The 21-year-old from Ballyshannon just launched her first album in September and is now in the spotlight on the talent show that seeks to find Ireland’s next big country and western star. She was also musical director of this year’s panto and is the lead in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
Farrah Bogle started to play fiddle but didn’t begin to sing solo in public until she was 15. Now, just six years later, it’s her full-time career.
A native of Ballyshannon, from Behey in Cashelard, Farrah was born into a family with a strong musical tradition. Her late father Phonsie was a legendary performer, from his days playing with Cormac McCready and Brian McEniff at the Holyrood Hotel to his sessions in Josie’s and Patsy’s bars. Orginally from Roscor, Belleek, he also played on Fermanagh’s u21 intercounty GAA team.
Farrah’s mum Carol Bowring is from Kinlough and Farrah has five siblings: Brendan (39) is a lorry driver; Siobhan (38) works at the Abbey Hotel; Donna (36) is with the HSE in Sligo; Johnny (32) and Blain (19) are currently working in construction in England.
She attended Creevy NS and Coláiste Cholmcille and, apart from music, her other big passion was riding horses. “I learned in Bundoran and we kept horses ourselves for a while too,” Farrah recalls.
Since she left school, though, music has taken up pretty much all of her time.
Her first music lessons were at the age of six, when she started studying fiddle with Seamus Sweeney. She also took up piano soon after and, at school, learned how to play the recorder from Angela Currid. This led on to her joining Cor Craoibhaigh, which Angela leads.
Over the years, Farrah kept playing. She did her classical grades in violin and piano with the VEC (now ETB) and won a couple of Ulster titles in both instruments.
She also joined in at her father’s traditional sessions, playing regularly at them from the age of eleven and took part in Ballyshannon Musical Society productions, including Annie. At school, she performed in High School Musical. Since then, she also took the lead in BMS’s Annie Get Your Gun and is also the lead in this year’s offering, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
It was her parents’ encouragement, she says, that prompted her to start singing in public. “I was kind of shy about the idea of singing in public but my parents, especially my father, knew I could do it and kept urging me on. I started out singing every Saturday night with him and, after a couple of months, it got easier.”
So much so, that she soon decided to strike out on her own. “As soon as I could drive, I started gigging myself. I played with a few bands, then went solo. At first I found it a lot scarier, being up there on your own, having the whole pressure of the gig on you. But the more you do it, the easier it gets. People get to know you and come back to see you, so you get to know your audience.
“I knew from straight up that this was what I wanted to do full-time. I was quickly advised to do an album and it took me about a year. It was recorded in Ballymena.
“One of the most difficult aspects was picking which songs to include. I was going to have 12 songs but ended up with eleven, because the week that my father was meant to lay down his vocals for our duet was the week he went into hospital. That was very, very hard. He was absolutely insistent, though, that I release the album, despite him being so ill.
“The album was launched at the Great Northern in Bundoran on August 29 and he passed away on September 2. He was so sick, it was if he was holding on for that.
“We had a mini-launch at The Bridge End Bar a week after his funeral, as part of Ballyshannon Harvest Fair, and that was also very, very hard. He used to play at the pub next door, often the same night that I’d be playing at The Bridge End. I’d joke with him that the pub would be quiet because everyone would be coming to see me and he’d joke the same way with me.”
Raymond Stewart of Sharp Music in Dungannon was so impressed by the album, he passed a copy along to Mike Denver’s management team. They liked it so much that Mike said he wanted to mentor her on this season’s Glór Tíre.
“I was delighted to be asked: it’s such a great opportunity,” Farrah said. “It all happened so quickly, I was asked one week and the next week I was down in Galway recording.
“We were in rehearsals for the panto as well and I had to take a week off from that to film. Glór Tíre came up and filmed us at panto rehearsals. That bit was broadcast on Wednesday and I was delighted that the children got to see themselves on tv.”
Farrah’s next appearance on the show will be on February 26, when she’ll sing a duet with her mentor Mike Denver. “It’s pre-recorded and, when the show goes out, I’ll be on stage in the Abbey with the musical, so I won’t get to see it until later!,” she laughs
“Mike is a true gentleman,” Farrah adds, “and, of course, he’s got the Ballyshannon connection. His mother Roisín is from the town. She’s a sister of Jim Likely, who had the plumbing business. It’s unbelievable to be working with Mike, he’s one of the very top performers in Ireland and he’s very generous in terms of sharing his knowledge.”
Farrah watched last Wednesday’s episode at home with the family. “The phones and Facebook went mental and the feedback was so positive. I’m the only peformer from Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Fermanagh area, so I hope everyone really gets behind me and votes. I’ll do my very best for the North West.”
Vote for Farrah: Voting is open 24/7. You can vote as often as you like. Ring 1513 415 107, or text GLOR7 to 53307 (from ni: tel 0901 6566 107 or text GLOR7 to 60999).
Follow Farrah on www.facebook.com/farrah.bogle