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Hugo Duncan: Ireland's adopted son Robert Mizzell keeping busy and selling out shows

Polished performer: Robert Mizzell
Polished performer: Robert Mizzell
Lisa McHugh

By Hugo Duncan

When Robert Mizzell appeared along with his father on the recent Late, Late Country Show on RTE, it certainly helped to underline that he had not picked up his performing skills off the stones.

Father and son formed a very talented combination and it set me thinking that here was someone who came to Ireland over 20 years ago and carved out a very successful career for himself as a top-class country singer.

It is worth recalling that there were a lot more bands on the road in this country then and it was that little bit more difficult for a newcomer to make an impact.

But Robert's talent quickly shone through. The 'Louisiana Man' - the son of a preacher man, would you believe - was to follow in the footsteps of Roly Daniels, who came here from India, in reaching a high level of popularity.

They have been followed, in turn, by Nathan Carter, who breezed in from Liverpool to take the country world by storm, and Lisa McHugh, who was born in Scotland, but has since made her home in Enniskillen.

Robert Mizzell, though, holds a special place in the hearts of Irish country music fans. Not only is he a very polished singer, he also boasts considerable stage presence - he does not just sing a song, he actually lives it, because of the passion and commitment he puts into his work.

His most recent single, The Farmer, goes some way towards underlining his versatility and is certainly helping to enhance his appeal in dancing venues up and down the country.

He is perceived as the all-American boy in this country and with good reason, too. He is outgoing, affable and enjoys the craic, but at the same time he is a very professional performer who puts his heart and soul into his work.

At a time when some bands are trimming back on personnel, Robert only recently added a new member to his outfit and it is now seven-strong - just the same as an old showband, in fact.

Not only has Robert achieved success in his own right, but he has also played a big part in helping to make The Three Amigos a huge act.

Along with Patrick Feeney and Jimmy Buckley, Robert has helped to make the act one of the most successful in Ireland and when they tour on an annual basis, the "house full" signs invariably go up.

Robert now resides in Westmeath with his wife, the former Adele Speer from Spamount near Castlederg, and their children.

Adele's father, Gordon, is a noted musician and when she first met Robert, she was a regular at the-then Friday night dance series in the Mellon Country Hotel in Omagh.

Ironically, Robert will be in the very same area tonight when he performs with his band at Lola's in the Silverbirch Hotel in Omagh.

"I now have strong links with Co Tyrone, but I'm not complaining about that," smiles Robert. "Obviously, we are living down in the midlands, but this helps to make travel easier in terms of getting to venues in various parts of the country. We are quite central in that sense."

Robert is now very much the family man and enjoys nothing better than getting home to his wife and children every night.

"I love getting home to my wife and the children, especially if I have been away for a few days. There is a lot of travelling involved when you are part of the entertainment business.

"We are heading off to the continent next week, when I will be hosting my annual country music week on the Costa Brava, at which I will have a number of Irish acts performing, including Patrick Feeney and Jimmy Buckley.

"After that, we will only be back here in Ireland for a few days before we are off to England and Scotland for a series of dates.

"But we're not complaining - it's great to be busy. I would not have it any other way."

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