The next great thing

Meadbh McGinley
Meadbh McGinley

Listeners rang in both during and after last Friday’s show to tell Gerry Anderson she was the best guest he had ever had on.

The presenter himself describes her as a genius – “the only one I’ve ever met”. As a child, she was asked to play an etude by Chopin and corrected it because she thought her version sounded better.

She has wowed tutors at the Royal Irish Academy, Vienna and Prague with her prodigious piano-playing. She’s been composing since she was seven years old, writes scores for orchestras and has performed on the Late Late Show. And she’s currently in London working with some “very influential” people, who are grooming her for superstardom.

And Derry singer-songwriter Meadbh McGinley is still only 17 years old...

Speaking this week after the dust had settled, Anderson confided: “She looks like a little girl who’d be looking for a ticket for Jedward but instead is deeply gifted, unspoilt and unassuming - and deeply gifted out of nowhere with no tradition of music in her family.

“If ever there was anybody who embodies the message we’re trying to get across during City of Culture Year, it’s her. She 17 and looks 13 - a genuine genius.

“I hope we can find a big showcase for her next year in the city, either on her own or supporting someone very big.”

McGinley played several songs on the Anderson Show, including a Snow Patrol song, a Chopin piece, a Johnny Cash number and two of her own – the latter of which she wrote when she was eight and is breathtaking.

“There are big things in store for you,” Anderson told her. “I’m sure you’re going to play a prominent part in the City of Culture celebrations here.”

McGinley has written both classical and modern pieces. But, although she could easily fill concert halls across the globe if she wished, she is unlikely to pursue the classical route.

She explained: “[Classical music] it’s something I really, really enjoy. I’ve already done performances in Vienna and the Czech Republic. I loved it – and still have such a love for it. But I enjoy playing my own music more.”

Another BBC presenter raving about City of Culture is Radio One’s Chris Moyles. He told his listeners last week that he was really hoping to get back over here again in 2013. Moyles, of course, was one of the hosts of The One Big Weekend, when it was held in Derry in 2004.