That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with Aishling Rafferty, a country music artist and student. She discusses her rural roots, her link in with agriculture through her partner, her father’s ultimately passing and her future musical aspirations.
“I am from a beautiful little scenic area in North Tipperary called Knockshegowna, a very rural place, so you could say I grew up in the sticks.
There are plenty of farms, and it is quite an agricultural place. We have the renowned Gurteen Agricultural College just two minutes down the road also, so you could say that it is quite an agricultural place.
Growing up with a farm across the road, my younger brother and I tended to stray across the road onto our lovely neighbour’s farm to see what was going on with the animals and tractors.
My other half is a calf dealer, so when I am not performing on stage or studying for my degree, I am most often found beside the ring in the mart, feeding calves in the yard, or in the passenger seat of a livestock lorry delivering calves all over the country.
Growing up, my dad always had the local radio stations, and I would hear the likes of Louise Morrissey and Philomena Begley singing.
I had a huge love for it – something I am sure was not very common for a 10-year-old girl.
I cannot put an exact age on as to when I wanted to become a country music singer. It is all I have ever wanted to do for as long as I can remember.
Louise Morrissey is my biggest inspiration as she is from the ‘Premier County’ like myself. I admire her voice; you could not compare her to anyone else. She has her own unique and distinctive voice, which is something I strive for.
My grandfather on my mother’s side and granduncles on both sides were involved in music. On my mother’s side, it was a band that played all sorts of music and tunes, and my dad’s side was strictly Irish lilting and sean nós singing.
My earliest memory of music is sitting around in my pyjamas in front of the open fire with my teaching me the words of ‘How Much is That Doggie in the Window?’.
Losing my father last year was very difficult as he got me started in the industry and travelled to each gig with me.
There is a huge void there that will never be filled, but I am very grateful to have had his support and for getting me this far. I feel him with me every time I open my mouth to sing.
I really love Irish country, so mostly that, but I do enjoy throwing in some ballads such as Grace and The Town I Loved So Well.
I have released two albums to date, and I will be releasing my third album this year in memory of my late father, John.
He was a huge support to me, so I look forward to releasing this in his memory. All my music can be found on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.
I have performed at several venues, and some stand-out ones include the INEC in Killarney and the University Concert Hall in Limerick.
You will find me performing in pubs, social dancing in hotels and halls, weddings, and concerts.
The Covid-19 pandemic offered me a chance to find my voice and style of performance before I got out on the road full-time.
I love how welcoming all the artists are to younger artists like myself trying to get going in the industry.
In terms of the songs, I love how each song tells a story that you know at least one person in the audience will resonate with.
Glór Tíre really gave me the boost to the next stage of my career that I needed. It was a fantastic experience from start to finish.
I cannot thank everyone who voted for me enough and my fantastic mentor, Mike Denver, for everything he has done for me.
On the music scene, other experienced artists welcomed me with open arms, and we were always there to give me advice and help when needed.
Alongside my musical career, I am training to be a music teacher at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.
I would love to put my own band on the road if the opportunity ever arises, but I am very happy with how my career is progressing at the moment.
My journey to date has been a whirlwind, and I love every second of it all.
I am really excited for what the future holds for me, and I am blessed to have such great family, friends and fans helping me make my dreams come true.”
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