SINGING sensation Nathan Carter will be raising the roof in London as a star performer at the Irish Post Awards 2023.
Born and raised in Liverpool among a family with roots in counties Kerry and Down, the country music star has built a huge following across Britain, Ireland and further afield since he began performing professionally in 2010.
In the nearly 14 years that have passed he has released more than a dozen solo albums, six of which have taken Number One position in Ireland’s album chart.
But it was his 2012 album Wagon Wheel, and the title track in particular - which was a cover of Bob Dylan’s song, that truly sent his star soaring, gaining him national and international recognition and a fanbase to match.
It’s fair to say he hasn’t looked back since and the success continues as Carter’s most recently released album The Morning After went straight in at Number One in the Irish charts upon its release in November 2022.
This year, the Fermanagh-based singer, who moved to Ireland at the age of 18, has been busier than ever touring, but he claims that suits him as he loves nothing more than getting out on stage and being with the fans.
“It’s been a busy year and we have had a really busy summer,” Carter told The Irish Post this week.
“We were in Ireland most of the time, but we did a couple of Irish festivals in the UK too.
“Craic by the Creek in Manchester and Páirc Festival in Birmingham were both tremendous successes, which was great to see.”
Carter is the first star performer announced for the Irish Post Awards 2023, which will be co-hosted by TV legend Eamonn Holmes and singer Lisa McHugh.
The event, which returns this year after a brief hiatus due to the pandemic, will bring the singer back to England in November, which he admits is always a “special” place to perform.
And that’s because the Irish community in Britain matters to Carter. Those that come out to watch him perform are not just fans, they are his people.
As a young boy growing up in Liverpool, with parents who hailed from Newry in Co. Down, he played the accordion and was a member of Comhaltas.
That saw him performing traditional Irish music in clubs and centres across the country throughout his formative years.
So, playing gigs for Irish people in Britain now feels like coming home, the 33-year-old admits.
“Having spent many years playing Irish venues with Comhaltas, it’s really good to be back in these communities again now,” he admits.
“Being born in Liverpool I played a lot of the Irish clubs in Britain growing up but they’ve nearly all gone at this stage,” he adds, “so the type of festivals we played at this summer kind of gets the whole gang back together again.
“And people are coming out and supporting them, which is really, really good.”
He explains: “Gigs in the UK are special for me, obviously I was playing all these clubs growing up and you can still see those faces, people now in their 70s, 80s and 90s, they are still there.
“It’s nice, it reminds me of old times whenever I play those gigs.”
Every year Carter plays one gig in Liverpool, a homecoming concert which brings his family and friends together in the city.
Earlier this month he was back in his hometown for the 2023 instalment of this time-honoured tradition, where fans were also treated to a special guest performance on the night.
“I only play Liverpool once a year,” Carter explains.
“The gig this month, that was really special as my grandad was on stage singing with me and he is going to be 90 in a few months.
“It’s always a great gig as I get to see my family and friends and lads that I went to school with who I never see because obviously I now live in Ireland.
“And I always get my grandad to come out and sing with me at the Liverpool gig.
“He has been singing all his life, not professionally, but he is, as he calls himself, ‘an alehouse singer’.
“He loves getting on stage, so it always happens in Liverpool, you know, when all the family are there.”
And it was that same grandfather - whose family hailed from Co. Kerry – that set young Carter on the path to performing the Country and Irish music songs he is now renowned for.
“It’s brilliant to perform with my grandad,” the singer says.
“He is actually the reason I got into this type of music.
“I used to go and stay with my grandparents at the weekends, and he would be playing all his old vinyl, songs by Johnny Cash, the Dubliners, the Clancys.
“Really old stuff that maybe a six or seven-year-old shouldn’t really be listening too, but I just loved it.
“And now I do those types of songs with a bit of a modern take, and I think that might be why my music is appealing to some of the younger ones in the audience.”
Carter’s fanbase spans a huge demographic.
At any gig he can have an audience with an age range from nine years old to 90 years old and he believes the accessibility of Country and Folk music is responsible for that.
“I always have a very mixed audience at my gigs,” Carter says.
“It’s kids to grannies and grandads, which always makes for a really good atmosphere.
“I think it’s because Country and Folk, that type of music, has no age limit on it.
“I’m not singing rap music or dance classics, it’s wholesome music that anyone can jump in with and play along and sing along with, so it has a very wide demographic and appeal.”
It certainly has that.
To date Carter has played multiple shows in leading international music venues, including five sold out shows at the London Palladium, 3 Arena Dublin, the SSE Arena Belfast, the Royal Concert Hall Glasgow and the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness.
He has also toured extensively across North America, Germany and Australia as well as in Britain and Ireland.
And he finds time to record new music too. In fact, he has a pretty exciting new release which he is about to launch.
“I am recording a new single at the moment, a cover of a song called In a Rocket, and Sharon Shannon is going to be on that with me,” Carter revealed.
“Sharon is playing the box accordion, and we are going to be performing it on the Late Late Show Country Music Special next Friday [October 6].
“Obviously, Patrick Kielty is hosting that now, so that is going to be a bit of fun, and Sharon has become a good friend through the years, so she jumped on board for the single,” he added.
And then there is the small matter of the biggest night on the Irish community’s calendar coming up in November.
Carter will perform at the Irish Post Awards, which return to London on November 9 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane.
“I am coming to the Irish Post Awards, and I can’t wait,” Carter said.
“I was at the Awards a few years ago and it was a really good night, so when we got the call for the 2023 event, I was like ‘yes, that would be great’.
“I will have to dig the tux out again,” he laughs.
“It’s going to be a great night and I’m really looking forward to it.”
You can catch Nathan Carter at The Irish Post Awards 2023 on November 9. For further information and booking details click here.