Singer puts money where her mouth is

Song star: Queenstown singing legend Margaret O'Hanlon

Talented Queenstown musician Margaret O’Hanlon says she was taunted into putting out her first album.

O’Hanlon, who’s releasing 11 original songs, formerly directed five Songstars shows, in which artists performed song covers in front of local audiences, who then judged them.

After pulling the plug after the 2015 show – “it was just too hard financially” – she told musician friend Mark Wilson: “Maybe, if we’re not doing Songstars, we could record my songs.

“Mark burst out laughing, as he does, so tactfully.

“He said, ‘you’ve been saying that for 25 years, you’re never going to do that’.

“Being an Irish person – well, American, of Irish blood – when somebody says that, I’m like, ‘right, we’ll f…ing do it’.

“So I got my little portfolio of songs out and chose the ones I really love.”

The effervescent 55-year-old says one song dating from when she was 19 and still living in New York even made the cut.

“I always had in mind that if I did do a recording, I didn’t want to do one that was heavily produced.”

Early last year she booked out the Queenstown Performing Arts Centre for three days.

With Wilson on piano, ex-local Luke Belcher on bass and Dunedin drummer Marcel Rodeka accom-panying her on vocals, local Paul Inger, of The Recording Room, laid down the tracks.

“That’s been the basis of it,” O’Hanlon says.

Other instruments like accordion and organ, both also played by Wilson, cello, trumpet and saxophone, played by her husband Nigel Hirst, were added.

“These are the cream-of-the-crop musicians – to get that calibre of person to take an interest, it’s extremely flattering.”

O’Hanlon says she parked the project while she helped Hirst’s successful battle with cancer.

She expects the album – currently being mastered in New York – to be out on her Whirlwind Productions NZ website in about a month.

“If you want it, it’s yours.”

She’d never intended to charge for it: “There is no money in selling your music as a recording.”

She calls the album – entitled, after one of the songs, Nothing To Cry About– an eclectic mix.

“My influences are jazz, girl-group pop and Celtic.”

Some of the songs, she says, were inspired by “moving away from New York and frustrations dealing with people”.

“The last song that I wrote was frustration with dealing with addicts.”

O’Hanlon, meanwhile, says she’s booked the Queenstown Memorial Centre in August for her next self-penned musical show, a comedy.