Belfast Telegraph

I’m in debt up to my eyeballs, admits Northern Ireland singer Amanda St John after crowdfunding website collapsed as she made new album

Glenariff singer Amanda St John has a lot riding on her latest record
Glenariff singer Amanda St John has a lot riding on her latest record

By David O'Dornan

Local singer Amanda St John has told how she took an immense financial risk to make her second album.

The single mother went into debt to produce The Muscle Shoals Sessions, having been forced to self-fund it after a crowdfunding website collapsed.

Tonight she is hosting a launch party in Portstewart on the first night of the Atlantic Sessions festival and is hoping to recoup some of her investment.

The 40-year-old, who's from the north coast, explained: "I have put my life savings into this album.

"The financial risk that I have taken is so immense that I am in the fear of it at the minute and am going, 'What have I done?'.

"I am praying that it comes good because I need as much help as I can to keep my head above water.

"I did get £5,000 from the Arts Council to do an EP in America, but whenever I got the famous Muscle Shoals studio confirmed, I knew I had to do an album.

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"I did a crowdfunder, but then PledgeMusic folded and I lost half the money in it and I am in debt to my eyeballs."

The Glenariff musician is hoping for a happy end to the year after losing dad Philip to cancer in the run-up to Christmas 12 months ago.

She said: "It's been the toughest year ever - emotionally, financially, every way. I invested so much that I had to get the album out to make sure I got it back, so I am under immense pressure at the minute.

"I have 1,000 copies of my album and you can order it through my website or buy it at my gigs.

"If I got them sold, I would break even and be able to keep my head above water.

"I got a bank loan, a loan from my mum, a credit card and overdraft - every possible avenue. I'm sitting at this minute going, 'What have I done?'.

"But I do have faith. I know that the first album did really well for me, so it's not blind faith, but I took a bigger risk this time and now the fear is greater."

Amanda juggles her career with being a mum to 12-year-old daughter Sophia.

She only decided to become a singer after a near-death experience in a car accident in her early 30s led to an epiphany.

She said: "In the midst of it I said, 'What do I need to do to get out of this? I'm not ready to die. What do I need to do?'.

"I got this really clear message about singing and I (knew) I would get another chance.

"I know it sounds so crazy, but it was a very spiritual epiphany. I knew then that if I got out of that alive that I would start to sing and I literally haven't stopped since.

"It's like somebody has opened the floodgates and I can't stop writing."

Amanda St John performs at the Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart at 9pm tonight. The Atlantic Sessions festival runs until Sunday. For more information, visit atlanticsessions.com

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