To say that country music has a special place in the hearts of music lovers in Ireland would be an understatement. Ireland has a long-standing affinity with country and it has seen a surge in popularity among younger generations in recent years.

David James is a country singer and local radio presenter who hails from Killea in Co Donegal, a small village near the border with Derry. David speaks to Irish Country Living about his career highs and love for all things country.

Early interest

“I started singing when I was around 12 and I started because they were short of numbers for the school musical and they asked me to sing,” David explains. “I had never sang before that. So I ended up getting sort of roped into the school musical and discovered that I really enjoyed it.”

“Then I got into country music because my brother Gerard, who’s five years older than me, was always into country music and he took me along to The Country Fest in Letterkenny. I just loved country music and I’ve been singing it ever since.”

Once David discovered his grá for country music, he began performing in pubs across Donegal when he was just 15.

“I would go from pub to pub around Donegal, pretty much whichever venue would take me,” he says. “We’d cram all the gear into my dad’s jeep and he’d drive me everywhere, every single weekend for about six years.

“I spent years playing in really small pubs with very small audiences. Then I got a few breaks when I released Donegal Doll. It did pretty well, and then I got the opportunity in 2020 to record the duet with Daniel O’Donnell. So that just lifted it another step then again.”


The opportunity to record a duet with Daniel O’Donnell arose during the COVID-19 pandemic. While this was an uncertain time for people in the music industry, for David the duet was to be a career highlight.

Originally the pair were planning to perform a live duet at the 30-year celebration of Donegal’s Highland Radio. However, the cancellation of the event led them to record a brand-new single.

“We were looking for songs to record and we couldn’t find one that was suitable,” David explains. “So we asked Shunie Crampsey – a well-known songwriter from Donegal – to write us a song. Don’t Take The Good Times For Granted was the final product.

“It gave me my first taste of national television as well, appearing on the likes of The Late Late Show and The Six O’Clock Show, Ireland AM and The Nolan Show on BBC.”

On the airwaves

As well as singing, David has enjoyed a successful career presenting The Jivetime Show on Highland Radio.

“That opportunity came around because I was doing an interview with Highland Radio for a gig I was doing back in 2017,” says David. “After the show, the lady contacted me and said, ‘I think you have a nice voice and it might be suitable for radio. We’re on the lookout for some cover presenters if you would be interested.’ So I sent them in a demo and they liked it, so they took me in and trained me up.”

After covering on the station from October until December 2017, David was offered a full-time presenting role, which he has been in since January 2018. David explains that being in radio has been hugely beneficial in expanding his career.

“It’s really broadened my horizons. It’s just put me in touch with so many people and opened so many doors and it’s a job that I really enjoy doing, as well.”

David continued to present his show in the studio during the pandemic – something which helped him and the show’s listeners to stay positive.

“I got a great joy from the radio during the pandemic because the amount of messages that I got from people every day – I’m talking maybe a hundred messages a day in the heart of the pandemic – just to say how grateful they were that I was on and in good spirits and trying to give everyone a lift when we were stuck indoors. That was great, I took a real positive from that.”


When asked where he sees his career heading in the next few years, David reveals that while he enjoys both radio and performing, his ambition is to have his own concert tour on the road and to expand his profile in the UK.

“It’s one of those things where it’s very hard to know what’s going to happen because you could be really popular in this industry one day and really unpopular the next,” he explains.

“It’s a really unpredictable industry, both the media and broadcasting side of things and the performing.”

David has some exciting opportunities lined up for the year ahead, after getting signed by BBC-owned record label Demon Records.

“I got my album finished and it will be due for release in 2023. I’m also doing a cruise to Alaska, I’m one of the guests on it so I’m going to Alaska at the end of May/ start of June. And then just lots of great gigs in the calendar for 2023, so hopefully another busy year.”

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