O'Donnell feels bond with rural NZ
If you could take anyone to lunch on a Concorde, who would it be?
It sounds like the type of question you'd find in a gaudy magazine quiz, designed to tell you if you're too shy or what shade of overpriced lipstick you should buy, but for one fan of Irish superstar Daniel O'Donnell, the question wasn't hypothetical.
This fan contacted the singer with a slightly unusual request, in the years before Concorde stopped speeding through the skies.
She - O'Donnell, when retelling this story, did not specify the fan's gender, but it seems fairly safe to assume it was a woman - had survived a bad accident, making it through the long recovery process by listening to his music.
To repay him for everything his music had brought her, would the world-famous performer take a break from his busy schedule to come and lunch on the Concorde?
O'Donnell said yes. The pair dined on one of the now-grounded supersonic aircraft, an experience which was "quite something", he recalls, and then parted ways, most likely never to meet again.
At the very least, the story demonstrates the passion and loyalty O'Donnell inspires in his fans. They lined the street outside the church when he married, have bought his yearly albums for a quarter of a century, and now, those in Southland have the chance to hear him perform in person.
The singer will stage a concert in Invercargill on Wednesday , part of a New Zealand tour to promote his new album A Picture of You.
It will be his second trip to Invercargill, after a visit in 2012, and he says he is looking forward to heading south again.
He believes he has a different kind of connection with fans in provincial centres like Southland, as he feels he understands the world they inhabit.
"I was born in a small place on the northwest coast of Ireland, pretty similar to a lot of people that come to the shows. I would have had a very similar upbringing to all of those people that were brought up in rural New Zealand."
There are those who think O'Donnell's popularity stems from descendants of colonial settlers connecting with their Irish heritage, and he acknowledges this could be a factor in his success.
However, he also believes people just enjoy the type of songs he chooses to sing. O'Donnell will perform his first Sri Lankan show in March, and he cites this as an example of the wide appeal of his music.
"The audience that comes to our shows, some have connections with Ireland, but I find that majority don't. Obviously in Sri Lanka, I can't see them having Irish backgrounds."
Despite living in the spotlight, as a household name and performer, for so many years, the singer is not tiring of his career.
"I enjoy the music, I enjoy singing. I never think of it as work.
"I've been very lucky."
Daniel O'Donnell will perform at the Civic Theatre, Invercargill, on Wednesday.
WIN * WIN * WIN
To go into the draw win a copy of Daniel O'Donnell's new album A Picture of You, email your name, address and contact telephone number to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the word "Daniel" in the subject line, before noon on Tuesday.
- The Southland Times