Meet Cork-born mezzo-soprano, Michelle O'Brien

Michelle O’Brien, mezzo-soprano, was born and raised under the magic of the Shandon bells in Cork (hence her nickname ‘Shellybelles’).

She forms part of the bill for a fundraising concert at the Freemasons’ Hall in Cork on Saturday where proceeds will go to the Cork International Choral Festival, Advocates for Victims of Homicide and Edel House.

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Best recent book you’ve read:

John O’Donohue’s Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom.

Best recent film:

La La Land. I absolutely loved this musical film — you are just drawn into the whole magic of the story through music and dance.

Best recent show you’ve seen:

You can’t beat a concert with our very own sopranos Cara O’Sullivan & Majella Cullagh, which was recently held in the Everyman Palace.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old):

Gregory Porter — Smile.

First ever piece of music that really moved you:

Every song from the Sound of Music and Wizard of  Oz, it still resonates with me today.

The best gig or show you’ve ever seen (if you had to pick one!):

I have to give it to the original JLo, aka Johnny Logan, in Vicar  Street,September just gone. He rocked.

Tell us about your TV viewing:

When I have the time and I am looking for a bit of chewing gum for the brain maybe a bit of Corrie. Even though a good bud of mine Catherine ‘High Hair’ has a theory soaps were only created for crowd control between 7- 9pm. I enjoy Brendan O’Connor’s programme The Cutting Edge and other current affairs

Radio and/or podcasts:

Current affairs radio programmes on RTÉ 1 and Newstalk. BBC Desert Island Discs podcast.

You’re curating your dream festival — which three artists are on the bill, living or dead?

Maria Callas (pictured  below),Michael Jackson and Elvis.

Your best celebrity encounter:

Bumping into Danny from the Script by chance in the Clarion Hotel, Cork — totally star struck!

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event — where, when and why?

I am drawn to the roaring 20s in New York, having a fashionable flapper wardrobe, dancing the Charleston, going to all the prohibitions parties in hidden speakeasies.

Do you have any interesting ancestors or family?

Too many to mention here but I come from a very long line of strong matriarchs.

Unsung hero — individual, organisation or group you think don’t get the profile/ praise they deserve:

My adored Nan who sadly passed away last Christmas. She was 93½ years old. She was definitely an unsung hero. She was extremely progressive for her years and the wisest woman I knew, and is on my shoulder every day.

You are queen for a day — what’s your first decree?

Firstly I would legalise medicinal cannabis to support those who are suffering unnecessary pain.

Secondly, I would champion mental health awareness, and thirdly I would enhance resources to support people with dementia and their carers.


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