People in Focus: Galbally’s LAUREN McCRORY living the dream and reaching for the stars!
We have enjoyed featuring a vast array of terrific musical talent here at Tyrone Life in 2016 and as our recent musical review of the year showed, there is no question that County Tyrone is up there with the best of them.
As we reach 2017, we bring our latest in the series of People in Focus Features here at Tyrone Life and once again portray why the musical talent bandwagon keeps rolling on.
Galbally’s Lauren McCrory is the latest O’Neill County contestant to take her chance on the popular TG4 series, Glór Tíre, a show which has seen a great deal of Tyrone singers do extremely well, while she has performed on stage at a number of top class Musicals in recent times to appreciative audiences all over.
Tyrone Life caught up with Lauren to bring the latest in our series, with one of the most exciting young talents in the business…
Q&A, People in Focus profile with Lauren McCrory
Tell us about your singing, when you started, your development and favourite earliest memories…
There has always been music in my house, my parents (Laurence and Nicola) are brilliant singers so they always encouraged me to sing at a feis, a competition or even standing in front of the fireplace for any visitor that would come into the house, which I hated but as I grew older I realized that it helped boost my confidence and gave me a wealth of experience that has allowed me to be where I am today.
I love really all genres of music but I suppose I am more known for singing country music. I suppose I could say the reason behind this is because when I was 7 years of age I went to Nashville, Tennessee, to the line dancing world championships with a group of line dancers who were competing. Whilst I was over there we visited all the tourist attractions from Graceland and the country music hall of fame.
We also went to the famous Grand Ole Opry where I sang “Down to the river to Pray” while my Daddy was playing Porter Wagners guitar so for me that was a huge moment in my life as still to this day I can remember looking at the rows of seats, the seating gallery and the stain Glass windows and thinking ‘I want to sing here properly one day’. So from this I decided that I needed to work hard and do everything that I could to have a successful career.
I entered different competitions which allowed me to express my love for country music. In 2012 I was the winner of “Radio Stars search for a country star” which gave me the opportunity to sing alongside the famous Nathan Carter and I gained a lot of work from this, singing at different concerts, etc…
A few years went by and I focused on my school studies and then took a year out to focus on my music and entered a solely country music based competition in the Birds Nest, Bundoran, and again I went on to win the competition from where I recorded my debut single “Wrong Night”. The exposure that I received from winning that competition was amazing. I got the opportunity to perform at different TV Show awards nights such as the ‘Hot Country’ and ‘Irelands country TV’ and this helped me gain a lot of contacts within the business to get my name out there more in the country music industry.
From this I have recorded another single “RedNeck Woman” and have another single “My Irish Love” coming out in the new year which I have written myself, so at the minute everything is fitting into place nicely and I hope that it will keep going in that direction.
As well as the country music I was heavily involved with drama and musical theatre from a young age also, so throughout my younger years I achieved various awards and achievements leading me to joining different theatre groups, such as the Bardic and Craic Theatre, where I have performed in shows such as Rock of Ages, Wicked and Calamity Jane.
You are currently a contestant on the hugely popular TG4 Show, Glór Tire. Tell us about how you came to be on the show and what this entails…
I have always been interested in watching the show every year and supporting the local talent that has been on it from the Tyrone area so I was waiting until I was the right age until I could apply and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. To apply you had to submit a video of you singing alongside with a little bit of information about yourself and why you wanted to be on the show, so I sent in my music video from my latest single “RedNeck Woman” and was just hoping for the best.
I then got an email saying that my application was accepted and was through to the audition process to where the 9 mentors take a look at each of the videos and pick who they would like to mentor. I was told that this process may take up to two weeks so for them two weeks I was constantly checking my emails, always making sure I had reception on my phone incase I ever got a phone call but 3-4 weeks went by and I didn’t hear anything so I just presumed that I hadn’t got through.
Needless to say when I found out I got accepted I was delighted. I had just started university and it was freshers week so myself and a few friends were just sitting in a bar and I got this email from “Glor Tire” saying that they had tried to phone me but couldn’t get through. I had to ring them and was told by the producer of the show that Barry Kirwan had chosen me to be his contestant on the 2017 series. I was so grateful that Barry had seen something in me and gave me a chance so, as you can imagine, the celebrations started and lasted well into the night.
About 2 weeks ago the 9 contestants travelled to Galway and we pre-recorded 11 Programmes which begin on the Wednesday 4th January 2017 and run until the 22nd March 2017, to where the live shows then begin. You can see me on the first show on 4th January, which is an introduction to myself, and again on 1st March where Barry and myself perform together. There is then a recap show on 15th March.
