The Ulster provincial finalist of Star Nation, a new all-Ireland competition giving aspiring songwriters and musicians a chance to win €3,000 of music gear, a recording session in one of Ireland’s most famous studios and a chance to play a showcase gig at a top Irish venue, has been announced.
‘Star Nation’, the brainchild of Irish-owned pizza chain Four Star Pizza, asked musicians across the island of Ireland to submit one original song for a unique opportunity to grab themselves a slice of success, increase their profile, and win some very tasty prizes.
Hundreds of budding songwriters from up and down the country entered the contest, and now the provincial winner from Ulster has been announced as Riley Holland, a singer songwriter from Newtownards, Co. Down. Riley recently performed some of her original songs for the first time at the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, and ever since has been writing songs and performing wherever she can, be it Belfast, North Down or Dublin.
Riley writes acoustic pop songs with a focus on meaningful lyrics, and describes her winning track ‘Butterflies’as being about how small connections can grow into important moments, “It’s about appreciating the little things, and how the little connections can lead somewhere you don’t expect – getting butterflies can be such a small feeling but it can lead to you falling in love.”
Speaking about what it feels like to be named as a finalist in the competition, Riley said, “It’s amazing, I’m on a complete high. I was jumping up and down for like three hours, it’s just been amazing!”
Riley Holland along with Turnstiles, DALY and Clare Belle, the provincial finalists from Connacht, Leinster, and Munster will now receive a one-day recording session at the renowned Windmill Lane Recording Studios,famous for recording world-famous acts such as David Bowie, Lady Gaga, U2, and The Rolling Stones, and will go on to play at the grand final showcase gig on September 29 at one of Dublin’s best known live venues, Whelan’s, which has hosted the likes of Ed Sheeran, Nick Cave, Arctic Monkeys, Mumford & Sons and Hozier in the past.
At the live final an overall winner will then be revealed who will pick up a cheque for €3,000 of musical equipment from renowned Irish music store MusicMaker, described by Glen Hansard as ‘a vital artery in the Dublin rock scene’ and the place where famous acts like U2, Blondie, Muse, Manic Street Preachers and The National come to browse when they’re in town.
“We were completely overwhelmed by the number of entries we received from local songwriters and musicians, and I think it’s fair to say that despite our small size the island of Ireland is still one of the best places in the world for original musical talent,” said Four Star Pizza Communications Executive Christina Hamilton. “I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who entered Star Nationand to congratulate Riley Holland who will now each receive a recording session at Windmill Lane before playing at our grand final showcase gig in Whelan’s on September 29thwhere the overall winner will be announced.
“We’ll be posting each act’s track on our social media pages over the next few days, so keep an eye out and get voting for Ireland’s first Star Nation winner!”, she added.
Music fans across the island of Ireland can now listen to each track and vote for their favourite act to be crowned overall winner by going to Four Star Pizza’s social media pages or by using the voucher code Star 1 for Ulster, Star 2 for Connacht, Star 3 for Leinster, or Star 4 for Munster when making their next order.
Voting closes on Thursday September 26 with the overall winner being announced at Whelan’s on September 29.