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MAGS Interview by Preshias Harris for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

MAGS Interview by Preshias Harris for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

‘Strong Enough’ to make her mark on Nashville

Singer, dancer, multi-instrumentalist plays her first CMA Fest

Mags McCarthy, known professionally simply as MAGS, grew up on a farm like many country artists.  However, this farm wasn’t in Alabama, Georgia or Tennessee. Her family farm is in County Cork, Ireland.

Recognized at a young age as an accomplished dancer, singer and instrumentalist (primarily the violin) she joined the world-famous Irish dance troupe, Rhythm of the Dance, touring with them all over the world.

Branching out to become a solo performer, she has continued to tour worldwide and has performed before members of the British Royal Family, the President of Ireland and at the White House for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. She has racked up more than 600 tour dates in the past two years, often breaking into a dance as she sings and plays her fiddle, passed down to her by her grandfather.

She played to enthusiastic audiences during CMA Fest in Nashville where she now makes her home since moving here in January 2018. We met on Music Row to talk about her new single, ‘Strong Enough,’ and what brought her to Nashville.

Preshias Harris: You’ve toured the world as a principal dancer with Rhythm Of The Dance and as a solo performer.  What drew you to Nashville?

MAGS: I always wanted to come to Nashville. I grew up listening to Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline all my life. I was always a singer and songwriter and I always felt that I need to come to Nashville for the songs. As a singer, it is the place that everyone wants to go to – Nashville.  I lived in Los Angeles for a few years but I’ve always felt that I wanted to be in Nashville because of the music I grew up with.  So I made the big move in January and I haven’t looked back since. I absolutely love it here.

PH:  So you think it was meant to be, for you to be here?

MAGS: I do. One hundred percent. 

PH: Do you feel a connection between the traditional folk music of Ireland and the Country and Bluegrass music in the States?

MAGS: Oh, it’s massive. Even my style of playing [the fiddle] I have that connection, a sort of Bluegrass playing.  I was born and raised playing Irish music but I feel that connection of where Bluegrass originated from. I think that’s one of the reasons why Ireland is so big into country music. It’s that connection to Bluegrass music.

PH: What can the audience expect to see and hear when they come to a MAGS show? 

MAGS: When you come to my show, you can expect fun, energy, dancing. I love for an audience to leave feeling they’ve been fully entertained by my show, from my singing, my songwriting, my fiddle playing.  I am a bit of a ’live wire’ on stage! People have said that to me. I want them to go home having seen an artist they haven’t seen before. And that’s what I’ve always tried to portray with my talents, whether it’s my Irish dancing and playing my fiddle at the same time, or singing my own songs. I love the audience to get energized, to be happy, to feel they’ve had a night’s entertainment and I made them feel welcome.

PH: Do you get an ‘energy feedback’ from the audience?

MAGS: Oh, one  hundred percent! When I see the audience happy, it makes me want to entertain more and more and more and get them involved! The audience can ‘feed’ you and it gives you confidence.  When you go out on stage at first, you are hoping  they’re going to like you.  You’re praying, oh my God, I’ll do my best here, but I’ve always tried to make them feel welcome to me and make that connection.

PH: You have a wide range of musical influences from traditional to pop to Country.  Can you tell us about how some of those influences have defined your music?

MAGS: I grew up listening to traditional Irish music and pop music as well as country. Over the years I have incorporated [the influence of] Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Presley, one of my favorite artists of all time. People have said to me ‘you have your own sound,’ but it’s because I’ve incorporated all of what I’ve listened to growing up all my life into my music today. That’s created my own sound from listening to Springsteen, Shania Twain, Dolly, Elvis, even to the Doobie Brothers. I listened to all that music, and to pop music today from Katy Perry to all the music kids listen to today. A huge range of genres of music. While I was performing during CMA Fest, one of the crew guys came over and was very complimentary and said, ‘you sound like Linda Ronstadt,’ and I thought that was a huge compliment.  They said I was different. I said, ‘I hope I’m not too different!’  

PH: Tell us about your new single, ‘Strong Enough.’

MAGS: I’m delighted with the response I’m getting from it. People have been very supportive. I’m very, very grateful to the people who support me and follow me on social media.

PH:  What is one of your favorite songs you’ve recorded?

MAGS: One of my favorite songs that’s precious to me is ‘Opry.’ It’s a song about my whole life story. I grew up on a farm back home and the first verse is about me growing up and wanting to go to Nashville. The chorus is:

No, nothing’s going to stop me, til I make it to the Opry
Because I know there’s always room for one more song
On stage with Garth and Dolly, I’ll be there with everybody
Please won’t somebody listen to my song
The Grand Ole Opry’s the place where I belong

And the second verse goes on about how I played in bars for tips and meals, and got taken in by crooked deals, and so on! So it pretty much tells my life story of where I am today.  It’s the dream of every artist to be at the Grand ole Opry. It’s definitely my dream.

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MAGS is one of the most dynamic new personalities to enter Nashville’s music scene and set to make a major impact on country music fans in the USA and overseas. Listen to MAGS singing her new single, ‘Strong Enough, at her website, https://www.magsmccarthy.com

Preshias Harris © Photo
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