- 04 Nov 21
“The calibre of the artists is brilliant,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes says, “so the judges have a tough job on their hands!"
The shortlist of twenty-five artists for the A New Local Hero award has been revealed!
A New Local Hero is a feature of Irish Music Month – a month-long programming initiative for the month of October, which saw Hot Press join forces with 25 radio stations all over Ireland, who are members of the IBI (Independent Broadcasters of Ireland), to support Irish music and Irish musicians. Irish Music Month is supported by the BAI through its Sound & Vision scheme, as well as by XL Retail Group, MCD Productions, IMRO, RAAP and XMusic.
Following a call to action from each of the stations, five artists were selected in all 25 franchise areas for the ‘longlist stage’ of A New Local Hero – with 125 artists and bands in total in the running.
Now, the 25 stations – covering every blade of grass across the country – have revealed their individual selections for the shortlist stage. One from each franchise area is still in contention for the A New Local Hero award.
And what a list the stations have delivered!
In real terms, every one of the 125 original nominees was a winner. It is a feature of Irish Music Month that all of these long-listed artists were paid for their endeavours when they were invited to play on their local stations – as well as gaining significant extra exposure and recognition and getting a shot at the ultimate A New Local Hero award.
Now, the judging will get even more intense as the 25 is reduced to five – who will play the Academy, in Dublin, on November 18th – on a showcase night, at which the recipient of the A New Local Hero 2021 award will be revealed.
“There is a brilliant mix of genres and styles among the 25 acts,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes said. “Some of them will already be familiar to music audiences. Others are relative newcomers, who have announced themselves powerfully through A New Local Hero. All of them are artists of real calibre. It will be an extremely difficult task for the judges, to get from 25 artists down to the final five, for our showcase night on November 18th. But that is in the nature of a process like this.
"The important thing is that we now know that the artists and bands selected locally are brilliant,” he added. “Which means that an artist of outstanding calibre will be the recipient of the A New Local Hero award 2021. It is a really exciting prospect.”
"It is testament to the power and reach of local radio that we have gathered such a wealth of talent for this element of Irish Music Month,” John Purcell, Chair of IBI said. "Stations were overwhelmed by the response to the call for A New Local Hero, and the finalists from each station demonstrate the quality of Irish Music that stations are delighted to play and promote. We wish all the judges well with this incredibly difficult task and are looking forward to the final reveal of the top five for the national event on November 18th" .
XL Retail Group has been proud to sponsor this fabulous initiative with Paul Bealin, Sales Director, commenting, “When we heard about Irish Music Month, we immediately saw the fit. XL and our independent retailers are all about serving and supporting local communities – which is what is so attractive about Irish Music Month and we have a shortlist that showcases the talented musicians we have in Ireland. I want to wish all the ‘Local Heroes’ the best of luck.”
The showcase event on November 18th will be broadcast subsequently by all 25 stations, and on the night A New Local Hero will be announced to benefit from a special bursary. There and then, the act will be launched onto another level in their career level, and will receive:
– €5,000 in cash
– €5,000 worth of gear from XMusic
– The release of a single through the renowned Rubyworks record label.
– A guaranteed 30 plays on all 25 stations, adding up to a minimum of 750 in all
– National exposure via an interview in Hot Press
– A full PR campaign around the release of the single
So, without further ado, here’s the full list of 25 artists – and, strictly in alphabetical order, the radio stations that have chosen them...
A NEW LOCAL HERO – SHORTLIST OF 25 ACTS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY
98 FM – Chameleon
You might recognise Matthew Harris from his appearance on the hit show Normal People last year.
Now sometimes going by Chameleon as his producer stage name, he has released some great tracks under both monikers.
His debut single 'You Know' with Lucy Williams, is a potent statement from one of Ireland's most important rising talents.
Clare FM – Julie Martin
Julie Martin, hailing from Ballyvaughan in Clare, is a brilliant young singer-songwriter.
She performed her beautiful song 'Over it', on Clare FM recently, wowing everyone at the station and listeners alike.
One thing is clear: Julie's mastery of her craft belies her relative youth.A bright future beckons.
Cork’s 96 – Fintan McKahey
Hailing from West Cork, Fintan McKahey has been releasing his powerful music since 2016.
He has been hailed for "incorporating influences of bedroom pop and trip-hop" into his uniquely personal indie style.
Fintan's latest single, 'Live Balloons' offers a taste of his burgeoning genius.
