Donegal star, age 10, shines bright in Nashville
BY SUE DOHERTY
Donegal's newest country music sensation, 10-year-old Simon Donegan, has just returned from a triumphant performance in Nashville.
Simon, who has been described as "Ireland's next Daniel O'Donnell" was invited to perform for millions of listeners across the US on the Midnight Jamboree radio show.
Despite only starting to sing within the last two years, Simon, who goes by the professional name Simon Peters, has already built up a glittering career. He's performed and recorded with the likes of Miranda Lambert and Kenny Chesney. Earlier this year, he shared the stage in Letterkenny with country music legend George Hamilton and it was he who invited Simon to Nashville.
He made such a big impression that he was invited to come back again next year.
"I was so surprised to be invited once, let alone twice. George Hamilton sent me a letter which I got when I got home asking me to come back again. Just to work with big names such as Kenny Chesney was a dream come true. They said they were impressed with me and it is the perfect end to such a great year."
Simon is also an accomplished songwriter, who has recorded two albums. He first sang one of his own songs at a family gathering. "I was at my uncle's wedding when Eamon McCann asked me to sing," he explains."I sang my song and he told me I should record it."
But don't think all this success, which includes singing on the Late Late Toy Show, is going to his head.
Simon's only taken a professional name for one very simple reason. "There already is another Simon Donegan in country music," he laughs.
And his mother Tammy is making sure he stays firmly grounded as well.
"My mam will want me to finish school and I am going to do that, but I will keep on writing new tracks and I will keep on recording over the next few years, and then who knows what will happen? But this is what I really want to do," he said.
Besides, his friends and schoolmates are quick enough to put things in perspective. ""They tell me I'm a good singer, but don't like the music, they like pop.
"But I love it. My daddy (also Simon) listens to it all the time and that's where I learned it all."
Simon's new CD, ‘Living the Dream', features the title song, which he wrote himself, and a duet with John Hogan.
He's also appeared on ‘Hot County' and Sky TV. You can follow his progress on his Facebook page.