A Portadown singer-songwriter, who took a year’s break from her job as a radiographer to pursue her music career, has been making waves in Nashville.
Ciara O’Neill, who lives at Derryvore Lane, has visited the American ‘Music City’ twice this year, where her music has attracted the interest of publishers and fellow musicians.
And she is also planning another trip in March, as well as looking forward to the launch of her debut album, ‘The Ebony Trail’, after scooping a coveted Arts Council awards.
Ciara is one of 21 artists from Northern Ireland to win the Artists Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) award, worth up to £5,000.
Nashville came beckoning after Ciara performed at the Belfast Nashville Songwriter’s Festival in March this year, having taken her career break from Musgrave Park Hospital just a month earlier.
It was during that performance - when Ciara was ironically standing in for another performer - that the visiting Nashville-based songwriters and publishers heard her and were impressed with her voice and songwriting ability.
They included the managers of the famous Bluebird Cafe, who discovered Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift, and a songwriter who had won a Grammy award.
Ciara, who released her CD ‘Primroses’ last year, said, “I had already booked my plane fair to Nashville and they asked me if I wanted to work with them when I got over there.
“Originally I was going to go for three weeks but it went so well that I decided to extend it for three months.”
Ciara spent the time co-writing, performing live in the Bluebird Cafe and other venues and having meetings with publishers.
After spending the summer at home writing she songs, she returned to Nashville again last month.
She explained, “I am hoping for a publishing deal next year. At the moment I’m working closely with the publishing company, who are pitching my songs to American artists and also to American TV/film, and setting up co-writes with their other published songwriters who have all had massive success.
“Nashville is one of the best places I have ever visited and the people there are so lovely.”
Ciara, who describes her music as folk with a melancholic edge, takes her inspiration from literature, poetry and the quiet, rural setting of Derryvore Lane.
Although she will be returning to her ‘day job’, Ciara intends to keep plugging away at her music. “It’s a very long process, and it’s not going to happen overnight,” she said.
“There are so many people doing it and you just have to hone your craft and take time to figure out what type of artist you are and what it is you want to say.”
Ciara’s music can be viewed on her website www.ciaraoneillmusic.com