A rising name in the music scene, Jamie Donnelly is one of the many young artists bringing country to a new generation. The 22-year-old singer-songwriter from Strabane in Co Tyrone already has two studio albums under her belt, and is a contestant on the current season of TG4 country music talent competition Glór Tíre. She tells Irish Country Living about her achievements to date.
A lifelong passion
“Ever since I can remember, music has always played a big role in my life,” says Jamie. “I’ve been involved with choirs, orchestras and theatre productions from a young age so it’s always been second nature to me.”
Jamie’s love for country music comes from her family’s rural roots.
“My dad was brought up on a farm in Dromore, Co Tyrone, and has always been a fan of country music so I grew up listening to it. My dad always says being able to play music is a gift, and I truly feel blessed to be able to do so.
“However, it wasn’t until I started learning guitar with the late RJ Catterson when I fell in love [with country]. Each week he would teach us a new song and when I started singing along with it – really reading the lyrics and listening to their meaning – is when I knew this genre was special.”
Her inspiration comes from some of country’s most influential female artists.
“There are countless artists I look up to and aspire to be like, but I have a soft spot for Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Allison Kraus, Faith Hill and Lisa McHugh,” she explains. “My latest album pays homage to many of the women who influenced me to chase my dream and pursue music as a career. I also love the Irish females such as Louise Morrissey, Susan McCann and Philomena Begley who I have been lucky to meet and are equally as lovely as they are talented.”
Taking the stage
For Jamie, music and performance has always been the path she intended to follow as a career.
“I never felt like there was another option for me. It was either music or nothing,” she says. “Saying that, I’ve always been fond of the arts and I enjoy acting and dancing as well so I can always fall back on those career paths if music doesn’t work out for me. However, I’m very determined and a driven kind of person so I’ll not stop until I get where I want to be.”
Taking part in Glór Tíre has introduced Jamie to the glamorous side of the music industry. She explains that when she was approached for the show, she jumped at the opportunity.
“I got approached by my mentor David James last September and I couldn’t believe my luck really,” she says. “I’ve always been a fan of the show and as I’m currently taking a gap year from education, the timing fell perfectly.
“We filmed the first episode in October and it was such a class experience from start to finish. From hair and makeup to cameras and lights, and the house bands, it was truly amazing. I loved meeting and catching up with the rest of the contestants and the Glór Tíre crew couldn’t have been more welcoming.”
Expanding her career
Jamie is heading into 2023 off the back of a hugely successful year. In 2022 she was the recipient of the Best Female Newcomer award at the Northern Ireland Country Music Awards, and was named Rising Female Artist of the Year at the Hot Country Awards. She reflects on her achievements so far.
“I’ve achieved so much in a short space of time,” she says. “In 2022 alone I graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a bachelor’s degree in music, released my second studio album This One’s For The Girls and hosted my first show in my hometown, which was a real success.”
This year is shaping up to be another year of exciting opportunities for Jamie, with work already under way on new music.
“I’m back in the studio already working on new projects, which I can’t wait to share with my followers,” says Jamie. “I’ve a few guest appearances lined up for shows and festivals around the country so I’m really looking forward to those this year. I’m hoping Glór Tíre will bring new opportunities also. I never shy away from them.
“My goal at the minute is to continue to try and push my name out there as much as possible and grow my fanbase. I would eventually love to tour with my own show and band and continue to write and create music. As I’ve said, music is and always has been my life and greatest passion, so I’m really excited to see what the future holds.”
You can follow Jamie on Instagram @jamie_donnelly, on the Facebook page Jamie Donnelly Music, and listen to Jamie’s songs and latest album ‘This One’s For The Girls’ on Spotify and Apple Music.