Rachel Goode is combining Opera and Grand Ole Opry music, and is loving both of them.

After performances with the Irish National Opera and the Welsh Opera, Rachel is now finding a whole new appreciation among country music followers and she is enjoying every minute of it.

Born to Galway and Roscommon parents, Rachel resides in Ballinasloe. She was born and raised in the English midlands where her mother and father worked at the time.

“I have been singing since I was a child, first in the children’s choir in church where I did solos and later in school plays.

“Our family moved back to Ballinasloe when I was 13. I went to Ard Scoil Mhuire and I loved it. They were so supportive of me with the music. When I finished school I wanted to do primary teaching, but I had no Irish, so I decided to do a music degree and see where that would take me.

“I went to [the then] Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) Conservatory of Music and Drama in Dublin. I did a bachelor of music degree and the whole course was very classical,” says Rachel.

While country and folk music was still close to her heart, and she did some gigs to keep in touch with both sides of her voice, she decided to take a year out from college in Dublin.

“My singing teacher said I should go to Wales and do a master’s and told me I had what it took to do opera. I had never been in an opera at that stage so I did the master’s in Cardiff and I loved it and worked with some top class people in the profession.

“I sang with the Welsh National Orchestra and I worked with an amazing conductor who conducts in the Metropolitan Orchestra in New York. I learned so much and I really think that stands to me in all aspects of my performance.

“I later sang with the Irish National Opera in most of the big concert halls in Ireland including the National Concert Hall, the Bord Gáis Theatre and Wexford Opera House.”

A country return

Lockdown in March of 2020 refocused Rachel in a special way. Almost out of the blue, she found herself drifting back to the music of her parents and the sounds she grew up with in England.

“Everything stopped work-wise with lockdown and it made me sit down and really think about what I wanted to do. My dad and granddad had been telling me for years that I should really get into country music as my voice was very suitable for that genre.

“I was so busy with everything, on the road with gigs and in college and everything else. Life was too busy so lockdown was actually a great thing for me and gave me a new focus.

“I decided to record Coalminer’s Daughter by Loretta Lynn which was one of the songs on the Shades of Country album my parents had when we were in England. Crazy by Patsy Cline and Harper Valley PTA (composed by Tom T Hall) were on that album too. I love the country classics because that it what I grew up singing. My party piece at 10 years of age was Harper Valley PTA.

“I also recorded The Tennessee Waltz a few weeks ago. I am only starting out in the country genre and I love it. It feels natural and I am very relaxed singing it on stage.”

Rachel Goode will perform her first country concert guest spot at the annual Michael Commins Concert shows in the Clayton Hotel in Galway on Sunday 28 November.

The country sessions are back

Mick Flavin.

The return of the live music scene has been warmly welcomed by so many people all over the island of Ireland. The scene that had been shut down for over nineteen months is making a welcome comeback.

The annual Country Sessions, hosted by myself, Michael Commins in the Clayton Hotel in Galway will be staged on Sunday and Monday, 28 and 29 November.

Such is the demand for the concert shows that accommodation at the hotel is completely booked out for both nights but tickets are still available for both nights.

The shows have become legendary for the unique atmosphere and the warmth of the welcome as many return year after year to renew friendships and enjoy a lovely blend of new acts and favourite traditional country singers.

Around 30 acts will be on stage over the two nights and this year sees a good number of new acts make their debut. Headline acts on the Sunday night include John Glenn, Tony Kerr, Thomas McBride Jnr and Billy McFarland.

Dermot Hegarty is also coming over from England to celebrate a milestone birthday with the folks at the Clayton. Dermot, a native of Longford, had a series of top-10 hits in the 1970s and topped the charts with 21 years.

Patrons can look forward to another delightful show on Monday night when Mick Flavin, Gary Gamble, John Hogan and Olivia Douglas are among the headline acts.

Tickets for the shows are €30 and are available from the Clayton Hotel the usual outlets in Mayo, Galway and Roscommon and Ticketmaster.

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