Married To Paul
Colour of Eyes
Colour of Hair
|| As time goes by Mary Duff's career seems to go from strength to strength, and as the salutation and success continue to roll in for the genuinely charismatic and warm Irish singer, there seems little sign of the celebrated triumphs slowing down. Quite the opposite in fact, as she is about to enter, what is hoped to be, one of the most exciting phases of her career so far continuing a hugely successful 18 months which has heralded previously unthought-of achievement for the lovely Irish artist.
Not only has Mary recently made a live television appearance in front of a massive 60 million American viewers, resulting in a number 2 on the Billboard World Music Charts, but success has also grown in the UK. Her most recent album, 'The Ultimate Collection', a 'best of' album featuring 40 of Mary's' best loved songs, was not only her first TV-advertised release, but was also her first ever British chart hit, nestling nicely into the UK Top 50. Not bad for a small country girl from Ireland, whose wonderfully emotive, yet quietly powerful voice, was all discovered by accident when she was only twelve years old!
Back then the young Mary had no idea what the future would hold for her. Like today, she was an easy-going Irish girl who left worries and tribulations to the rest of the world. She would often playfully sing round the house, as jolly children often do, unaware of anybody listening or paying attention, simply just enjoying the calming delight that singing brings to the soul. Fortunately for Mary however, this blissfully innocent childhood vocation did not go unnoticed.
Her father, himself a musician and indeed in a band at the time, quite by chance caught the young Mary gleefully humming away and immediately recognised the talent she had. He got his tape-recorder out and invited Mary to sing something. Impressed further he then asked Mary if she would like to sing with him and his band at a local concert. She duly obliged and the music bug was obligatorily caught. The teenage years went by and Mary continued to sing with her father's band at the weekends until she finished school. Upon completion of her education she took an office job with the local council, and it was whilst she was working there that her first major break came. Through a friend Mary was asked if she would like to audition for a rock n'roll band. Back at that time, the early 80's, rock n'roll was exceedingly popular in Ireland, so having the chance to perform it across the land was a fantastic opportunity that she couldn't afford to pass by if her dream of being an entertainer was to come to fruition.
She passed the audition with flying colours, immediately gave up her job at the council, and started to tread the length and breadth of Ireland as the lead singer of Jukebox, covering songs by renowned artists such as Bill Haley, Fats Domino and Chuck Berry. It was a wonderful time for Mary, as she recalls with a smile, 'Jukebox were a very good band. They were probably ahead of their time and the crowds who came to the shows in those days were just fantastic'.
Unfortunately for Mary, as the 80's wore on, so did musical trends and Jukebox were eventually forced to call it a day when disco gradually became ever more popular. However in one of those ironic twists of fate that often happen throughout life, this undeniably bad piece of misfortune turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise, as it led to arguably the most definitive and biggest break of Mary's career.
Mary had read about a talent competition in the Sunday World Irish newspaper and decided to enter. Surprisingly to her, but unsurprisingly to anyone who had heard Mary's enchanting voice previously, she won the competition and was subsequently introduced to Sean Reilly. Sean just happened to be the manager of a certain Irish mega-star called Daniel O'Donnell, who at the time had a vacancy for an official singing partner in his show. Sean put Mary forward for the role, and Daniel immediately realised her potential. They went on their first UK tour together and 15 years later, the rest, as the saying goes, is history. Or at least for that side of her career it is.
As well being Daniel O'Donnell's official singing partner on all of his worldwide tour dates, Mary has also managed to carve out a highly successful solo-career for herself. It seems that just recently this side of her career has really taken off, and it all started with the release of her last studio album 'Just A Country Girl'. As previously stipulated from her time with both Jukebox and Daniel O'Donnell, Mary has often graced wide and varying styles of music; from rock n'roll, to country to traditional Irish country music, whatever genre Mary touches she always gives the same passion and committed performance. Indeed, as Mary says herself as she looks back on a past that has even included performing with Garth Brooks, she has always labelled herself as 'a singer of songs without classification'.
That changed with 'Just A Country Girl'. Rather than picking songs from a wide spectrum of varying musical styles, Mary decided to pick a whole collection of songs from one particular genre of music and base an entire album around that. It had to be something that resonated within Mary, and so it was that the genre picked was Country, and the resulting album, 'Just A Country Girl' went onto be her most successful. That is of course, until 'The Ultimate Collection' came along last year, giving Mary her first ever British chart hit.
And that wasn't the only exciting thing to happen to Mary in 2005. Just at the same time 'The Ultimate Collection' was charting in the UK, Mary was with Daniel in America, completing the US leg of their world tour with a residency at the renowned Tri Lakes Theatre in Branson. The American TV company PBS approached them about the possibility of a live national transmission of one of their concerts. The resulting broadcast was watched by an astounding 60 million American viewers, giving Mary unprecedented exposure and a Number 2 in theBillboard World Music Charts. As Mary says now, 'I can't adequately express the pleasure I get when I walk into a record store in places like Branson and see my album on the shelves. It's just the greatest thrill. And to have someone in America tap you on the shoulder and tell you how that person enjoyed your show is beyond words'.
And so it is that with her new album 'Time After Time' Mary really could be considered to be on the crest of a wave. Using the same approach that proved successful previously, 'Time After Time' is a unique collection of songs based around one particular genre of music. However, whereas last time the genre showcased was country, this time round Mary has chosen to reflect the much loved musical stylings of Nostalgia. And from the almost eye-watering 'As Time Goes By' through to the infectiously catchy 'Dream A Little Dream Of Me', 'Time After Time' sees Mary at her lovingly introspective best.
With, what's seemingly an ever increasing enthusiastic crowd behind her whatever the future holds for Mary is still be seen. But if it evolves as well as the last couple of years; with the charting albums, the worldwide tours and the highly popular television appearances, it would be of little surprise to see the name Mary Duff scaling even greater heights.