BY SEÁN P. FEENY
On FRIDAY, July 12, a rising star on the Donegal music scene will finally mark the upcoming launch of debut album with a very special preview concert at the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny.
Carndonagh based singer Kate O’Callaghan has gone from strength to strength since releasing her first EP of original songs three years ago.
What makes Kate’s journey so interesting is that, a scientist with a doctorate in biology, the Dublin native only began singing seven years ago when she moved to Inishowen where she lives with her husband, Carndonagh native Seamus Devenny, and their two sons.
After honing her skills as a singer, initially with the Inishowen Gospel Choir, Kate went on to collaborate with many other Donegal artists until she began writing her own material and released her first EP, To You, in the summer of 2010.
Now she is all set for a big night at the Regional Cultural Centre to present you her new album, The Still Beyond, with a host of talented musicians backing her up.
Kate said she spent the guts of a year recording the album fitting it around ‘everyday family life’. “It wasn’t a case of having twelve songs ready to go into the studio and recording, we just tipped away fitting it around family life.”
The album was recorded with renowned musician Ted Ponsonby at his Soundpool Studio in Letterkenny. “There was a very organic feel to the recording process with Ted and I am very pleased with the end result,” said Kate.
The singer said Ted’s wealth of experience was a great asset. “Ted co-produced the album with me and was very fundamental in a lot of decisions.
“It was great to have someone with his experience on hand making important decisions on things that I would never have thought of. Sometimes it can be very helpful to have somebody else look at something to get their own unique take on it.”
Kate’s husband, well-known musician Seamus Devenny, is her right-hand man when it comes to her music. “Seamus played all the drums and percussion on the album and all violins, except one additional violin on one of the songs, which was Ted’s daughter Sarah.”
Since the release of her debut EP, To You, three years ago, Kate has performed on a very regular basis. “A good friend of mine, singer songwriter Finbarr Doherty, also features on guitar. I play with him regularly. On double bass is Sligo’s Eddie Lee and I was also pleased that my old friends the Henry Girls also featured on the album with me.”
Kate also recently featured in the new YouTube series, Goof’s Gaff @ The Workshop, which is filmed at the home of instrument makers, The Howards of Letterkenny.
Kate’s recording of her new song Feel is the fourth instalment of the series, following performances by Ted Ponsonby, Pat Muldowney and Charlie McGettigan.
“My own guitar was actually made by Jamie Howard, Fitz’s son, and I feel so privileged to have been asked to be part of this series, following such legendary musicians.”
As Kate prepares for her concert at the RCC, things have been ‘nerve-wrecking’. “This is a big thing for me; I have performed with big bands before, but of late it has mainly been a two-piece and performing further afield. To get to play my music in Donegal with a big band is very special, and it has the makings of an incredible, one of those that don’t come around too often.”
Patrons coming to the concert on July 12, will receive a complimentary copy of Kate’s new album and will be the first people to receive one, as The Still Beyond, will not be out for general release until September 9. Kate has a busy schedule ahead of her which will see her performing various locations supporting acts such as her good friends the Henry Girls and Session Americana from Boston, as well as her double bill with US band The Wiyos at the Balor Arts Centre on September 27.