Voting lines open on the first night of the show and to vote for me you can text “GLOR8” to 60999 or call on 09016566108.
Tell us a bit about your school years, any big moments that stand out for you and who would have had a big influence on you in those years…
I began my education at Paddington Playgroup, Galbally, and then moved to St. Joseph’s P.S. Throughout my years at primary school I was finding out who I was and what I wanted to do and the older I got, the more definite in what I wanted to achieve.
One thing that I remember from primary school was that in P3 I told every one I wanted to be a singer, p5 I was undecided and wanted to be a singer and an actor and then when I reached p7 I discovered that you can do both. I was then telling people I wanted to be an actress in Musical Theatre and from saying that I never turned back.
I was involved in the choir and all the Christmas plays and am thoroughly thankful to each and everyone at St Joseph’s because no matter what I did they always supported me and even to this day are always behind me.
I moved to St Ciaran’s College, Ballygawley, in 2008 and as the saying goes ‘school is the best years of your life’ and my days at St Ciaran’s have been so far. I was placed in a great class where everyone got on so well with each other and strong friendships were made to last. In all my music endeavours, inside or out of school, I was always supported by each and every person, from friends to staff members, so I always felt like I was doing my school proud.
A major highlight from my years spent at St Ciaran’s was the fact that I got to play the lead role of “Tracy Turnblad” when they put on the hit Musical “Hairspray”. I was fourth year when they announced they were doing it but auditions were only open to the senior school, so I begged my music teachers to let me audition and thankfully they allowed me to. I worked with my music teacher Fergal McMullan on my audition song (I can hear the bells) and then he asked the director of the show, Gerry Cunnigham, to come down and listen to me. The next week, while I was in my GCSE music class, Fergal and Oonagh McGirr (head of music) told me that they were willing to offer me the part of Tracy if I would accept. Obviously my answer was going to be yes. I was thrilled and delighted that I had the title role and I was the youngest in the cast so for me that was a huge achievement.
Rehearsals began and there were nights we weren’t leaving school until 11 at night, but it was all worth it as the cast was like a little family that just bonded over the course of 3 months. Needless to say the when the show was over we didn’t really know what to do with our spare time. After my GCSE’s I decided that I would travel to Belfast and study a BTEC in performing arts acting in Belfast Metropolitan College. This was due to the fact that St. Ciaran’s were not offering drama, and no other college was offering a professional course like Belfast. I knew it would be difficult travelling for 2 years up and down the M1, but I did it and succeeded.
It really opened my eyes about entering a professional industry, be it in acting or singing, because at the end of the day it is still the Arts industry so it allowed me to gain a very mature approach to the Stage. After this I took a year out to focus on my music and to gain a bit of life experience and then, back in September, I moved to Belfast and began studying a 3 year course in Language and Linguistics with Counseling Studies at University of Ulster, Jordanstown.
I am part of the Bardic Theatre in Donaghmore and am delighted to say that throughout my duration there I have had a main role in every show. I first began with Stephaine Falloon, who ran a stage school called ‘showstoppers’ and the first production we did was the ‘Wizard of Oz’ where I was Dorothy.
The following year we did ‘Wicked’ and I played Elphaba, otherwise know as the Green Witch and as we progressed into the Bardic Theatre shows, I maintained this role as we did a musical called ‘Broadway to Bardic’ which was a collaboration of various different musicals and wicked was one of them.
As well as this I also had the role of Velma from Chicago to play. Throughout my years of being there I have played roles in the Commitments, Dirty Dancing, Regina in ‘Rock of Ages’ and in this year’s production, I take on the lead role of Nataile in ‘All Shook Up’, which begins on the 3 Febuary 2017.
As well as the Bardic, I am also involved with the ‘River Tall Community Theatre Group’, which was created by Gerry Cunningham, who wrote and Directed a fantastic period musical “Blood Upon The Rose”. This musical is based on the story of the Easter Rising, which took place in 1916, and tells the love story of Grace Gifford and Joseph Plunkett, and I’m delighted and very proud to say that I play the role of Grace Gifford. This show began in the Burnavon, Cookstown, and due to high demand we have had to take it to the Patrician Hall, Carrickmore, Armagh’s Market Place Theatre and the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
Tyrone Life – My thoughts on…
Tell us a bit about your community/village where you grew up…
I come from Galbally, which is a very small part of Tyrone, in the hills, but obviously I’m very proud to call it home. It’s a great place and well known for its facilities with regards to the Community Centre and Football Pitch.
Tell us about some of the big characters in your community/village when you were growing up and any memories that jump out when talking about them?
