When her brother Gavin died on the 8th October, 2005 in a car crash in Quigley’s Point, Charlene Duffy’s life changed forever, but the determined Buncrana girl did not let the tragedy define her and instead used her brother as inspiration to follow her dreams.
Since then she has auditioned for the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, started college and most significantly released an album for a charity very close to her heart.
A former Crana College student, the 28-year-old, has dedicated her album to local group Buncrana Community Combating Suicide which provide support to young people and the families of the for those bereaved by suicide and people with mental health problems.
“It’s my way of giving something back. The group are the main reason why I did the CD, I just wanted to give my support. They do so much good work, and there is nothing else around Inishowen which solely deals with suicide support and counselling.
“A friend of mine, Rachael, from Buncrana committed suicide in 2008 and her mother Janice has encouraged me throughout to make the CD. I’ve dedicated It Feels Like Home for Rachael and her mum.”
But it was the death of her beloved younger brother that changed Charlene’s life forever.
“Gavin’s death really changed me. Losing him gave me the push I needed to go on and make the album in his honour and make him proud. One of the songs on the album, The Climb, is dedicated to him.
“Making an album is something I’ve always wanted to do, but I’ve never found the right time, I suppose Gavin dying changed that and it made me wake up and make the most of things. I’ve been singing since I was 16 locally around Buncrana and I felt this was my time.”
As well as wowing the crowds locally, Charlene has entered a variety of different singing competitions, locally, nationally and internationally including one on 2fm with the late Gerry Ryan and the internationally acclaimed Britain’s Got Talent.
“I went over to Liverpool for the audition for BGT and now I’m waiting now to see if they are going to call me back within the next few months. I queued for about eight hours then I met a judge and producer from the show and now I am just waiting to see if I get called onto the live shows. I think the audition went well, I normally get nervous, but I was pretty relaxed about it all, so fingers crossed I get the call.”
But with the official launch of the CD in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel, a mere month away, the committed singer is fully concentrating on the road in front of her, and remaining extremely grounded about the future and it’s possibilities.
“I don’t know what the future holds at this stage, but I know I’m lucky because I’ve had so much support from people. My parents especially have been here for me from day one and I want to thank them so much for all their support.”
When she started to record the album just five months ago, Charlene resolved to have the CD in the shops before the Christmas boom for the charity, and with the help of Leo Fitzpatrick from Dean Studios in Derry’s Waterside her dream became a reality.
“I know Leo well, and he really helped me and thanks to that we were able to push the album out before Christmas. Thankfully sales have been going really well so far, actually at one stage I actually ran out of discs! So it seems all the hard work and effort will be worthwhile for the charity.”
Charlene’s CD includes her own unique versions of Lenord Cohen’s Halleluiah, Black Velvet and a wide collection of classics mixed with American country music. The exciting launch night will include a variety of Irish acts from all over the country in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel in Buncrana on Friday 25th February at 9.30pm.
But for those who can’t wait, can buy them in Gerry Gill’s Restaurant and LC Clothing.