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Hugo Duncan: Daniel O'Donnell's hit the right note with eclectic range of talent at his top-class show

Super siblings: Margo and Daniel O’Donnell
Super siblings: Margo and Daniel O’Donnell
Cliona Hagan who will also be performing at the event

By Hugo Duncan

When Daniel O'Donnell does things, he certainly doesn't do them by half-measures. So, when you see Opry le Daniel as the next big week-long attraction at the Millennium Forum in Derry, you just know it is going to be something special.

Sure enough, Daniel has assembled a cast of entertainers that span all age groups and styles within the overall country music sphere for this series of concerts, which will be televised by TG4.

I have known Daniel for many years now and the one thing that has always struck me about him is his professionalism.

His Opry le Daniel show continues to prove a big hit on television and, of course, Daniel is the ultimate professional in this respect.

For many years, he has been a familiar face on our screens and his easy manner and good humour act like a magnet in drawing in viewers.

Make no mistake about it, though: Daniel does things right, or not at all. He likes everything to be right and I am not in the least surprised to note the array of talent that has been booked for the Opry week, which runs from Saturday, June 15 until Friday, June 21.

You have a broad spectrum of talent there, from humble beginners to international stars - just the way Daniel wants it.

Tomorrow week sees the opening night of what will be a proverbial feast of top-class country music and Daniel is using this particular night to highlight the depth of young talent there is in the province, while at the same time showcasing the talents of his sister, Margo who is celebrating her 55th year in the business.

Chantelle Padden, Simon Peters, David James, Shauna McStravock and Gary Fitzpatrick are among the blossoming acts who will get an opportunity to strut their stuff before Margo assumes a centre-stage role.

Then, on Sunday night, June 16, it will be the turn of Country Heroes to perform and this affords some of our veteran performers the chance to prove that they are getting even better with the passing years.

I have no doubt that Louise Morrissey, Frank McCaffrey, Paddy O'Brien and Mary Duff will thrive on the Millennium stage, while they will be followed by three tremendous female acts in Crystal Gale, Philomena Begley and Susan McCann.

On Monday night, the spotlight will be on country music families, with Jimmy Buckley and his daughter, Claudia, the featured act, before the emphasis switches to popular acts from the days of the showband boom with Dickie Rock, Red Hurley and Gina and Paddy Cole holding the spotlight.

It will be the turn of Mike Denver and his mum, Roisin Fallon, to bring their own special show into vogue on Tuesday, June 18 and they will precede the Classic Country show which will feature John McNicholl, Trudi Lalor, Gerry Guthrie and Lisa Stanley.

On Wednesday, June 19 there will be a George Hamilton IV tribute show, with Geroge Hamilton V (his son) and George Hamilton VI (his grandson), would you believe, doing the honours, along with Sandy Kelly and Charlie McGettigan.

Then, on Thursday, June 20, there is a Nashville Country show, with Ashley Campbell, I Draw Slow and Max T Barnes stepping into the spotlight prior to a celebration of country gospel that will feature Cliona Hagan, Michael English and Patrick Feeney.

The curtain will come down on what promises to be a memorable week on Friday, June 21 when a special Glen Campbell tribute show will be held, with Ashley Campbell, Johnny Brady, Ciaran Rosney and Marc Roberts having key roles before a Celtic Country treat that will see Tommy Fleming and Eleanor Shanley, among others, perform.

There is obviously something for everyone there and I believe that country music fans will travel from near and far to see their favourite singers.

It's not often that so many artistes play in the same theatre during the course of any given week and this is what makes Opry le Daniel such a popular concept.

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