People in Focus: Malachi Cush on Music, Christmas and that “Big House with Prince William”
Fifteen years ago a young singer from Donaghmore in County Tyrone made a first and most decisive excursion outside of Ireland for the very first time and what a journey it proved to be.
Malachi Cush entered the “then equivalent” of the X-Factor or Voice and stamped his name in the World of Music following “Fame Academy 2002”.
A nephew of the Queen of Country, Philomena Begley, the gifted singer came 5th overall in the show and after a tour of the UK with other finalists, was given a solo recording contract with Mercury. In March 2003, ‘”Keep Me A Secret” sung by Ainslie Henderson, a song that he co-wrote on the show with Henderson and Sinéad Quinn, charted at no 5 in the UK. His debut album Malachi, (released on the UMTV label) consisting mainly of covers and songs he had sung on the show, came out in March 2003, and was the first solo album to be released from any of the Fame Academy contestants. It reached 17 in the UK charts and sales topped 100,000, for which he received a silver disc and the first single from this album, the self-penned “Just Say You Love Me”, reached number 1 in Thailand.
Malachi, who has also made his mark in the Radio and TV presenting arenas, has been very much back on stage in recent times and in particular has performed in some recent sell-out Concerts featuring Karl McGuckin with a Christmas theme.
The latest of these is coming this Thursday night as Malachi performs alongside Karl McGuckin, Andrea Begley and a host of local guest artists, including the Ward Sisters, at St. Mary’s Chapel, Loughmacrory in what is a sensational evening of Music called “O Holy Night, a Celebration of Christmas”.
Ahead of the Festive season, Tyrone Life caught up with the brilliant Donaghmore singer for the latest in our People in Focus series and we had great entertainment with some super stories in there, including performing with Shania Twain and a funny meet-up with Prince William…
People in Focus Profile with
Malachi Cush, Donaghmore
It is 15 years since you first appeared on TV Screens on BBC’s The Fame Academy, can you tell us you ended up on that show and how it changed your life?
When I first found out I was on |Fame Academy I thought my family were ‘taking the hand out of me’. My father had entered me and it was such a massive thing and a shock to the system as back then was very different than now. While nowadays you have drama schools, Music schools, Comholtas and so many options for young people getting into music, that was not the case even 15 years ago.
So to get onto Fame Academy was just incredible as it brought all the training with it including song-writing, music, singing and the fact it was on TV brought all the lifestyle, media and interviewing tips and of course the profile with it too. And that doesn’t even take into account the ‘not insignificant’ recording contract which I received from it. It was undoubtedly a ‘life changer’ as I went in as a complete unknown and came out with a considerable profile to the extent I was having people coming up to me walking down the street in London.
Tell us about your Music and how it has evolved over the years since then?
I feel like I have lived a charmed life in terms of my music and career. My music is ultimately my number 1 love and there is no better feeling in the world than performing on stage to an appreciative audience where you get the chance to touch some 200/300 people in a very unique way – you are literally touching the senses. My music has really changed and developed quite a bit over the years but I would ultimately deem myself a contemporary folk singer first and foremost but also love traditional Irish Music.
I’m comfortable in my own skin now when it comes to my music and being a contemporary folk artist I really love ‘Religious Music’. I suppose it was singing in Churches where I really started out and I unashamedly can say I have a very deep sense of faith, which is why I find those occasions in which I am performing this music now so overwhelming and magical.
I have also very much enjoyed a journey of being involved in TV and Radio presenting and TV production as well as a significant involvement in the media over the years and must say have enjoyed every moment and derived so much satisfaction from all my experiences in those fields of the industry.
Tell us about your upcoming shows and plans for the future…
Well we perform in Cookstown on Wednesday 20th December and in St. Mary’s Church in Loughmacrory on Thursday 21st December which is next on the Calendar for me in terms of performances.
“Within the reality of Life’s hustle and bustle, it is always good to take a moment to relax and find the true meaning of Christmas and bring you back to your youth. Christmas is such a special time and this Concert, with the amazing lighting and sound, will bring you right into the season of Christmas and will provide an indelible memory which you will take away and talk about for some time”.
Tell us about your new album…
The album “Songs for the Soul” is right back to my roots and an album of songs which I grew up with my Catholic tradition. The album includes some of my favourites such as ´Voice of an Angel´ written by Fr. Liam Lawton and ´Morning has Broken´ and there is a song on there called “Blessed be the One” which I recorded with Johnny Cash’ sister, Joanne Cash. It is a restful album in many ways with the music which inspired me to become who I am today.
In terms of looking ahead I’m now working on a new album which combines new material, including songs written with friends in the states, which I am very excited about. In the near future I will also be travelling to Tour the US with Phil Coulter in January, which I am very excited about and have made an annual tour.
Male Singers: Andrea Bocelli, Van Morrison, Shane Magowan
Female Singers: Sinead O’Connor, Enya, Shania Twain
In terms of favourite Celebrity moment I would have to refer to Shania Twain and getting to sing with her 13 years ago. As well as a fantastic singer, she really is exceptional as a person and her story really does resonate with you – from singing in a small cafe to being found by a promoter and performing to millions of people around the world, but never losing her sense of family.
One really ‘Funny Celebrity Moment’ which stands out though is looking back to that time shortly after I came out of Fame Academy. I was invited over to London Irish Rugby Club to sing the National Anthem at one of their games. After it was over I was invited back to the after-party and went with players to a Famous Club in London where the Club Chairman got us into the VIP area. It was a renowned club for celebrities and some of the royalty hanging out and I remember looking across the bar and seeing security with Prince William and Harry. Anyhow, later in the evening I went to the loo and a voice said to me “Your that Guy who lives in the Big House ion Fame Academy”. I turned around and it was Prince William and I responded “You live in a right big house yourself” to which he had a great laugh! I enjoyed a few pints in their company after that.
‘O Holy Night’ – absolutely love both performing and listening to this.
I’m also a big fan of the older Irish songs, like ‘Danny Boy’, and I love George Michael’s “I can’t make you love me if you dont”
Favourite movie would be ‘The Green Mile’ and ‘Coronation Street’ would be my guilty pleasure in terms of TV Shows. Really have got into ‘Scandal’ and ‘The Good Wife’ on Netflix too.
My great Aunt Kathleen always used to say “Food glorious Food, Give me it All” – and that rings true for me as I love all food. I also like cooking and as an outright favourite I would have to say I could never go past ‘Steak’.
McAleers in Dungannon would be a stand-out as I love going there to hear all the latest craic and news and it always proves an interesting evening. I also like ‘The Gables’ in Carland.
The Best Venue I have ever performed in would have to be Armagh Cathedral while to go and watch a concert it would be ‘The ulster Hall’ in Belfast – I love the setting of it with all its old magical antiquity.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat?
I would have to say Facebook as I know it and pick up a great deal from it in terms of whats happening. I have been trying to get into the others and plan to do so with Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat in the new year.
Major influences on your music…
A man called Don Hedman who produced my first album had a profound influence on my career and in terms of my musical development I would say Phil Coulter who has helped and pushed me farther than I ever believed it was possible for me to go.
I just love the simplicity, truth and straightforwardness of this quote which I believe everyone should embrace…