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Spotlight On: Irish singer Sarah McTernan

For this week’s Spotlight On feature, we spoke to Irish singer Sarah McTernan.

The 27-year-old shot to fame after appearing on The Voice of Ireland back in 2015, coming in third place in the singing competition.

The Clare native went on to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2019, performing the song ’22’.

Speaking exclusively to Goss.ie, the songstress opened up about how she deals with online trolls, staying motivated during the pandemic, and what we can expect to see from her in the future.

 

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How did you first get into music?

I always had a love for singing growing up and stuff, but my first big music venture was in 2015 when I did The Voice of Ireland. I got a taste for the industry and knew that it was my mission to turn it into a career, although it took me a while from then until now to gather the confidence and start writing and releasing music.

I started gigging after The Voice and that’s when I suppose how I got into the industry. I originally reached out to my friend asking him how to piece together a band and how I’d go about it, he replied with a link to ‘The Voice’ so it was really by chance I even applied.

Even on the day of the first audition, it was like a baptism of hell. I was late. I’m pretty sure my car broke down so my best friend drove up to Dublin. But I’m so glad I had that experience. To this day, I kind of have it in my head if stuff doesn’t seem to be going your way then maybe it’s a test. Like if you really want something you will make it work!

 

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For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to be a singer. As a child, I would sing into my mirror with my hairbrush so I feel it was always a dream or desire. I would find it hard to pinpoint a specific reason as to when or why I was inspired. Nobody around me in my family sang or played music. It was always more of a personal thing though, I didn’t start admitting it to people that it was my dream until later as my confidence grew!

In 2019, my grandmother sadly passed away. It was very difficult and I felt a bit lost. This was a huge pivotal moment for me in terms of my mindset because I had a moment where I just thought, ‘We really don’t know how long we have on this earth so what’s the point worrying about silly things.’

I think when you lose somebody so close to you, it’s a penny drop moment. You realise life is so precious. So whatever holdbacks or confidence issues I had, it felt like they dissolved and I now have tunnel vision. So I guess my grandmother is a huge influence on my career and my venture as a singer/songwriter. There was nobody that believed in me more, I know she’s guiding me.

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You’re used to being live on TV and performing, but do you ever get nervous before you go on, if so, how do you handle the nerves?

I definitely still get nervous. I think it’s only natural and shows you care. When you perform, you want to deliver the best possible performance so I guess it may not always be just nerves. Sometimes it’s more excitement with a little nerves mixed in.

For me I have a manifestation/motivation podcast that I listen to sometimes if I’m nervous. I find this helps get you in the right midframe when I’m nervous. Mostly, I would just do warm ups and stuff to prepare.

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What three pieces of advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in music?

Firstly, focus on your goal. Write it down and ask yourself what do you want to achieve. If you have a set goal you will do anything to get to your mark. Is it original music? Theatre? Just focus yourself.

Secondly, don’t let anybody sway you. You know what you have to do! If it takes a few months of grinding and telling nobody what you’re doing, do it. ‘Don’t talk about what you’re going to do, show them’. I wanted to go to university to study music when I was 17 and everybody told me ‘it’s a hard job and I’d never make money etc’. I’ve been a makeup artist, I have done a nurses assistant course plus way more and I’m here today singing as my career. So always go with your gut; you know what you’re capable of!

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Finally, connect with like-minded people and get as much experience as you can. Don’t be scared to admit you don’t know how to do something or how to go about it – ask the questions. We all have to start somewhere.

 

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How did it feel to place in third on The Voice of Ireland?

It really was an amazing feeling. The whole experience was amazing. I feel very lucky and grateful to have been involved in it.

Would you ever consider entering another singing competition?

I’m not sure. I wouldn’t ever rule it out, but I am loving the journey I’m on now writing and releasing my own music. It is the best feeling in the world. I’m so happy on the path that I’m taking right now, so I can’t see it anytime in the future.

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Do you miss performing during Covid-19 times?

I definitely miss performing. Even watching YouTube or Netflix anything to do with music gets me so hyped! I cannot wait to perform and especially perform my own music. My original music journey began during COVID so I am still yet to perform my music.

How have you stayed motivated/inspired in the last year?

I find it helps when I focus on my goals. I constantly rewatch The Secret and I’m big into manifesting. Aside from that, my family and friends and my beautiful daughter Mia. She keeps me on my toes. She has been singing and trying to write songs lately and it’s just so unbelievable to watch. I know she’s going to be a little singer. When you have little impressionable eyes watching you, it’s a huge motivation!

 

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How do you handle online trolling and what do you think needs to be done to stop it happening?

I handle it now by just wishing them well and sending them love. I personally would never send something to someone that could potentially upset them. I think it’s absolutely bizarre, so I’m always wary of the mindset of anybody sending hate! I just wish them well and block if necessary.

It used to really upset me but now I have maybe gotten a bit tougher. It’s still hard to see hate don’t get me wrong, but I just move on and focus on what I’m grateful for. I think people who spread hate online should be punished. I’m not sure how you’d even police that but it’s just really not good!

What exciting things can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m releasing my next single on the 18th of June and I am beyond excited! You can expect a summer dance track! I have lots of music to release this year and a few other exciting bits!

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