Daniel O'Donnell releases new album and confirms tour dates as he prepares to mark 40 years making music

Daniel O'Donnell releases new album and confirms tour dates as he prepares to mark 40 years making music

IN just a few months’ time Daniel O’Donnell will celebrate a major career milestone.

February 2023 will see the singer mark 40 years in the music industry with his first record My Donegal Shore released on February 9, 1983.

Over the past four decades the Irishman has become a global star and a household name among Country and Irish music fans.

In the UK alone, he is one of the most successful recording artists of all time.

And in 2021 O’Donnell broke his own world record by becoming the first recording artist to chart at least one new album every year in the Artist Albums Chart for 34 consecutive years.

During his lengthy career he has amassed 19 Top 10 albums, with 17 of them this century - a feat not matched by any other recording artist.

And the 61-year-old has no plans to stop producing music any time soon – with his latest studio album I Wish You Well due to be released on November 4.

The album features 14 new recordings by O’Donnell, including a range of new songs provided by an impressive collection of Irish songwriters, as well as new covers of some of the singer’s favourite tracks.

“I enjoyed recording this album,” O’Donnell told The Irish Post this week.

“I did it earlier this year and I almost have enough for next year’s album too,” he admits.

Recorded at Black Mountain Recording Studios in Jenkinstown, County Louth, O’Donnell was keen to work with local musicians and songwriters on his 2022 project.

It was produced by Dave Atkins, who played in O’Donnell’s band before going into production full time, and Ciaran Mitchel, who is the singer’s Musical Director.

“I asked different writers if they would contribute songs to me for this album and lots of the Irish writers did,” O’Donnell explained.

“Some gave me a song; some gave me a couple. P J Murrihy, Brendan Graham, Patsy Cavanagh, Sean O’Farrell, Derek Ryan, lots of people wrote songs and I recorded them, so it was nice,” he explained.

“Fergal Flaherty too, so it’s been lovely.”

So good were the songs provided by his industry pals, that O’Donnell can’t choose a favourite.

“Do you know what, I just need to love the song, and because of that I picked songs to include on the album that I really liked when I heard them,” he says.

“I love the title track I Wish You Well,’ he adds, “Patsy Cavanagh wrote it, and it is a lovely song. But I like them all and I enjoyed doing them all.”

O’Donnell is preparing to release his album as he completes an international tour – which took him to his fans in Canada and the US, following a series of dates across Ireland.

For the artist, who is currently in the US, being able to tour following the restrictions that came during the Covid-19 pandemic is a welcome return to something like normal life.

“It’s great to be out touring, it means things are fairly normal I suppose,” he admits.

“It’s normal in a way and then it’s not,” he adds.

“The difference for me on this tour is that I haven’t done any meet and greets,” he explained.

“In Canada we were asked by our theatre venue not to do the meet and greets.

“Canada has just come out of their Covid-19 lockdown and so things are still very cautious there.

“And when you’re touring, if one of us gets the virus, the whole show is gone, so we have to be mindful about things like that too.”

However, O’Donnell is hopeful that they can get back to their usual shows – with fan interaction included – next year.

“Next May, I have it in my head that we will try and go back to absolute normality with the shows and do the meet and greets and what have you, but maybe just be a wee bit more cautious with handshaking and things like that,” he says.

“Covid-19 is not going to go away, that is the reality, we have to learn to live with it.”

He added: “The meet and greets after the shows was always a big part of what we did.

“Now, at the moment, people do appreciate the fact that the show is happening, and that is the overwhelming reaction, that they are just grateful to be out and seeing the show.

“I think that would go for any artist at the moment, and the understanding that this is how we have to deal with it.

“But going forward the best way is, hopefully, to be able to get back to normal.”

Daniel O'Donnell releases his latest album I Wish You Well on November 4

For 2023 to be the year of going back to ‘normal’ would be particularly fitting, given that it is a significant milestone year for the recording artist.

Although he admits, in some ways, those 40 years have passed in “no time” at all.

“It will be 40 years in February 2023 since I released My Donegal Shore, that was the first record,” he explained.

“It feels like no time in one way, and it feels like a long time in another,” he adds.

“You look back in different ways, but who could have known when I released that song what the future would hold. You could never have guessed.”

Over the years, through his music, O’Donnell has amassed a huge global fanbase.

He is as devoted to them as they are to him, and is grateful to see his music passing down through the generations.

“I was very lucky that I got a very loyal following down through the years, whenever I released an album, they were out there getting it,” he says.

“In the shops years ago, and now online too, where they are buying it in ways you could never have imagined 40 years ago, they were out there.”

So, what is the secret to his success so far?

“I don’t think I have ever had any plan on how to do things in my career,” he admits.

“At different periods songs would come along that just brought me to a different place.

“I’m not a million miles from 40 years ago, really, I am still singing My Donegal Shore, it sits in there along with Down at The La De Dah, you know.

“But the fans, they still just enjoy the music, they enjoy the shows.”

And those fans keep coming out all these years later – and they’re bringing their children and grandchildren too.

“A lot of the fans we would have had 40 years and 20 years ago they are not with us anymore, but it’s like people grow into music,” O’Donnell says.

“Maybe they wouldn’t have listened to me 20 years ago, but they are now.”

He added: “And I don’t know what that is, you know, but last night, at my show, I read out a message for a mother, daughter, granddaughter in the audience together and that is very common.

“You find somebody might come along whose mother or grandmother really loved the music and they come just out of a memory for them, and they realise that they really enjoyed the show, and they stay coming.

“That is amazing.”

With the US leg of his tour about to close, O’Donnell is preparing to release his new work and is looking forward to the fans’ reaction.

“There is always excitement around the time you come to release a new album,” he admits.

“God, yeah. You want to see if people enjoy it, hopefully they will.”

And next year O’Donnell will celebrate his anniversary with a series of tours, which will include a stint in the UK.

“It’s been a while since we came to UK,” he admits.

“We came out just after Covid, and that time people were definitely a little afraid, but they were great to be coming out to shows.

“But hopefully by next May people will feel confident that they are alright to come out and we hope to be in the UK next October.”

I Wish You Well – the highlights:

A mix of up-tempo songs and ballads, I Wish you Well includes two ‘Buble-esque’ tunes - Under A Spell of Loving You, written by Fergal Flaherty and Always There written especially for Daniel by Brendan Graham and Rolf Loevland, who wrote You Raise Me Up.

The album also features two songs by P J Murrihy, who has written for Daniel in the past, and who penned I’m Grateful and Plains Of Old Kildare.

Sean O’Farrell wrote If You Believe, and Once You Have Loved The Best and Patsy Cavanagh, who wrote Daniel’s first big hit My Donegal Shore, contributed the title track I Wish You Well.

Did you know?

Ireland’s best-loved singing sensation was born Daniel Francis Noel O’Donnell on December 12, 1961.

He was born in Dungloe, Co. Donegal to mother Julia O’Donnell (nee McGonagle) and Francis O’Donnell.

Married to Majella since November 4, 2002, he has two stepchildren Siobhan and Michaal, and (when not touring) lives in Kinclasslagh in Donegal.

His favourite food is mince and potatoes, favoutire holiday destination is Tenerife and his all-time favourite song is Miss You Nights by Cliff Richard.

I Wish You Well by Daniel O’Donnell is released on November 4. Dates for the I Wish You Well 2023 tour have just been announced, click here for full details.