It’s been a massive year for local girl, Emma Horan - from raking up over 2 million video views online to performing onstage in Dublin.
The Lurgan College student might have been studying for GCSE exams this year, but she has also been in increasingly high demand as a singer-songwriter.
“It’s actually been so mad,” Emma shares.
“It’s crazy how something so big can come from one small music video.”
The ‘one small music video’ she refers to is a cover of a track called ‘Little Lion Man’, written and made famous by English rock band, Mumford and Sons. After uploading it - and a number of her own ‘mash-ups’ - to YouTube back in early 2014, the number of viewers began to rocket, and it soon became clear that people enjoyed hearing her sing as much as she enjoyed actually singing. Her version of the Mumford song went on to rank number 3 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart, setting her alongside the likes of Ed Sheeran and Tracy Chapman, yet she remains brilliantly modest about it all.
“My friends always knew I loved to sing, so it wasn’t a big shock to them when I began posting videos of different songs online,” the sixteen year old says.
“They’re all so supportive of me, as are my teachers - and it’s been great to have that.”
Recently, Emma has been juggling her musical passion with school studies, but she hasn’t allowed them to hold her back too much over the past few months:
“GCSEs have been pretty awful - I had eighteen or nineteen exams! It was really hard juggling music and school, but I’m not really worried about results - music is my passion and it’s all I really want to do.”
Since December, she has been on tour with X Factor star, Janet Devlin; performed as part of the ‘MAC Music Tour’ in Dublin’s Button Factory; and, just last week, taken a more local stage by storm at Portadown’s Got Talent.
“I think performing in the Button Factory was probably my most memorable moment over the past year,” the star explains.
“The crowd was amazing and they were singing along with me! The whole thing came about after promoters had noticed my YouTube videos and the covers I’d posted online - which is crazy!”
Emma is equally committed to developing her skills as a songwriter, and has been working closely with the Northern Ireland-based organisation, Generator NI. Having established itself as a music business support programme, Generator NI sets out to invest deeply in the creative industries: “I’ve been working with the Generator NI team, which has been brilliant. A few members of the team are a similar age to me, and they’re backing me in everything I do.”
The Generator NI Talent Development Programme, which also supports Aghagallon-born musician Ciaran Lavery, offers professional guidance and mentoring to ‘excepional artists’, with the aim of building a strong and innovative network around them.
With two months of Summer ahead of her, Emma plans to spend the holidays with pen and paper permanently in hand.
“I just want to get writing these songs and putting them out there!” Emma exclaims.
“I’m going to be working with Tre Sheppard over the next few months. He’s a producer from Coleraine, who’s written a lot of well-known worship songs. I also want to release an EP really soon - hopefully by the end of August.”
That EP will likely be highly anticipated by the thousands of fans which Emma has quickly collected over this past year. However, it’s highly doubtful that she’ll spend the entire Summer in the studio - and there are already a few gigs lined up.
“I’m performing up in Belfast at the start of July as part of the Tall Ships event,” Emma shares.
“I played at the Maritime Festival in Derry last year, so I’m really looking forward to being involved again.”
Emma will join several other big names onstage beside Belfast’s Odyssey Arena at the Lidl Belfast Titanic Martime Festival, with live music planned for the full length of the Tall Ships’ stay in Belfast, from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th July.
To catch up with the thousands who have already fallen for Emma’s voice, find ‘Emma Horan’ on Facebook, or tune into her mash-ups on her YouTube page.