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Daniel O'Donnell

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Crooner Daniel O'Donnell was the spiritual descendent of clean-cut, wholesome pop icons like Pat Boone and Andy Williams, enjoying a massive fan base among women of all ages. Born in County Donegal, Ireland, on December 12, 1961, O'Donnell was one of five children. His older sister Margo vaulted to national fame in 1968 when her country-inspired single "Dear God" topped the Irish charts, although her success was tempered by the death of their father that same year. As an adolescent, Daniel regularly appeared with Margo on-stage, and in 1980 he quit school to join her band full-time. Three years later, he self-funded his first recording session, cutting the Johnny McCauley composition "My Donegal Shore." In late 1983, O'Donnell formed his own band, the short-lived Country Fever. Following an appearance at London's Irish Festival in support of his little-noticed debut LP, The Boy from Donegal, he befriended Ritz Records exec Mick Clerkin, who in turn introduced him to future manager Sean Reilly. Under Reilly's supervision, O'Donnell's career began gaining momentum, and via successive albums including I Need You, From the Heart, and Thoughts of Home, he emerged as a budding superstar with virtually no radio airplay or mainstream media attention. Instead he built his fan following the old-fashioned way, touring Irish expat clubs across the U.K., signing myriad autographs after concerts and inviting followers to tea at the Kincasslagh home he shared with his mother. Over time, O'Donnell graduated from clubs to concert halls and arenas, and in 1991, he scored his first Top 40 entry with The Very Best of Daniel O'Donnell, also making his debut appearance on the BBC television mainstay Top of the Pops to perform his smash cover of George Strait's "I Wanna Dance with You." He remained a fixture of the British charts throughout the remainder of the decade, scoring a series of hit LPs and singles highlighted by the 1998 Top Ten smash "Give a Little Love," which earmarked all proceeds to build housing for Romanian orphans; that same year, Love Songs also earned him his first Top Ten album. On Christmas Day 2001, O'Donnell made headlines across Europe when he announced his engagement to businesswoman Majella McLennan; a week later, he was included in the Queen's New Year's Honours list, receiving an honorary MBE for his contributions to the music industry. In 2002, O'Donnell published his autobiography, My Story. O’Donnell released a wealth of albums after publishing his autobiography, most notably 2004’s Jukebox Years and 2005’s Rock and Roll Collection. In 2010, he released his second Christmas-themed album, O' Holy Night: The Christmas Album, which was followed a year later by Moon Over Ireland, an album that saw O’Donnell return to the songs of his homeland. 2012 saw the release of Songs from the Movies (And More), which peaked at number seven in the U.K. album charts. O'Donnell continued his run of releases with A Picture of You (2013), Stand Beside Me (2014), and The Hank Williams Songbook (2015), with the latter becoming his 28th album to consecutively hit the U.K. charts, the first artist to ever do so. That same year he took part in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, although was voted out in week four. At the beginning of 2016, O'Donnell release the 60-track collection The Best of Music and Memories, which took a look back at his career to that point. At the end of the year, he returned with another collection of covers, this time mining the '70s for inspiration. I Have a Dream saw him taking on a selection of ballads and country and pop hits from the time. He returned in 2017 with Back Home Again, a live recording of one of his performances in Kilkenny, which featured duets with friends Mary Duff and Derek Ryan. ~ Jason Ankeny

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