Cheryl-Ann pens summer anthem in new pop single ‘Young Forever’
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The record is accompanied by feel-good video shot on a beach in the Rosses.
It could scarcely have been better timed as Ireland bakes in a heatwave and gears up for a summer of festivals. The song is enjoying considerable radio play thanks to its poppy chorus.
The ‘Journal’ caught up with Cheryl-Ann [McEvoy] who will be well-known to music fans from the local pub scene.
"I've been gigging for about 15 years around the town and a wee bit further afield but during COVID-19 gigs were cancelled.
"Everybody in the industry was hit really hard. My fiancé, Becky, my wife now, was working in a shop. We were never as thankful that she had work. I was sitting in the house on my own.
"For a long time I had been kind of going through the motions, doing my gigs, learning a few new songs. Just covers really. I played everywhere in town. The whole of Waterloo Street. Letterkenny as well. All over Donegal. Wee bits and pieces in Belfast but Derry was my main thing. I was in Spain for a month playing just before COVID-19 hit.”
Cheryl-Ann explains how she felt the spark that had ignited her love for music in the first place was in danger of being extinguished as result of the relentless routine of gigging.
“I would have gone to concerts, gone to see people, all the time when I was younger but just before COVID-19 I wasn't doing that because I was working.
"I was starting to fall away a wee bit from the love of music. I was just going through that monotonous routine of doing my gig, sleeping in in the morning because I was exhausted from the night before, and not getting home to two or three or, if I was further away, even later.
"It was just doing that over and over again. So the love of it was kind of going out of it.”
Coronavirus was a disaster for the music industry but it allowed Cheryl-Ann to press a creative reset button.
“Even though COVID-19 has a lot to answer for for everything else it was good for me because I fell back into love with music again.
"During COVID-19 I was stuck in the house on my own so I started building a studio in the spare room. From there I started to write more. I started to refine my writing a wee bit.
"I updated all my stuff and started to find that love for music again. I was writing stuff I was actually happy with. I wasn't just throwing it away like I did for 15 years.”
It was during the COVID-19 period when she released her last single ‘Sixteen’. It was a song born of a traumatic experience after Cheryl-Ann came to the aid of a young woman who was in distress on the riverside.
“I was lifting Becky from work. I went up past the City Hotel and there was a wee girl standing.
"She was about to jump into the water. We all know what Derry is like. So I pulled in and I was holding onto her for a good hour. When I came home the only thing I could do was write a song because it was that overwhelming so I wrote the story into a song. I released that then around May 2021.”
As the pubs opened up the gigs returned. However, she soon found that she had caught the writing-bug and was keen to work on her own material.
"I was getting back into the routine of going to work so I pulled back from gigs and decided to take some time for myself to write - I need to do this if I want to continue with music.”
She recalls having an epiphany while watching a documentary about Lewis Capaldi.
"He was sitting in his studio, which is tiny, and the guys from the record label were asking him to write a happy song - 'Lewis, we need something upbeat from you. Everything you have written is sad'.
"I took that by the horns and ran with it. I decided I needed to write something happy which is my personality anyway. I started writing 'Young Forever' with the goal of writing a happy, summer tune.
"If somewhere down the line a record label says to me, ‘Cheryl-Ann we need happy songs.' I want to be able to prove that I can do it.”
The sunny vibes of ‘Young Forever’ are poised to provide a perfect soundtrack for summer.
And the creative journey continues for Cheryl-Ann with the ambition of working towards a self-penned Extended Play.
"I've another original song nearly ready to go. My plan is to release that. I'm turning 30 in July unfortunately! I want to have the two tracks out before then and work towards a four track EP by the end of the summer.
"I want them all to be summer vibes. I'd love that EP to be where someone can go for their happy place.”
Cheryl-Ann’s music is informed by the classics. Her favourite record is ‘Hell Freezes Over’, a live album by The Eagles while Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks are her biggest influences.
"I got to see them in London for free. I was working in a wee bar in London and there was a couple from Belfast who came in. I asked them what their plans where. They said they were going to see Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks in Hyde Park. I said I had tried to get tickets. He walked out and came back in and handed me two wrist bands.”
Lewis Capaldi and Billie Eilish are contemporary touchstones. For now it’s about charting her own path: “I'm working on my recordings now.”