Northern Ireland

Jealous of Angels singer flies to fame

Donna Taggart
Image caption Phil has written songs for singers from Elvis to the Bay City Rollers

A County Tyrone woman has taken the music industry by storm thanks to social media - and a bit of attention from one of Ireland's most prolific songwriters.

Donna Taggart's version of the song, 'Jealous of the Angels', is now a global online hit.

Her album also performed well in the US and her work was noticed by famed songwriter Phil Coulter.

It was while Donna was on maternity leave that she put her recording online, but no one could have predicted what happened next.

"I had recorded the song some time before. Mummy duties took over for a while and I wanted to give my music a push. So I gave it a very gentle nudge on social media and, you know, here we are."

So far, the song has had 66 million views on Facebook and more than two million on Youtube.

'Phenomenal success'

Donna, a mother of two, believes the words of the song have touched people across the globe.

"The lyrics are very honest and very raw. I suppose they put into words how a lot of people feel when they lose someone close to them, so I think it has struck a chord with a lot of people.

"Grief is something that touches us all," she said.

"The power of music is universal and I think when the two of those come together you have something which is very, very powerful."

The song was written by American singer-songwriter Jenn Bostic after the death of her father.

Donna's version has brought her to the attention of Londonderry musician, Phil Coulter.

"I was blown away by the phenomenal success, and that is a word which is overused in the music business. But the only way to describe what has happened to Donna is a phenomenon," said Coulter.

Bay City Rollers

"I had been aware of Donna. She was on my radar because she sent me a CD where she had done a cover of 'The Town I Loved', and a very good cover it was too.

"I thought, it is the perfect opportunity to invite Donna on to my shows in the north to let her do her thing for my audiences.

"And they have lapped it up," he said.

Coulter has written songs for singers from Elvis to the Bay City Rollers. Now he is planning to write something especially for Donna.

"There is a crossover between what Donna does and what I do so that is something which we would like to think we could make happen in the not too distant future," he said.

And Donna knows it is not every day that someone starting off in the music industry gets the backing from one of the best in the business.

"Phil is one of the most esteemed songwriters of our time and I am very, very grateful for the opportunity that he has given me and I will be grasping it with both hands," she said.

'Belief in me'

But Phil Coulter isn't the only legend from the Maiden City who has helped Donna on to the musical ladder.

She is also quick to acknowledge the help of the late BBC broadcaster Gerry Anderson.

"I remember so well walking into BBC Radio Foyle about five years ago now and I spoke with Gerry and asked him would he play my CD.

"He said 'listen, I will listen to it and if it is good I will give it a go, and if it is not I won't'.

"And the very next day he gave it extensive radio play. And, you know, I am very very grateful to Gerry for that." said Donna.

'Talent and hard work'

The famed songwriter says he gets great satisfaction out of helping younger people starting out - "especially talented younger people".

"Talent only buys you into the game," Coulter said.

"It is a combination of talent and hard work and application," he said.

And his advice to the up-and-coming singer?

"Turn up to work on Monday morning... Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday as well."