Thorose, down at Ballyrose Media Studio in Ballyforan.”
“When you actually listen to the lyrics in the song”, remarks John, “it really brings it home for me, that Christmas spirit that we all knew as kids growing up, and about friends and family enjoying quality time together. In recent years, I just feel that we might have lost this spirit with the country going into recession and maybe now back to boom. But I think this song has something in it that makes people take stock of the things in life that actually are important.”
John concluded, “Myself and Sabrina would love this song to be heard in many homes all over the world and maybe it can help to restore that love in all of our hearts about family spending time together at Christmas. I know a lot of people don’t have the luxury of these things in life but all we can do is our best.”
** John’s current EP, ‘Sing Me Back Home’, is available from John at all of his shows. And expect exciting news about new ways to get your hands on John’s music and keep up to date with his career coming in 2018!