SINGER, SONGWRITER, DJ, and broadcaster, Marc Roberts grew up listening to American country classics and British and Irish pop in his native Crossmolina, County Mayo.
Born Sean Hegarty, he was heavily influenced by John Denver, Dan Fogelberg, Carole King, and James Taylor. He got his big break when he represented Ireland in the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Mysterious Woman’, finishing a very credible second behind Katrina and The Waves.
Since the late 1990s Roberts has released four studio albums, made songwriting trips to Nashville, toured and recorded with Daniel O’Donnell, and currently presents a popular radio show on Galway Bay FM.
He has also collaborated with Jimmy MacCarthy, Mick Hanly, and Charlie McGettigan and his current album The Promise brings many of the above elements together to great effect.
As part of the promotion for The Promise, Marc will play the Town Hall Theatre on Saturday October 2 at 8pm. Joining him on stage will be composer Gerard Fahy (Lord of the Dance ), fiddle virtuoso Mairin Fahy (Riverdance ), and Chris Kelly (Reeltime ).
“The plan is to do some tracks off the new album and some Jimmy MacCarthy songs like ‘Bright Blue Rose’ and ‘The Contender’,” Marc tells me over an afternoon coffee. “There’ll also be a bit of Dan Fogelberg and loads of John Denver.”
The title track to Marc’s latest album is about the Irish who went to America but lost their way and spent their lives in bars reminiscing about home. It was co-written with Darren Holden of The High Kings and has become a big favourite with Roberts’ audience.
“Darren and I go back a long way,” says Marc. “He was in the Eurosong final in Dublin in ’97 when I was in it. We were neck and neck at one stage and then I went on to win the right to represent Ireland in the competition.
“We were both on the same circuit for many years and were both managed by Louis Walsh and we became great buddies. Darren went off and did a lot of hugely successful Broadway musicals and I was around the world touring my own show and we sort of lost contact for a couple of years.
“Then about two or three years ago he came back to Ireland and he was telling me about his work with The High Kings. He suggested we get together and write a few songs and out of that came ‘The Promise’ and we’ve had a hugely positive response to it.”
One of the most successful collaborations Marc has had in recent years has been with Daniel O’Donnell.
“Daniel has been great to me and always mentions me during his shows,” Roberts says. “We’ve probably about an album and a half written together at this stage and that’s on sale worldwide. One of the songs we wrote together, ‘Crush On You’, entered the UK charts at No 21 and it was in there between The Killers and Scissors Sisters! I’ve been on tour with Daniel a couple of times and to see 5/6,000 people singing a song I wrote is an enormous thrill for me.”
The brief foray into the British charts may become more permanent as Marc is due to start writing with the composer of ‘I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’ and ‘The One And Only’ - Nick Kershaw.
“Nick and I plan to do some writing together and I can’t wait for that to happen,” says Marc. “I remember the first night he appeared on Top of the Pops I was in secondary school in Mayo and all the next day I was singing ‘Wouldn’t It Be Good’. We all thought he was the coolest pop writer ever and now to actually know him and to have the chance to work with him is mind-blowing.”
Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie