In 1996 Eimear Quinn won the Eurovision Song Contest, in Oslo with the Irish entry ‘The Voice’. In the ten years since winning the Eurovision; Eimear has toured extensively, is on the verge of releasing a new album and has moved to live on the outskirts of Carrickmacross! We talked to her about her experiences over the last ten years.
How did you get involved in singing?
I have been singing since I was 4-5, I always loved singing and my parents encouraged me to sing. My parents had good voices, although no one in my family sang professionally before I did. When I was 15 I went for singing lessons and I kept these up until I was 23.
Did you go into music fulltime after leaving school?
After I left school I studied Environmental Resource Management in the DIT. I later went back and did a degree in music in Maynooth and whilst I was there I was singing with the group Anuna.
How did you become involved in the Irish entry to the Eurovision?
I was singing with Anuna in Christ Church, where I was heard by Brendan Graham, he approached me afterwards to sing his Eurovision entry in the National Song Contest. Brendan had composed a song which had been entered in the National Song Contest and had reached the Irish final.
The song was called ‘The Voice’. Dervish had originally sang the song but when it was short listed I was approached and asked to sing it for the final competition. I was delighted and surprised to be asked to sing the song, as I had always been a classical singer. We rehearsed and worked on the song and I remember the final was in the Point, which was quite a big venue, bigger than most venues I had sung in before, I had taken part in Riverdance in London, but I was still quite nervous.
What happened after you won the National Song Contest?
We won the National Song Contest and were very surprised and delighted. We were then through to the Eurovision final in Oslo in the summer. The venue, in Oslo, the Spectrum held 9000 people, not to talk about the 150 million who would be watching the event, it was quite daunting!
For the week previous to the final we had rehearsals every day in Oslo. On the day of the final we had a full dress rehearsal (which can be used on the night, if anything happens during the live transmission). I was very nervous and on top of that we had been tipped by the bookies to be in the top five. As it happened we were run away winners and absolutely trilled.
Did you have to do any follow-up work with the Eurovision after you won it?
In the follow-up year all I had to do was appear at the next Eurovision final and present the trophy to the next winner.
What happened to your career after winning the Eurovision?
I was offered a number of follow-up record deals that year, but chose not take them up. In 1998 I signed with Decca Records, and worked with Paul Brennan from Clannad on a number of songs and consequently an album “Through the Lens of a Tear”, which incidentally is take from a Patrick Kavanagh poem. I also managed to go back to Maynooth and finish my degree. I had taken time out after the second year of my degree to take part in the Eurovision and consequently had not finished it.
By the way, who made the dress you wore at the Eurovision and do you still have it?
The dress was made by Mary Grant, and I still have it and wore it to a recent charity event in the Olympia for the Tsunami victims.
What are you currently working on?
For the last number of years I have been involved in a number of projects, I frequently travel abroad for concerts as well as giving concerts in Ireland. I will have a new album coming out in April – which will be a combination of my work from the last 10 years. I currently have a publishing deal with Sir George Martin’s company and I work with Sarah Class writing and composing. It’s a full week, I try to compose two days of the week and I also teach three days.
Do you hold concerts locally in Carrickmacross?
I sang in St Finbarr’s in Carrick during Christmas 2004 which I would love to make in to an annual event. And I am scheduled to appear in the Kavanagh Centre on the 22th of April 06.
How do you find living in Carrickmacross?
I’ve lived outside Carrickmacross for 5 years now, and I have to say that the people have always been genuinely very warm and friendly. We renovated part of our house which gave me a great opportunity to get to know people and the hardware shops!! It’s very accessible to Dublin and the airport. I draw inspiration for some of my compositions from the surrounding countryside.
Thank you for your time and good luck with the new album.
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