About Daniel O'Donnell
Daniel Francis Noel O'Donnell, MBE is an Irish singer, television presenter and philanthropist. After rising to public attention in 1983 he has since become a household name in Ireland and Britain; he has also had considerable success in the US and Australia. In 2012, he became the first artist to have a different album in the British charts every year for 25 consecutive years.
Known for his close relationship with his fanbase, and his charismatic and engaging stage presence, O'Donnell's music has been described as a mix of country and Irish folk, and he has sold over ten million records to date. He is widely considered a "cultural icon" in Ireland, and is often parodied in the media. Affectionately known as "Wee Daniel", O'Donnell is a prominent ambassador for his home county of Donegal.
O'Donnell was born in and brought up in the village of Kincasslagh, in The Rosses district in the west of County Donegal, Ireland. He grew up as the youngest of a Roman Catholic family, with his parents, Julia and Francis O'Donnell, and siblings John , Margaret , Kathleen and James. He has described his upbringing as mostly happy, with the exception of the death of his father after a heart attack when O'Donnell was six years old.
During his school years, O'Donnell considered pursuing a career in banking. Despite this, a career in music was also always a possibility. As a youngster, O'Donnell performed in the local religious choir. In 1980, he went to Galway to pursue business studies, however, he never settled down and by Christmas he was in his sister Margo's band. Margo had already forged a successful career in Ireland.
Not getting enough opportunities to perform solos with the band, in 1983 O'Donnell decided to record his own record. On 9 February 1983, he recorded his first single, Johnny McCauley's "My Donegal Shore", with £1,200 of his own money, selling all the copies himself. Later that year, he formed his own musical group, Country Fever. After the group disbanded, he formed The Grassroots. In 1985, the manager of the Ritz label, Mick Clerkin, saw him perform and introduced him to Sean Reilly, who remains as his manager to this day.
Under the management of Reilly, O'Donnell started to sell concerts out in England on a regular basis. According to O'Donnell, by January 1992, he had hit rock bottom with exhaustion. After a three-month recovery break, he returned to the stage, this time at the Point Theatre, Dublin.
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