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Hugo Duncan: Natasha Magee shows she's a chip off the old block with launch of her new album


Right track: Natasha Magee
Right track: Natasha Magee

By Hugo Duncan

Natasha Magee is the talented daughter of popular country singer Curtis Magee and she is certainly following in her father's footsteps.

From Coleraine, but now living and working in London, Natasha is set to launch her new CD on Friday next at The Lodge Hotel in her home town.

The CD portrays her singing talent and underlines the fact that she is the complete entertainer.

Indeed, there is tremendous excitement locally surrounding the launch. The CD includes a hit single, Nothing to do With You, written by well-known Nashville singer and songwriter Max T Barnes and two duets with popular North West singers Raymond Kelly, from The Indians showband and emerging sensation Jordan Mogey.

The title track, written by Natasha, has charted in the UK Country Charts and PositiviTEA, her second album, features some of the greatest country songs that have influenced her musical journey. Curtis, of course, hosts his annual four-day country extravaganza at The Lodge Hotel and this has become a fixture in the annual country music calendar here.

Even though he performs quite a lot in Scotland and England, Curtis still finds time to fulfil many engagements in this part of the world and Natasha looks as if she might be able to claim some of the success which her father has enjoyed.

She is a lively, vibrant performer, who certainly knows how to put a song across and I certainly wish her well with her new CD.

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By the way, I will have Foster and Allen as my studio guests on Thursday, September 26 when we will no doubt revive a few memories by delving into yesteryear. I must say I enjoy the company of these two hugely popular artistes, whose feet have remained firmly planted on the ground despite all the success they have enjoyed both at home and abroad.

Double delight for fans of good music as class act Michael to release two singles at same time

Michael English

Michael English, who will appear with his band at the popular Silverbirch Hotel in Omagh tonight, certainly does not believe in doing things by half-measures.

The popular Kildare singer has carved out a niche for himself in the annals of Irish country music by releasing not one, but two singles in the same week.

The wonder is that Michael, who is among the busiest of singers in this country because of his hectic dancing itinerary, impressive concert diary and frequent Continental shows, got time to record the numbers in the first place.

But where there is a will, there's a way and judging by the quality of both numbers, Michael left no stone unturned when he was in the recording studio.

Waltz of a Lifetime and A Man Without Love are the songs that Michael hopes will provide further impetus to a career that has taken him up among the elite of Irish country bands.

I well remember when Michael was a solo concert performer; a whizz-kid on the piano, who was able to hold audiences enthralled because of the quality of his singing and his easy, laid-back manner.

In the earlier days, it was Henry McMahon who provided a launching pad for Michael by writing his massive debut hit The Nearest to Perfect, but his musical career subsequently took a different route.

It was when he started out on the road with his own country band under the capable baton of Mayo entrepreneur Paul Claffy that Michael really hit the high spots.

Since then, he has enjoyed considerable success on the recording front with numbers such as Ding Dong, Sing My Song, Will Ya Dance, Joey on the Fiddle, Ten Guitars, Crazy For You, Dance All Night Angelina and The Tuam Beat.

Indeed, such has been the intensity of his recording programme that he has simply kept raising the bar for himself.

Yet, even though he invariably finds that he is confronted by a busy itinerary, Michael somehow always finds it possible to squeeze in appearances at events that are not in the public eye.

Such an event was my own birthday bash at my home in Strabane a few years ago to raise money for Children in Need (I'm standing the test of time well, or so I like to think!).

I had met Michael at a concert at which we performed a few weeks prior to my birthday date and I had asked him if he would attend, although I feared that his many engagements would preclude him from doing so.

Imagine my surprise, then, when Michael appeared at my front door and needed no second invitation to sing a few songs, much to the delight of my family and friends.

He had been playing the night before, but still got into his car the next morning and drove all the way from Kildare to attend my party.

"I didn't think you would have made it, given the workload you have," I said. "Hugo, I wouldn't have missed it for the world," replied Michael. I must say, I was deeply touched.

Nathan Carter, Billy McFarland and the late Gene Stuart were others who were there and they certainly added to the occasion.

I am not in the least surprised that Michael has gone from strength to strength and I have no doubt that his two latest releases will create considerable excitement among his many followers.

Michael is one of those people who takes everything in his stride and it is his professionalism and commitment that have helped to make him such a popular artiste.

He will shortly be undertaking an extensive theatre tour and will be appearing at a number of Ulster venues.

He appears to have established a strong rapport with the province and I imagine that this bond will be further strengthened over the course of the coming weeks.

Country stars will be out in force to help Shelley

Good cause: Jim Devine

Earlier in the summer, during my outside broadcast in Irvinestown, I had a chat live on air with a young lady named Shelley Cowan.

In the course of our conversation, she told me that a fundraising concert would be held in the Delaney Suite in Irvinestown on Thursday, September 19 in order to raise funds for a new Motability vehicle for her.

On that particular day, I told her that if I was available on that night, I would come along and sing a few songs for her. I must say, I am certainly looking forward to meeting up with the very pleasant Shelley again at what I hope will prove a very significant and meaningful occasion for her.

I am quite sure that she will enjoy huge support for what I see as an excellent cause. When it comes to helping others, country music artistes are seldom found wanting.

And that's why I am not in the least surprised to learn that Johnny Brady, Jim Devine, Aiden Quinn, Andy Lowry ('The Singing Diggerman') and loads of others too numerous to mention here. MC for the evening will be Malcolm McDowell.

Mind you, if I get the chance to have a quiet word with Malcolm, I will ask him to be sure and not call Joe Mahon up to sing!

I have no doubt that the show will be a big success and I sincerely hope that the proceeds enable Shelley to procure the transport that she requires.

Obviously, the demands on entertainers in terms of concerts and shows can be high, but it is very encouraging to note how many are prepared to give up their evening next Thursday to do their bit in giving Shelley a helping hand.

Although my pleasant face does not enhance the poster, I will be there.

And, you never know, she might let me sing a song or two.

Wee man from Strabane has a van... for sale

I am having transport problems right now, because my little red van is now a bit like me — it’s getting older every day, with more and more miles going on the trot at a rapid rate.

Incidentally, how would you like to be carrying me round on your back every day?

I went over to an old friend of mine in Enniskillen, Mickey Donal (Donnelly), at the weekend and tried to do a wee deal with him, but you would have a better chance of finding a set of hen’s teeth!

However, I am still working on this matter, but time is of the essence, because it’s getting close to the time when both the van and the Wee Man will have to undergo MOT tests.

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