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Busy country singer John enjoys the travelling life

By Margaret Chrystall

IRISH country star John McNicholl – hand-picked in an early break to attend the CMA Global Showcase in Nashville by Dolly Parton’s management – has a hectic performing life, but still likes to make his own bread when he is home.

Home was once small village Foreglen in Derry, though these days he is based in Knock in County Mayo.

But even as a child, John always knew he wanted to perform.

As he prepared to head over from Ireland to Thurso on Saturday for the Hooley At Easter event in the Royal British Legion, John looked back.

“The teacher at school would say ‘John, what would you like to be when you grow up?’.

“Well I haven’t really grown up yet but I’ve got older!” he laughed. “But I always used to say ‘I’d love to be a film star or an actor’.

“When you tell your parents that you want to be a famous singer or an actor, they look at you as if you have 10 heads and say ‘You’ll need to get a real job first!’.”

That is exactly what John did – opting for a career as a chef while he learned his craft as a performer.

“I trained as a chef and did that for a number of years, just doing wee bits and pieces of acting and singing and studying performing arts.

“But I always had the ambition and knew that I would be on the stage performing.

“When you want something so bad and you work hard towards it, dreams do come true.”

Even now, John uses his culinary skills when he can.

“I would never eat bread that is bought in a shop, I would always make my own bread. I make a month or two’s supply and put it in the freezer, I’m away touring so much. I do lots for my mother and father, things like scones.”

With a new album Duets out in May and a single in June, John has a busy year including an Irish country music cruise to Alaska soon.

“I’ve been very lucky for the last 15 years to be performing – not just home here in Ireland, and England and Scotland – but I’ve got to travel the world!”

Luckily John has conquered a fear of flying.

“In the early part of my career I used to love it, but on one flight we had an emergency landing with oxygen masks and for a few years after that I was petrified.

“I had to take sleeping tablets before getting on the plane and I don’t like taking tablets at all.

“But I went to a hypnotherapist in Ireland and he was great. It was probably one of the best things I’ve done in my life, actually!”

John appears in Hooley At Easter with a line-up including Torridon, The Marlettes, Colin McFeat and Jacquie & Ian at the Royal British Legion, Thurso, on Saturday. Tickets £40 are available from the venue on: 01847 893417.

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