Who or what inspired you to take up singing and pursue a career in music?
I think it must have been my competitive streak. An opportunity arose in school and I thought, I can do that (despite having never sung before) and so began my love of singing and music.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
My music teacher in school, Ruth McCartney, was definitely very important. As well as inspiring me to become a singer, she also taught me the importance of professionalism (I was a little bit wild back then).
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Moving to London from Northern Ireland was certainly a challenge but it was also the best thing that I could have done for my career. I sing a lot of choral music and there really is no better place to start than London. Because I was a bit of a random Irish person I was not in the inner circle (everyone knows each other) but I managed to audition and get work and have had the opportunity to work with and meet some amazing people.
I also work abroad quite a lot which means spending a lot of time living out of a suitcase, packing has been a real challenge.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
It is hard to say. When I was about 16 I sang as a soloist with my school choir on Last Night of the Proms (live from Belfast) It was viewed by millions of people but when I look back on it I was so calm and cool and just relishing every moment, I am not sure I will ever feel that again. I suppose it is the joy of youth.
More recently, I played the role of Dido last year for Sestina, the early music ensemble. I made it onto BBC Radio 3’s “In Tune” programme to sing the Lament. This was quite scary given how many world class recordings there are of this particular piece and how many musicians listen to Radio 3 but I reckon I did myself proud.
Which particular works do you think you sing best?
I am a huge fan of Bach, although I am not sure it is what I sing best yet.
I sing English song quite well, a fact that amuses some of my colleagues because of my broad Belfast accent when I talk.
I also do a pretty good Irish folk song.
As a singer, what is your definition of success?
Being able to live is definitely a realistic measure of a success and I have managed so far, although there have been a few scary moments over the years. However, I think the real success is having a job that you love and find fulfilling. It is not always glamorous but it is usually fun and when you sing amazing music with excellent musicians it makes it all worthwhile.
What do you enjoy doing most?
I really enjoy going on holiday funnily enough. I obviously like working but I love having a well-deserved break when I can actually switch off. I have realised how much the whole having a phone and internet really mean that we are rarely switched off from work!
What is your present state of mind?
I think my housemate would say stressed but I think mostly determined.