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A New Local Hero Shortlist Of 25 Artists Revealed - Showcase Approaches

Tom Douglas
Tom Douglas

06:19 4 Nov 2021


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The shortlist of 25 artists for the A New Local Hero award has been revealed!

This initiative, alongside Irish Music Month, saw Hot Press join forces with 25 radio stations all over Ireland (including 98fm!) to support Irish music.

Each station sent out a call to action, and chose five artists in each of the 25 areas for the 'long list stage' of A New Local Hero.

So that means 125 artists and bands were in the running in total!

Now, the 25 stations – covering every blade of grass across the country – have revealed their individual selections for the shortlist stage.

So that means there's one from each franchise area that's still in contention for the award.

However, the judging is about to get even more intense as this 25 is pared down to just five!

Those acts are going to play the Academy Dublin on November 18th.

That's where our lovely judges (keep an eye out for that announcement too) will crown the winner of A New Local Hero.

A Brilliant Mix Of Styles

“There is a brilliant mix of genres and styles among the 25 acts,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes said.

“Some of them will already be familiar to music audiences."

"Others are relative newcomers, who have announced themselves powerfully through A New Local Hero."

"All of them are artists of real calibre."

"It will be an extremely difficult task for the judges, to get from 25 artists down to the final five, for our showcase night on November 18th."

"But that is in the nature of a process like this. "

What's The Showcase?

The showcase event on November 18th will be broadcast by all 25 stations, and on the night A New Local Hero will be announced to benefit from a special bursary.

There and then, the act will be launched onto another step in their career level, and will receive:

– €5,000 in cash

– €5,000 worth of gear from XMusic

– The release of a single through the renowned Rubyworks record label.

– A guaranteed 30 plays on all 25 stations, adding up to a minimum of 750 in all

– National exposure via an interview in Hot Press

– A full PR campaign around the release of the single

The Shortlist

98 FM – Chameleon

You might recognise Matthew Harris from his appearance on the hit show Normal People last year.

Now sometimes going by Chameleon as his producer stage name, he has released some great tracks under both monikers. His debut single 'You Know' with Lucy Williams, is a potent statement from one of Ireland's most important rising talents.

Spin 1038 – Leah Moran

Leah Moran is a highly gifted 18-year-old singer-songwriter from Dublin. She has been writing songs since she was very young but has only recently started sharing her music. Her song 'Senses of 17' is impressively topical, aiming to highlight, she says, “All the events and moments that I and so many other teenagers around the world missed out on." Take it away, Leah.

Spin South West – Pierce feat. Sade 

Pierce O'Rahilly is a teenage producer from Limerick. Describing his favourite genre as hip-hop, Pierce has experimented with many different genres so far. His superb collaboration with emerging teenage vocalist Sade – no, not that one! – made him perfect as Spin South West's choice for this list.

Clare FM – Julie Martin

Julie Martin, hailing from Ballyvaughan in Clare, is a brilliant young singer-songwriter. She performed her beautiful song 'Over It', on Clare FM recently, wowing everyone at the station and listeners alike. One thing is clear: Julie's mastery of her craft belies her relative youth. A bright future beckons.

Cork’s 96 – Fintan McKahey

Hailing from West Cork, Fintan McKahey has been releasing his powerful music since 2016. He has been hailed for "incorporating influences of bedroom pop and trip-hop" into his uniquely personal indie style. Fintan's latest single, 'Live Balloons' offers a taste of his burgeoning genius.

Classic Hits – Eva Campbell

Originally from Skerries, and based now in Dublin, Eva Campbell is no stranger to the bright lights. You might recognise her from her appearances on The Voice UK, where Olly Murs was her coach.

Her debut single, 'Echo' produced by Billy Farrell – famous for his work with The Corrs – is a real beauty.

East Coast FM – Aoife Doyle

A singer-songwriter from Bray, Aoife Doyle grew up in a very musical family. Like many of the A New Local Hero shortlist, she sang from a very young age. Nowadays, Aoife has B.A. in jazz performance from Newpark Music Centre in Dublin.

Her recent tune 'Strength to be Strong', showcases her ability to superbly meld jazz, folk and soul into a winning sound.

FM104 – Mia Yermeche

Sometimes going by just her first name “MIA”, Mia Yermeche has been very busy with her music over the past few years. She released her powerful debut single 'Butterflies' in 2020. The Dublin R&B singer subsequently appeared on Virgin Media Television's The Big Deal talent show, wowing their judges. Now, shortlisted for A New Local Hero, she is indisputably right back in the spotlight.

Galway Bay FM – Darragh O’Dea

A brilliant storytelling songsmith, Darragh O’Dea is already planning the release of his debut album Tilly & The Postmaster. Written through the eyes of his grandmother, the likely title track, 'Tilly & the Postmaster’, deals beautifully with the pain of not being able to attend the funerals of your loved ones during the pandemic.

Highland Radio – Amy Meehan

Amy Meehan is a 19-year-old singer-songwriter from Manorcunningham, near Letterkenny in Donegal. She's already made a big splash with her music, winning the 'The 'Talent Northwest Competition' in Derry when she was just 13 years-old. With her star firmly on the rise, A New Local Hero could be her launching pad to stardom.

iRadio – Keith Coleman

Keith Coleman is a gifted young singer-songwriter from Monaghan. Honest, organic and edgy are words that iRadio use to describe Keith’s music. His debut single,  ‘Hangover’, was written in his bedroom. Keith's is hoping to release an EP.