I’m pretty sure that anyone from the Galbally area, and maybe even further afield, will know the name Gerard Donaghy when I mention it. He is a man who could walk the length and breadth of the country and is definitely a character in his own way. He does the lotto around Galbally and know matter what event is held in Galbally – be it a fundraiser, coffee morning or even a wake – you know for sure that Gerard will be there with all hands on deck.
Many big names are emerging on the country music scene in Ireland in recent times again. Tell us about your experience so far in the industry and why you think that there has been such an explosion of popularity…
I’ve a lot of experience when it comes to the Country Music industry as I’ve been exposed to it from such a young age. Having said that there’s not a day goes by that I experience something different, be it with the industry itself, promoting myself or even finding the right outfit to wear, I’m always learning.
I have performed a lot and people who follow country music would know my name, which I’m delighted about. To have people out there who thoroughly enjoy my music and follow me really allows me to appreciate that I have been blessed with a gift and that I can’t waste it.
In the years that I was growing up, country music was seen as ‘not cool’ or ‘boring’ and when I would sing country, people would always ask me why I was singing it or why do I like it. Because I was young and insecure I stopped singing country as I was embarrassed by what people were thinking of me and then Nathan Carter happened. Country music suddenly became the new best thing and I was delighted that I could start singing country again. People were then supporting me in whatever I did, placing confidence in me to keep reaching for my goal.
It is hard to break into the industry as it has become very popular, meaning there are a lot of people who could be seen as your competition. But that is natural enough in every situation so you have to just deal with it, work hard and focus on what you want so you can better yourself, instead of bringing not only yourself but others down.
Social Life – My thoughts on…
Tell us about what things you enjoy best about the ‘weekend’ and favourite things to do?
Most weekends I love coming home from University and chilling out doing absolutely nothing but unfortunately I can’t do that for all of the weekend. Every Saturday I teach kids singing in a drama school called ‘Stagestars’, run by Lauren Hamill. It is what I call my work (as it brings in the wages) but it is the best work I that I could have as I feel like one of the kids meaning it doesn’t feel like I’m working at all. Sunday is a day for rehearsals in my life, so my weekends are pretty much packed with everything that I love doing.
Tell us about the best events that stand out for you and why?
The first time I went over to London I seen my first ‘West End Musical’, which was ‘Wicked’, and I was completely blown away. It was the first time that I had ever seen something which drove me to tears just because of the atmosphere that was in the theatre at the time. It was then I realised how passionate I was about performing.
Another event that was very memorable was the time that WestEnd and Eastenders star, John Partridge, was invited over to the Bardic theatre to see Broadway to Bardic and he told me that he was really impressed by me and that I have such a bright future ahead of me. Needless to say I was completely star-struck and motivated to keep reaching for my goal no matter what obstacles I would face.
Finally the last memorable moment for me has to be winning the ‘Sounds like Country’ competition in 2015. It definitely has been the highlight of my career so far due to everything that has come with it – Performing at various events and releasing singles that are played on many radio/TV stations. I’m thoroughly grateful for every opportunity it gave me and representing them as winner for 2015 was a complete honour.
3 Funniest people you know…
- My Daddy (Laurence McCrory)
- Emily Mc Kenna
- Seanen Cummings
Use one word for each of the above you think best describes these 3 people…
- Daddy – Eejit
- Emily – Diva
- Seanen – Cultchie
Name 2 people who you’ve always thought were ‘spitting image of each other’ (ideally one from Tyrone):
She’ll kill me for this but one of my closest friends Lelia Gormely (Galbally) and the actress Anna Kendrick
My life & favourites…
Female Singers: Reba Mc Entrie
Male Singers: Charles Esten
Celebrities: Ellen DeGeneres, Micheal McEntyre
Band: Celtic Thunder
Why have you left the one – Lisa Mc Hugh
Lady Antebellum – Love I found in you
Celtic Thunder – Irelands call
TV Show(s): Nashville, Prison break
Movie(s): Mean Girls, Mary Poppins, Best little Whorehouse in Texas
Food: McCoy’s Flame Grilled steak crisps
Item of clothing: A warm scarf
Fashion or Lifestyle Website/Blog/Facebook Page: BuzzFeed
Pub: Tomneys in Moy or McAleers, Dungannon
Nightclub: Sally’s in Omagh or Time Cookstown
Concert Venue: I wouldn’t go to that may concerts but when I do it’s always in the SSE arena and it’s always a pretty good atmosphere so I’d have to say there.
Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? Why?
I prefer Instagram – because I love photos so obviously in relation to this I also love snapchat
Favourite Websites to check out?
Biggest influences on your life:
My parents. I know that may sound cliché but I always feel like I have to make them feel proud in whatever I do and, after all the opportunities they have given me, I feel I always try and do it to the best of my ability just to make them happy.