I started out in Dublin in the early 80’s singing. I wanted to be a singing superstar ala Streisand. I dashed home from school to sing along with Barbra, at full volume, before dousing my pimples in TCP and rushing back to school.
I wanted to be famous, that was that. Pop, Musical Theatre which ever. Singing was what I was good at, ergo I should become a singer.
After a couple of years popping up to do guest spots for show bands and fronting local Dublin indie/pop bands I was spotted by producer Deke O’Brien. Deke teamed me with songwriter and sound engineer Dave Freely and we spent many nights and weekends working on Dave’s songs in Alto Studios where I was able to hone my skills as a studio singer.
Deke encouraged me to write, but I didn’t believe I had what it took or that I was clever enough and I was content singing other people’s songs, until I moved to London in the mid 80’s. I soon realised that a singer without a song has far less currency than a singer with a song so I bought myself a piano and set about becoming a songwriter.
I realise this sounds like my approach to singing and songwriting was a bit on the cold and calculating side but I simply didn’t have the skills or courage to dig any deeper into my own life experience and emotional drivers to put my soul and stories out there and I was still very focused on music as a means to fame and fortune and not anything more artistic.
Meanwhile I was making some headway session singing and through an advert in Stage and Television I found myself auditioning for a project underway at PWL, Pete Waterman’s studio and production company. I wasn’t chosen to front that project, I was too old at 24, but I was asked back as a session singer. My role often crossed the boundary between backing vocals and ‘ghost’ vocals where the session singer provides a bed for the lead singer and then the ‘artist’ sings along. sometimes the original vocal is mixed out or so far back as to be undetectable and more about tone and texture and sometimes the artist made only a cursory appearance. If you check some of the songs on my singing page you can try to work out which was which…
How ever working with PWL and particularly having been agreeable to performing ghost vocals, for which I was remunerated btw, I asked that I be included in some of the writing sessions and it was one of those collaborations with producers Phil Harding and Ian Curnow that I achieved my 1st co-writing credit.
I began to cultivate relationships with co-writers and it was those early collaborations that resulted in me signing my 1st publishing deal with Peer Music.
The main focus of my songwriting during those years was to build a catalogue of demos and secure a record deal, however that’s easier said than done! I was rejected by pretty much every major label in London and was on the brink of despair when through my friend and co-writer Neville Farmer I was introduced to Kate Hyman who signed me to the brand new US based Imago Label being set up by former Chrysalis boss Terry Ellis.
By then I was writing and singing much more from the heart and commercial considerations and constrictions were becoming less and less a feature in my work. My debut album To Hell With Love probably exposes this conflict quite well. Some songs were still more writing by numbers and some definitely hint at something deeper which came later and is more fully realised on my 2nd album Late Developer and subsequent EP’s Big Stick and DIY some of which are available on Bandcamp.
Below is a link to my blog 50 Greatest Misses which chronicles the stories around some of my songs both co-writes and solo efforts, though most of these songs never featured on a record or any release.
Growing up, alongside my dreams of superstardom, I also loved writing stories. I occasionally contemplated Journalism as a third level option, but having spent most of my school years avoiding actual work and study, I never had a hope of achieving the exam results to get a place in college. There was little or no expectation I would go on to 3rd level at home and no pressure to push myself at all really. A secretarial course and a husband was the expected roadmap for most non academic girls back then.
It was ironic to discover years later, that both my biological parents were journalists and very good ones at that!
It was when I started the Cushy club nights at the 12 Bar Club in the mid 90’s, promoting mine and other up and coming indie/alternative bands that I put my writing to work. Every month I prepared a blog, essentially, introducing the bands and any other relevant info, which I emailed to my growing mailing list and uploaded to the Cushy Productions website.
These posts were quite unusual at the time as there were no readymade blog apps or social media sites in existence back then so every month I dug into the source code of the website, which was technically supported and facilitated by my long suffering partner Manfred aka ‘Poor Manfred’ and I programmed the content. I learned by doing and my skills were focused on what I needed. I had no formal training or qualifications, but it worked.
Most importantly the club night put structure into my days. I had to have two or three bands booked, the promo disseminated and my own band ready, ideally and usually with a new song for my set, done and done by the last Thursday of the month. It was great having that incentive and my writing improved as I went along.
Now I am being asked to consult on scripts for some of the voice over work I do and also write copy and provide content for various media, internet and promotion.
When I moved home and started my family everything took a back seat till I hit the big 5 0 and decided I should tell the stories and air my many unheard songs and so I started the 50 Greatest Misses blog. Initially I hoped it would help me focus on working on regular posts and force me to get some of the pile of unused songs I had accumulated during the Cushy years out there, thus allowing me to make a brand new album, which it did, for a while. But life has a way of interfering with plans and good intentions and after a promising start the blog updates have been further and further apart. I have however meanwhile been writing and recording new music and to those of you who have patiently waited for the longstanding promise of a new record to be delivered, I can only say it is happening and I truly hope I will get it over the line in our lifetime;)