A County Down teenager is hoping he has taken his first steps to musical stardom by releasing his first single.
James Boyd (18) from Donaghmore, between Rathfriland and Newry, is currently studying for an agricultural degree in England but has his heart set on making his mark in music.
His single ‘The Banks of the Roses’ was released on Valentines Day and has already created a stir on social media.
For James the whole experience has been exciting.
He explained: “The single - The Banks of the Roses - is a song I heard at a concert. I really liked it and just thought I could take it and put my own spin on it, a bit of two-step with a nice beat.
“I wanted to do a cover of the song and I’m delighted how it turned out - I hope everyone will enjoy it.
“From recording the song to it being ready for release on iTunes has been really exciting,” he added.
A first year student at Harper Adams, James has his feet firmly on the ground as he focuses on the day-to-day demands of his degree, a BSc in Agriculture and Animal Science.
However, his dream would be to make it in music.
“I just love singing and I always really have,” he said.
“I really enjoy singing country and gospel music and have really enjoyed performing.”
The former pupil of Rathfriland High and Dromore High has been performing locally for a number of years.
In addition to singing he has been influenced by the jiving scene which has been flourishing in recent years.
James was quick to point out that his family had played a vital role in supporting and encouraging him in his music.
“I’m fortunate that I can rely on great support from my mum, Claire, and dad, Colin, and all my family,” he said. “If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am.
“My dad plays the guitar and has accompanied me many times when I’m singing at weddings and other events.”
In fact, you could say the Boyd household is packed with musical talent.
Not only does James sing and his dad play guitar but his sister Emma plays the violin and brother Scott is learning the play the bagpipes.
The man behind James’ debut single is Gerard Dornan, of Country Harmony fame.
“Gerard is the man behind everything,” said James. “He has produced the single and is who I recorded it with at Hillside Recording Studio. He’s been a great help.”
James’ musical tastes have been heavily influenced by artists both locally and across the Atlantic.
“For me, I really love country music. I love listening to the likes of Johnny Cash, Randy Travis and Merle Haggard. But I also love the likes of Lisa McHugh, Nathan Carter and Derek Ryan. In addition to that I have been influenced by the music of The Dubliners.
“These are people that I love listening to and it is from them that I have taken inspiration,” he added.
Since placing news of his single on his Facebook page, James says he has been delighted, if a bit overwhelmed, by the response.
And that is perfectly understandable as his social media post was viewed over 18,500 times in just over a day!
“The response I have received from people has been amazing - I can’t really believe it,” he said.
“I hope the interest keeps going. The song is available for download on iTunes and in the coming weeks should be able to be requested on radio stations.”
It seems a long way from Annaclone and Magherally Young Farmers’ Club and First Rathfriland Presbyterian Church to a potential musical career but James is certainly enjoying the journey so far.
He said: “I owe a big thank you to a number of people. Gerard (Dornan) of course and Warren Smyth also. Warren has been a great help to me and has put me on stage in quite a few different places.”
So what does the future hold for James?
Well for now its all about keeping his head in the books at university, but there is some exciting news in the pipeline - a second single and a CD are on the horizon!
“I recorded two singles but only one has been released so far. The second should be released soon and then hopefully both will be available on a CD,” he said.
James wasn’t giving anything away about what the song might be but it is sure to be one to look out for.