Country music star Lisa McHugh reveals how Garth Brooks complimented her singing
She had a smash hit performance at the Electric Picnic festival and picked up American country superstar Garth Brooks as one of her fans.
Singer Lisa McHugh tells how her life has changed dramatically in just a few years, during which she quit Ireland’s country dancing scene where she was one of the top attractions with her own band.
Stunning Lisa, who is now concentrating on the concert circuit as a country-pop singer and songwriter, also married and became a first-time mum.
Along the way she had a smash hit performance at the Electric Picnic festival and picked up American country superstar Garth Brooks as one of her fans.
Set to tour Ireland next month, Lisa (34), who wed long-time love Nathan Khan last June, tells the Sunday World that they’re both besotted with their 14-month-old son, Milo.
“It’s the best thing, but it’s a shock too,” Lisa says of motherhood.
“It’s such a whirlwind. I’m currently on day seven of having sleepless nights, getting maybe three, four, five hours and being up in the night.
“Whenever that happens it’s just exhausting, but they don’t know any different. It’s not like they are deliberately trying to keep you up at night.
“And then when you wake up and you see the wee smile in the morning you just forget about it all. It’s been a rollercoaster, but the best one.
“Nathan is an amazing dad. He just absolutely dotes over Milo, so it’s great to have that support. He’s very hands on as well.
“It’s very much team work. It comes with a lot of juggling because Nathan works full-time as well.
“For me, it’s just a case of trying to squeeze in meetings and getting things done, getting content shot or songs recorded when Milo is napping.
“But, thankfully, I have the support of my mum and my mother-in-law, so I’m lucky.”
Glasgow-born of Irish parents and now living in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, Lisa built up a huge fanbase in Ireland playing dances and concerts with her own band for a decade before going off the road with her band in 2019.
“I had a ball and I absolutely loved it, I would never say otherwise,” she says.
“But it was tough going as well. It’s a hard scene to be in and to continuously stay in. I was just constantly on the go, living out of a suitcase doing gigs.
“A lot of people don’t realise how hard it is when you are on the road and constantly trying to pay a band.
“That’s a lot of pressure every single week on the artists who have to make sure that, not alone are their own rents or mortgages paid, there are six others that are dependent on them as well.
“Ireland is a very small place to continuously do that every week. It was great fun trying to achieve that, but now I don’t want to be out every weekend busting myself to make sure everyone’s bills are paid.
“Life is too short and I have my own responsibilities now that I have a family.
“While it has been incredibly good to me and I have many great memories, eventually it came to the point where I felt like I was on this hamster wheel. I didn’t have enough time to fulfil myself creatively, to sit down, write music and release my own songs.
“So, I consciously made a decision to take a break and come back with my own music and show another side of me that people hadn’t seen before.
“I did that in 2019 and then Covid happened. I’ve been releasing singles since then. They’re my own original songs, which thankfully have gone down incredibly well.
“I’ve just been so eager to get back on stage to perform the songs, so I’m really excited about the new tour.I’ll be performing all the hits as well as the new songs. I’m still very much a country artist at heart. I have a country voice, so no matter what I sing or put my voice on it’s going to sound country.”
Last year, Lisa became the first country artist to perform at the Electric Picnic festival.
“I wasn’t at all sure that anyone would turn up, but the tent was absolutely rammed,” she laughs. “I was absolutely buzzin’. I couldn’t believe it.
“It just shows that, given the opportunity, people will come and enjoy country music. Hopefully it’s the first of many.”
To cap her year, Lisa also enjoyed the seal of approval from the king of country Garth Brooks, who spotted her online video in which she sang his hit, The River, as her baby, Milo, chirped in the background.
“Oh my gosh, what a beautiful human being, beautiful voice…beautiful baby,” Garth commented on his channel.
Lisa, who had seen Garth performing at Croke Park with her family, says she was “in shock” when she watched his reaction to her singing.
“At first I thought it was a video that somebody had put together as a joke, but it actually was Garth watching me singing at home with Milo on the couch. And his comments were so lovely,” she adds.
Lisa McHugh’s new single, I Quit, is out now.
She plays Armagh’s Market Place Theatre (April 13), Belfast’s Empire (April 13), Derry’s Nerve Centre (April 14), Killarney’s INEC (April 18), Dublin’s Whelan’s (April 19), Cork’s Cyprus Avenue (April 22) and Limerick’s Dolan’s (April 23).
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