Classic Hits – Eva Campbell
Originally from Skerries, and based now in Dublin, Eva Campbell is no stranger to the bright lights.
You might recognise her from her appearances on The Voice UK where Olly Murs was her coach.
Her debut single, 'Echo' produced by Billy Farrell – famous for his work with The Corrs – is a real beauty.
East Coast FM – Aoife Doyle
A singer-songwriter from Bray, Aoife Doyle grew up in a very musical family. Like many of the A New Local Hero shortlist, she sang from a very young age.
Nowadays, Aoife has B.A. in jazz performance from Newpark Music Centre in Dublin.
Her recent tune 'Strength to be Strong', showcases her ability to superbly meld jazz, folk and soul into a winning sound.
FM104 – Mia Yermeche
Sometimes going by just her first name “MIA”, Mia Yermeche has been very busy with her music over the past few years.
She released her powerful debut single 'Butterflies' in 2020. The Dublin R&B singer subsequently appeared on Virgin Media Television's The Big Deal talent show, wowing their judges.
Now, shortlisted for A New Local Hero, she is indisputably right back in the spotlight...
Galway Bay FM – Darragh O’Dea
A brilliant storytelling songsmith, Darragh O’Dea is already planning the release of his debut album Tilly & The Postmaster.
Written through the eyes of his grandmother, 'Tilly & the Postmaster' deals beautifully with the pain of not being able to attend funerals of your loved ones during the pandemic.
Highland Radio – Amy Meehan
Amy Meehan is a 19-year-old singer-songwriter from Manorcunningham, near Letterkenny in Donegal.
She's already made a big splash with her music, winning the 'The 'Talent Northwest Competition' in Derry when she was just 13 years-old.
With her star firmly on the rise, A New Local Hero could be her launching pad to stardom.
iRadio – Keith Coleman
Keith Coleman is a gifted young singer-songwriter from Monaghan.
Honest, organic and edgy are words that iRadio use to describe Keith’s music.
His debut single, ‘Hangover’, was written in his bedroom. Keith's is hoping to release an EP. "And with your help, move out of my mam’s house," he jokes.
KCLR – Exiles
Exiles are a band from Carlow. They released their debut EP Red Lights back in 2016, before taking a break, returning to the fray in 2019.
With oodles of studio expertise to draw on, Jack O'Flaherty and Darragh O'Connor are brimming with confidence – more mature as musicians, and with a growing appetite for success.
The smart money says that their time is coming – soon...
KFM – Jess Young
Influenced by hit-making artists like the Eagles and The Corrs, Jess Young also takes inspiration from the deeply intimate and personal writing styles of Julia Michaels and Ryan Tedder.
A superb singer, Jess captured the attention of Platinum-award winning producer Tom Allom (Black Sabbath, Judas Priest). She has since had her music placed on prime television shows worldwide – and is looking to make the next leap forward through A New Local Hero..
Live 95 – Abby Butler
Abby Butler is an intriguing young Singer-Songwriter from Newcastlewest in Co. Limerick.
A music graduate of the Irish Academy at the University of Limerick, Amy is ready to set out on her own musical journey. A huge talent in the making, with A New Local Hero, she might just have found the way to hit the fast forward button on her career.
LMFM – Amy Tuite
Amy Tuite has always had a passion for music and was understandably thrilled when she finally released her very own original song 'Chasing Trouble'.
"When we first heard Amy sing 'Chasing Trouble' we were blown away by her voice," Eamonn Doyle, Content Controller at LMFM Radio said. "The song grew on us more and more with each listen and her live performance was really captivating." Now, the world can share in the excitement.
Midlands 103 – First Day Lions
First Day Lions are a brilliantly industrious indie rock band based in Moate, Co. Westmeath A fine live band, they have gigged extensively and opened for acts such as Aslan and Paddy Casey.
Their debut album Time – which they describe as a "thriller from start to finish" – was released in 2019. But they are, in truth, only starting...
Midwest – Con Murphy
Con Murphy is a singer-songwriter from Ballinrobe and is currently based in Aghamore, Co. Mayo.
He released his debut EP in 2015. A slow burner, with huge talent, he is currently working towards the release of his debut album.
In the meantime, his delicately titled new single 'Saffron & Pink' offers a fine taster for what's to come from a man who might yet put Mayo on the global music map.
