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'wild love' Singer Jack O'Rourke on supressing his sexuality, seeking acceptance and why he loves Patsy Kline

Jack, a teacher, was 25 before he finally revealed his sexuality to his loved ones.

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Jack O'Rourke  Picture: Miki Barlok

Jack O'Rourke Picture: Miki Barlok

Jack O'Rourke Picture: Miki Barlok

Rising star Jack O'Rourke bounced into the limelight in 2015 when his song, Silence, was adopted by Amnesty International as the soundtrack for the marriage equality referendum.

Since then, phenomenal singer-songwriter O'Rourke from Ovens, Co Cork, has been making his mark across Ireland and Britain with his powerful personal songs.

His new single, Patsy Cline, is ­released this weekend - and Jack describes it as a song about "wild love".

Going back to Silence, O'Rourke says it was the first song he'd written in which he was totally open about the experience of being young and gay.

The singer revealed that he got a huge response to that particular song. "I think it was because it's the story of a gay child…they found it very disarming," Jack said.

"The lyrics are quite explicit in terms of dealing with sexuality, but it could be about any type of suppression and I think that's why it spoke to a lot of people just seeking acceptance."

Now in his 30s, O'Rourke, a teacher, was 25 before he finally revealed his sexuality to his loved ones.

"I suppressed my sexuality for a long time," he said when Silence was released.

"I was in self-imposed exile. I never even experimented…I went out with a lot of girls."

After years of personal turmoil, Jack finally found the courage to come out to his nearest and dearest - and was relieved to discover that there was total acceptance.

"It was anticlimactic because I'd built it up so much in my head," he said.

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"My family and friends completely accepted me. I came to realise that most naturally minded people don't really have an issue with it."

He'd been working on his deeply personal songs for years before taking the plunge and letting them out into the world.

Jack's debut album, Dreamcatcher, established the songwriter and singer as an exceptional talent and brought fans out in force to experience his critically acclaimed live shows.

Prior to the pandemic, Jack's appeal as a live performer saw him command stages everywhere from the Electric Picnic and ­Indiependence festivals to the iconic London Half Moon… and TV appearances such as RTÉ's Other Voices and the Late Late Show.

Even the Covid lockdowns failed to put the brakes on the Corkman's drive to press on with his life in music, as he stayed in touch with fans by performing online.

He also wrote and recorded a new batch of songs for his next album, Wild Place.

O'Rourke played Other Voices and rang in 2021 as part of Home at Guinness Store House with Conor O'Brien, Denise Chaila, Loah and The Mary Wallopers. He performed with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, as a soloist with Jess Kav and Moncrieff, in a tribute to Aretha Franklin, which was aired this month.

His first single of 2021 was Opera On The Top Floor, and it proved to be another smash hit. Now comes Patsy Cline.

Jack says: "Patsy Cline is about a wild love - all that's exciting and beautiful - the wild place where that exists, even in a memory.

"Patsy was an extraordinary singer and she could have sung anything, jazz or R'n'B and her phrasing travels beyond country music.

"To me, she's the precursor to Janis Joplin or even Bjork or Phoebe Bridgers. Her voice is evocative and honeyed, but that raw quality is always there.

"There's a primal, reckless quality to her voice and I suppose in a great love, you're being thrown in directions you never imagined, like the journey Patsy Cline brings you on in her delivery."

Opera on the Top Floor and Patsy Cline offer a taste of Jack's new album, Wild Place. They set the tone for what he says will be his most reflective collection of songs to date.

- JACK O'Rourke's new single, Patsy Cline, is out now.

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Jack O'Rourke

Jack O'Rourke

Jack O'Rourke

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