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Tyrone’s Cliona bringing it home for Strabane Summer Jamm

02 June 2017

It’s still only 12 months since Cliona Hagan and her band burst onto the Irish music scene but the Tyrone songstress has crammed more into the last year than many artists achieve in a lifetime.

A string of national awards and hit singles have firmly established her as the most exciting rising star on the thriving Irish country music circuit but it’s hard not to feel the best is yet to come from the Balinderry native.

On Sunday June 11th Cliona brings her high octane brand of country to her native county for the final day of the 2017 Strabane Summer Jamm Festival and she has promised revellers a performance to remember.

“We give it 120% every time we perform,” said the 26 year-old. “A lot of people have said that we seem to genuinely enjoy ourselves on stage and that is so true, we love the music we perform and it’s great that we are able to laugh and have the craic when we are doing it.

“I’m quite ditsy and that can produce a lot of unexpected laughs on stage, we were in Navan last week and I was handed my share of raffle tickets for the draw later that night, I started reading the numbers out to the crowd thinking they were the draw winners and the rest of the band were bent over laughing before I realised what I’d done.

“The positive response from audiences up and down the country over the last year has been genuinely overwhelming, we have every different style of country music in our set so hopefully there is something for everyone.”

Although now a star in her own right, a ringing endorsement live on RTE’s 2015 Late Late Show Country Special from Philomena Begley proved a landmark moment in Cliona’s fledgling career.

Philomena’s son Aidan Quinn had a lead role in setting up the band and now performs the triple role of manager, band leader and drummer.

“Aidan has been great and it’s brilliant to have the support from him and his mother Philomena who has a lifetime of experience in the industry,” admitted Cliona.

“They believed in me as a performer from the start and showed their faith in me by giving me my break and that has always meant a lot to me.

“We are great friends but we also have a fantastic working relationship, it’s a tough industry and you need good, positive people around you who have your best interests at heart which I’m lucky to have.”

Her string of awards over the last year have included Best Newcomer at the RTE Irish Country Music Awards, Irish TV Music Awards and the Irish Country Music Radio Awards as well as Most Promising New Act at the Hot Country Music Awards.

She has built up quite a reputation as a television presenter too, hosting her own country music show ‘Keltic Country Ireland’ on Sky Channel 238 and co-hosting the Irish TV Irish Country Music Awards with fellow Tyrone singer Malachy Cush.

Throw in a number one album in ‘Straight to you’ and eight hit singles and it’s easy to see why she was the natural choice as chief support to Nathan Carter on his ‘Carter on the Costa’  tour of Spain in the Autumn.

“It’s been a fantastic 12 months,” she admitted. “I’ve been fortunate to win numerous awards, to have a number one album and host my own country music show.

“It’s been really hard work but I’ve loved every minute of it and I feel privileged to get up and do a job I love every day. 
“Getting my own band on the road has definitely been one of the highlights, it’s been something I’ve always wanted to do and to have been so well supported by the fans since we started touring has meant a lot.

“It’s been a steep learning curve for me over the last year but I have experienced so much along the way.”
·       The Strabane Summer Jamm Festival will run from Friday June 9thuntil Sunday June 11th with a mix of music, fun fair, arts, children’s activities and markets taking place in various locations in the town.

The Country Stage, headlined by Cliona Hagan, David James and Johnny Brady has live music from 3pm until 7pm on Sunday.
The event is suitable for all ages and tickets can be purchased now at www.derrystrabane.com/SummerJamm where tickets for all three days are also available. Tickets are also available from the Alley Theatre Box Office.