Ocean FM – Whatever Suits
Having met in secondary school, the four members of Sligo's Whatever Suits have spent the past 6 years honing their sound in the pubs and clubs of the northwest, bringing a mixture of blues, rock and funk to their music.
An outfit who love gigging, they are now shaping their own superbly accomplished brand of rhythmic, modern rock – and eagerly awaiting the return of live shows.
Radio Kerry – Donal Lucey
Donal Lucey is a twenty-year-old singer-songwriter from Co. Kerry, Ireland. He is studying music full time in the Cork School of Music.
His musical frame of reference is diverse: he has been heavily influenced by modern singer-songwriters like Ed Sheeran and Dermot Kennedy; by hip-hop artists Eminem and Jay-Z; and by indie rockers like Bon Iver and The Lumineers. If he can bring it all together, the world will surely swoon...
Radio Nova – Laura Elizabeth Hughes
Laura Elizabeth Hughes has been widely tipped as a singer and songwriter with huge global potential.
She is, as it happens, also wonderfully modest. "I hope that some of things I create resonate with some of the people that happen upon me," she says of her music.
Laura needn’t worry on that score. Her single 'We, Myself, I' is a genuine beauty.
Red FM – Ruby Ivy
Ruby Ivy is a unique Irish talent, already making waves globally.
Ruby’s love of soul music comes straight from what she heard at home as a child, with influences that include Fugees, Lauryn Hill, and Stevie Wonder. She also cites the likes of Snoh Aalegra, Sinead Harnett and Jorja Smith as sources of inspiration.
She has performed at Wembley Arena and Shepherd’s Bush Empire including alongside the legendary Ronnie Spector of Ronettes fame and JP Cooper.
Shannonside/Northern Sound – The Vibes
The Vibes are an independent six-piece indie/folk/pop outfit from Co.Leitrim, consisting of Leo Logan (Vocals/Guitar), Joanne Logan (Vocals), Martin Raftery (Drums), Gerard Bracken (Bass), Kiev Reynolds (Guitar) and Ruairi Carthy (Banjo/Mandolin).
With influences from Irish Trad to The Beatles, the band have developed a uniquely compelling sound. Their ambition is to create the kind of catchy songs that everyone can relate to. What more can you ask for?
Spin 1038 – Leah Moran
Leah Moran and is a highly gifted 18-year-old singer-songwriter from Dublin.
She has been writing songs since she was very young but has only recently started sharing her music.
Her song 'Senses of 17' is impressively topical, aiming to highlight, she says, "all the events and moments that I and so many other teenagers around the world missed out on." Take it away, Leah...
Spin South West – Pierce feat. Sade
Pierce O'Rahilly is a teenage producer from Limerick.
Describing his favourite genre as hip-hop, Pierce has experimented with many different genres so far.
His superb collaboration with emerging teenage vocalist Sade – no, not that one! – made him perfect as Spin South West's choice for this list.
South East Radio - Ruben Hester
25-year-old Reuben Hester grew up in Enniscorthy, leaving school at the age of 16 to focus on his musical career.
He gained international attention when he appeared on BBC One's Little Mix: The Search. A serious talent, Reuben performed the hugely emotive ‘Sold My Soul', a song he had written in memory of his father Kevin, who passed away at the age of 55, following a drug overdose.
Tipp FM – Jester
From Tipperary town, Jester are unashamedly a proper rock band. And they are looking to take on the world.
At their best when delivering powerful melodic choruses, they bring a proud blast of true rock 'n' roll grit to the A New Local Hero list. It could be enough to sweep the judges off their feet...
WLR FM – Carrie Baxter
Hailing from Waterford City, Carrie Baxter is one of the most thrilling voices in the Irish music scene right now.
A major talent, who can can genre-hop through folk, blues, jazz, Motown and '90s club tracks alike, Carrie Baxter is undoubtedly the real deal. In 2021 she did a headline tour of the UK and Ireland, played her first festival shows and released her sophomore EP, What Now. To which we might add: 'Where to next?' Carrie fans say: the sky's the limit.
Listen to all of these great artists below!
Irish Music Month is supported by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland from its Sound & Vision fund and by XL Retail, offering a great deal more at your local store. Irish Music Month is also supported by MCD Productions, IMRO, RAAP and XMusic.
For more information, listen to your favourite independent radio station, read Hot Press – and check out hotpress.com
Keep an eye on our socials for more announcements regarding the A New Local Hero award – and more related to Irish Music Month!
Irish Music Month is funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland from the television license fee.