By Thomas Lawrence
Dozens of buskers took to the streets of Ballina last week to compete on stage and kick off the Salmon Festival’s ‘Pearse Street Party’. After a week of selection by the judges, three finalists out of 30 buskers were chosen to compete for a cash prize of €500.
Joanne Gallagher, 15, was chosen as the winner. The talented musician from Killala has already been scouted by The Voice UK and it was her bold song choice that won her victory, according to one of the judges, as she performed a powerful rendition of ‘I Will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor.
Joanne’s performance, along with that of Aisling Mullarkey, of Enniscrone, and Winos in Suits, of Dublin, showed that she has a professionalism well beyond her years. Judge Finéinn Quinn, a former winner of the competition, was impressed by her confidence.
“When you’re up there as a new artist, it’s nerve-wracking. Your nerves are on edge, but it’s something that helps you grow. I see it as a starting point for everyone.
“She was so energetic on stage. Judging them on the street and judging them on stage are two completely different things. She was a different performer when she was on the street, because there weren’t many people in front of her, but when she was on stage she really showed her colors, her stage presence was amazing and her voice matched perfectly.
Joanne has started creating and releasing her own original music, as she plans to continue pursuing her dream.
“It’s like heaven, I love it. It’s my passion and I loved it so much. I really didn’t expect to win, because there was great competition.
Event organizer Cian Gilmartin thanked Callan Tansey Solicitors and David O’Malley for their sponsorship of all cash prizes, which amounted to €750 in total awarded to the three finalists, and €50 distributed to buskers throughout the week.
Cian congratulated Joanne on her victory and spoke of the high level of competition: “Joanne is brilliant. This voice! Unbelievable. She moved the crowd, lifting the city. It’s great for their confidence. That’s why I got involved. There are chances for them to get gigs now.
Cian looks forward to next year, which is the city’s 300th anniversary.
“We have another great year next year, with Ballina 2023. I can’t wait for it all to start again and I’m so happy to have moved on.”