Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Arlene Foster sings in All I Want For Christmas Is You charity song

Northern Ireland famous faces take part for Aspire NI

By Claire McNeilly

DUP leader Arlene Foster, Sinn Fein's Orlaithi Flynn, X Factor star Eoghan Quigg and UTV's Pamela Ballantine are among the famous faces who have come together to record a special charity version of Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You.

The celebrity crooners took on the American diva's vocally challenging lyrics in aid of Aspire NI - an organisation that works with children from disadvantaged families.

The video for the cover of the festive classic is presented by David Blevins of Sky News and features a host of local talent, including YouTube singing sensation Emma Horan, comedy boy-band Moss Road, Britain's Got Talent finalist Jordan O'Keefe and model Sophia Mitchell.

Aspire NI founder Mark Knox, the man behind the venture, said both the track and politicians were chosen with the ongoing Stormont stalemate in mind.

"We had the idea of asking the DUP and Sinn Fein to take part in a fun recording, which was one of the reasons why we chose that particular song - a really difficult one to sing - this year," he said.

"It's one of very few events this year that both of our main political parties have taken part in, but the issue is an important one - and seeing opposing politicians together offers a glimpse of hope at Christmas."

All proceeds from the video recording, which is being released today under the Band Aid NI 2017 banner, will go to the charity.

Although the makeshift band, which also features gospel singer Nathan Jess, cannot formally release the song as a single due to copyright restrictions, they hope the video will raise awareness of the charity and encourage everyone to donate. People can also buy jumpers.

Mr Knox came up with the idea with friend Ross McConnell after they started Moss Road together, and last year's Band Aid NI project, a cover of Do They Know It's Christmas, was an instant success, gaining 52,000 views and raising more than £2,000.

With the return of Dungiven native Eoghan (25), who sang on the 2016 collaboration, they hope to raise even more this time around.

"It's a good charity that does amazing work for kids, but it depends on public funding and it only took up an hour of my time," said Eoghan, who added that he was delighted to have been asked back.

"Aspire NI are the good guys; they're the heroes helping children. I am just delighted I was asked to take part, and if everyone can give a wee bit it can go a long way."

Eoghan will certainly be busy in the run-up to Christmas, co-hosting Q Radio Breakfast with Ryan A, as his fledgling career as a broadcaster gathers momentum.

But while the words of the newly-released track undoubtedly encapsulate his feelings for Amy Campbell (23), his girlfriend of two years, the 2008 X Factor finalist conceded that there wouldn't be a major announcement about his personal life this yuletide.

"Amy's definitely the one, but I haven't thought about marriage just yet," he said.

"Ask me in another five years when I'm 30."

Meanwhile, Sky journalist David (46), husband to Ruth (44) and a father of three teenagers, said he was happy to play host because of the inspirational work the charity does.

"I have a real passion for equality in education; every child needs to be given an equal opportunity, so what Aspire NI is doing is really important," he said.

"I also did my best to get the DUP and Sinn Fein involved in it because we need to take the politics out of the education of our children, and I admire Arlene and Orlaithi for doing this."

And all he wants for Christmas?

"I'd like a less stressful 2018, because it's been such a busy year and I didn't see nearly enough of my family," he revealed.

The video was filmed at Redeemer Central Church in Belfast's Donegall Street on one day last month, with the singers turning up to perform at different times.

UTV's Pamela (59) was only too happy to oblige once again this year.

"I'm not a singer but it was so much fun doing Band Aid NI 2016 that I wanted to get involved, particularly because the guys put so much of their hearts into it," she said.

"I'm happy to make an eejit of myself for a good cause."

The retro-sounding All I Want For Christmas Is You was co-written and recorded by Carey in 1994 and is now a staple of the festive music canon.

The video goes live today on Aspire NI Facebook page (www.facebook.com/aspireNI) and on www.aspireni.org where the All I Want For Christmas Is You Christmas jumpers worn by all of the stars in the video are available to buy to raise funds for Aspire NI.

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