The combined efforts of folks from Tipperary, Laois and Tennessee has resulted in the Easter Sunday night free virtual Reach Out Country Concert.
The plan is to raise thousands through online donations for the ISPCC’s Childline Listening Service.
Mountrath native Trudi Lalor instigated the Reach Out idea during lockdown. This saw her coordinate the venture where country fans who would like to get a call from one of their favourite artists would get in touch with her and she would pass on the details to the singers.
A similar venture for GAA followers, pioneered by Mayo’s David Brady, was already working a treat in that field of activity.
“This pandemic put a complete stop to all forms of live music entertainment and we won’t be able to perform live shows to an audience again for at least a few more months. We thought it would be a good idea to help fans and entertainers reconnect through means of a phone call,” says Trudi.
“We approached a few friends in the music business and they all thought it was a great idea and were only too happy to get involved. The idea took off in a big way and we have connected hundreds of fans with their favourite singers every week. It has worked a treat for the entertainers and the fans who are so delighted to get the surprise calls.”
Her husband, Billy Morrissey from Tipperary, contacted his friend, Max T Barnes, a singer-songwriter based in Nashville, with an idea to pen a song that reflected the values and ethos of the new initiative.
The end result was a number called Reach Out which resulted in the largest ever collaboration of Irish country entertainers lending support to the one song.
Over 70 voices are featured in the recording including; Daniel O’Donnell, Nathan Carter, Margo, Mike Denver, Michael English, Derek Ryan, Philomena Begley, Trudi Lalor, Dominic Kirwan, Cliona Hogan, Sandy Kelly, Declan Nerney, Una Healy, Jimmy Buckley, Robert Mizzell, Patrick Feeney and many more.
Billy says: “Because of lockdown, the singers could not travel to one central studio to record the song so lots of studios around the country made their facilities available. The various recordings were sent to Jonathan Owens in Spout Studio in Granard to be mixed for the final product. The result was amazing and it’s a credit to all involved including the various session musicians who freely gave their time and talent to the project.”
The song hit the number one spot across all download platforms in Ireland and has also been featured prominently on the Spotlight country channel on Sky 365 over the last few weeks.
Max T Barnes, who rented a holiday home near Ballyhaunis in Mayo in 2018 and 2019 and who was looking forward to returning there in 2020 until the pandemic restrictions closed down that avenue, expressed his delight with the success of the song.
“I’ve been blessed to have had several of my songs hit the top spot here in the US over the years, but I’m really chuffed to get a number one in Ireland. It’s just great to see a country song at the top!”
The runaway success of the single provided the impetus for the next step and a huge operation has gone behind the organising of the virtual ‘Reach Out’ concert which will bring a feast of country music to homes around the island of Ireland and overseas on Easter Sunday night.
“Everyone involved in the ‘Reach Out’ initiative is thrilled to be supporting ISPCC Childline through the biggest ever gathering of Irish country music stars,” says Trudi. “Over the past year, we have seen the vital difference it can make to have someone there to listen.
“Children and young people have faced huge challenges and have been cut off from school, extended family members and friends. It is so important that Childline is always there for them. By reaching out to support Childline throughout the concert, music fans can help to make a lasting difference for children and young people by making sure they always have somewhere they can turn.”
All of this comes at a time when so many of the vital fundraising activities on which we rely each year cannot go ahead
ISPCC Childline chief executive John Church, is very appreciative of the generosity extended by the Irish country music community in reaching out to help their service.
“Children have been significantly impacted by the events of the past 12 months, many are experiencing mental health difficulties, impacted by tensions at home and miss their activities, extended family members and other supports in their lives.
“All of this comes at a time when so many of the vital fundraising activities on which we rely each year cannot go ahead. Our service relies on donations for over 90% of the funding which keeps us here for every child and young person in Ireland 24 hours a day, every day. We need to make sure we are always here when they feel ready to take that brave step of making that call, sending that message or talking with us online.”
Very many of the singers from the Reach Out single will be performing at the concert also.
The concert will be livestreamed at 8pm on Easter Sunday, 4 April, and can be accessed online at www.Reachout2021.com. Details of how to donate are shown on the page.