KCLR – Exiles

Exiles are a band from Carlow. They released their debut EP Red Lights back in 2016, taking a break before returning to the fray in 2019. With oodles of studio experience to draw on, Jack O'Flaherty and Darragh O'Connor are brimming with confidence – more mature as musicians, and with a growing appetite for success. The smart money says that their time is coming – soon.

KFM – Jess Young

Influenced by hit-making artists like the Eagles and The Corrs, Jess Young also takes inspiration from the deeply intimate and personal writing styles of Julia Michaels and Ryan Tedder. A superb singer, Jess captured the attention of Platinum-award winning producer Tom Allom (Black Sabbath, Judas Priest). She has since had her music placed on prime television shows worldwide – and is looking to make the next leap forward through A New Local Hero.

Live 95 – Abby Butler

Abby Butler is an intriguing young Singer-Songwriter from Newcastlewest in Co. Limerick. A music graduate of the Irish Academy at the University of Limerick, Amy is ready to set out on her own musical journey. A huge talent in the making, with A New Local Hero, she might just have found the way to hit the fast forward button on her career.

LMFM – Amy Tuite 

Amy Tuite has always had a passion for music and was understandably thrilled when she finally released her very own original song 'Chasing Trouble'.  “When we first heard Amy sing 'Chasing Trouble' we were blown away by her voice," Eamonn Doyle, Content Controller at LMFM Radio said. "The song grew on us more and more with each listen and her live performance was really captivating." Now, Ireland can share in the excitement.

Midlands 103 – First Day Lions

First Day Lions are a brilliantly industrious indie rock band based in Moate, Co. Westmeath. A fine live band, they have gigged extensively and opened for acts such as Aslan and Paddy Casey. Their debut album Time – which they describe as a "thriller from start to finish" – was released in 2019. But they are, in truth, only starting.

MidWest Radio – Con Murphy 

Con Murphy is an acclaimed singer-songwriter from Ballinrobe and is currently based in Aghamore, Co. Mayo. He released his debut EP in 2015. A slow burner, with huge talent, he is currently working towards the release of his debut album. In the meantime, his delicately titled new single 'Saffron & Pink' offers a fine taster for what's to come from a man who might yet put Mayo on the global music map.

Ocean FM – Whatever Suits

Having met in secondary school, the four members of Sligo's Whatever Suits have spent the past six years honing their sound in the pubs and clubs of the northwest, bringing a mixture of blues, rock and funk to their music. An outfit who love gigging, they are now shaping their own superbly accomplished brand of rhythmic, modern rock – and eagerly awaiting the return of live shows.

Radio Kerry – Donal Lucey

Donal Lucey is a twenty-year-old singer-songwriter from Co. Kerry, Ireland. He is studying music full time in the Cork School of Music. His musical frame of reference is diverse: he has been heavily influenced by modern singer-songwriters like Ed Sheeran and Dermot Kennedy; by hip-hop artists Eminem and Jay-Z; and by indie rockers like Bon Iver and The Lumineers. If he can bring it all together, the world will surely swoon.

Radio Nova – Laura Elizabeth Hughes

Laura Elizabeth Hughes has been widely tipped as a singer and songwriter with huge global potential.

She is, as it happens, also wonderfully modest.

"I hope that some of the things I create resonate with some of the people that happen upon me", she says of her music. Laura needn’t worry on that score. Her single 'We, Myself, I' is a genuine beauty.

Red FM – Ruby Ivy

Ruby Ivy is a unique Irish talent, already making waves globally.

Ruby’s love of soul music comes straight from what she heard at home as a child, with influences that include Fugees, Lauryn Hill and Stevie Wonder.

She also cites the likes of Snoh Aalegra, Sinead Harnett and Jorja Smith as sources of inspiration.

Ruby has performed at Wembley Arena and Shepherd’s Bush Empire, alongside the legendary Ronnie Spector of Ronettes fame and JP Cooper.

Shannonside/Northern Sound – The Vibes

The Vibes are an independent six-piece indie/folk/pop outfit from Co.Leitrim, consisting of Leo Logan (Vocals/Guitar), Joanne Logan (Vocals), Martin Raftery (Drums), Gerard Bracken (Bass), Kiev Reynolds (Guitar) and Ruairi Carthy (Banjo/Mandolin).

With influences from Irish Trad to The Beatles, the band have developed a uniquely compelling sound.

Their ambition is to create the kind of catchy songs that everyone can relate to.

What more can you ask for?

South East Radio - Ruben Hester 

26-year-old Reuben Hester grew up in Enniscorthy, leaving school at the age of 16 to focus on his musical career.

He gained international attention when he appeared on BBC One's Little Mix: The Search.

A serious talent, Reuben performed the hugely emotive ‘Sold My Soul', a song he had written in memory of his father Kevin, who passed away at the age of 55, following a drug overdose.

Tipp FM – Jester

From Tipperary town, Jester are unashamedly a proper rock band. And they are aiming to take on the world.

At their best when delivering powerful melodic choruses, they bring a proud blast of true rock 'n’ roll grit to the A New Local Hero list.

It could be enough to sweep the judges off their feet.

WLR FM – Carrie Baxter

A major talent, who can can genre-hop through folk, blues, jazz, Motown and '90s club tracks alike, Carrie Baxter is undoubtedly the real deal.

So in 2021 she did a headline tour of the UK and Ireland.

There she played her first festival shows and released her sophomore EP,  What Now.

Carrie fans say: the sky’s the limit.

Irish Music Month is supported by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland from its Sound & Vision fund and by XL Retail.

Irish Music Month is also supported by MCD Productions, IMRO, RAAP and XMusic.


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