Nathan Carter: Christmas with family's Where I Wanna Be
After enjoying his busiest year yet, Irish country music star Nathan Carter has set his sights on a well-deserved break over Christmas. The singer talks to Suzanne McGonagle about his plans for the festive season, a new year trip to Las Vegas and his very own television show
HE'S the good-looking boy next door who, it just so happens, is also a heck of a singer. With sell-out concerts, another chart-topping album and a legion of fans, Nathan Carter is one of the biggest names on the Irish country music scene.
His aptly named latest album Where I Wanna Be has just recently reached the number one spot in the Irish music charts and this ambitious and hard-working adopted Irishman is currently gigging his way across the island.
With a packed schedule already in place for 2016, the Liverpool native's career is going from strength to strength.
Music runs through Carter's veins: he was playing the accordion from the age of four, won an all-Ireland title for traditional singing at 10 and soon afterwards became head chorister in the Saint Francis Xavier Boys Choir in Liverpool.
His debut album, Starting Out, was released in 2007 and since then he has been at the forefront of the revival of the country and Irish music scene in both the Ireland and Britain.
It was Carter's version of the song Wagon Wheel that truly catapulted him to stardom, with his 2012 album of the same name making it to the top three of the Irish album chart.
The next year he released his studio album Where I Wanna Be, followed earlier this year by Beautiful Life – both albums topped the Irish charts.
At the end of a manic 2015, the 25-year-old performer, who has lived in Ireland since he was 18, tells The Irish News he's looking forward to taking a break over Christmas when he will fly home to Liverpool to spend time with his family.
"I'm doing Christmas gigs right up until December 22 and then I go back to Liverpool for six days," he says. "I'll spend it with mum and dad and the extended family so I've lots of people to meet up with.
"It's been a year since I was home properly; I've had flying visits but I wouldn't have seen the extended family so I'm really looking forward to getting home.
"Christmas has always a big traditional day in our house. I think there's about 22 coming to I will be staying well clear of the kitchen."
Carter enjoyed a brief but very special taste of family time a few weeks back, however, when relatives, including his beloved grandfather, joined him in Dublin to help him fulfil one of his life ambitions – presenting his own TV show.
In the hour-long Christmas special, recorded in front of an audience of fans in the beautiful surroundings of the Round Room in Dublin's Mansion House, Carter performs a selection of his biggest hits and duets with some of his musical heroes including Mary Black, The Dubliners’ John Sheahan and Paddy Casey.
He also introduces the audience – and RTE viewers – to his family and shares the spotlight with his grandfather when they perform one of Elvis Presley's best-known songs together.
"I never thought it would happen, but RTÉ gave me my very own TV show this Christmas," he laughs. "I'm delighted with it.
"I did a duet with my grandad – he was the one who taught me my first song; it was an old Elvis song so it was very special to me. It was also his 82nd birthday, so it was pretty special.
"He was the one that really got me into music, he used to play all the old records, from Bing Crosby to Johnny Cash. I've great support from my family; they come over now and again to Ireland to see me perform which is great."
Despite already being an old hand at performing, this was Carter's first time presenting.
"I was very nervous at the start but I soon forgot about the nerves," he says. "I would love to see it become a series – I really enjoyed it and it was good fun."
He will be back on stage from December 28 in Castlebar and Dublin before celebrating the New Year with a gig in Cavan – it will be January before he can take a proper, well-earned rest.
"I'm off to Vegas and Cancun for a holiday – time to let my hair go down," he says.
"I'm taking a total break from performing. It's going to be a time to relax and go to a few shows in Vegas – Rod Stewart and Elton John perhaps."
Then he'll be hitting the road again with more than three months of concerts in Ireland, Britain and a few festivals on the continent before travelling to the other side of the world.
"I'm going on tour in the new year. From mid-January we will be touring Ireland – from Kilkenny to Athlone, up to the north to Bangor's Elim Complex and Ballymena," he says.
"Then in March and April it's over to the UK and then I also have a bit of a tour of Europe, heading to France and Germany. I've also Australia to look forward to; I'm going to be touring over there. I've been offered it twice before to go out, but it never worked out so we are talking about November at the moment.
"It will be my first break out there, it will be something different and I'm really looking forward to it. Then in September, I'm off to Spain with 600 fans – Carter on the Costa where we basically hire a hotel in Benalmadena and have four nights of performances. I'll bring out people like Philomena Begley and Johnny Brady too so there's lots of music, sangria, Nathan Carter and whatever else."
And as if that wasn't enough, Carter – who has lived in Enniskillen for the past two years – has a new album to launch in March, one he says will be different from the rest.
"It's two-thirds my own songs – some are self-composed or composed with others," he says. "I've never dreamt of putting so many of my own self-compositions on an album. But I have been gigging about a lot lately and have been singing my own compositions and they've really went down well so it has given me a lot more confidence."
:: The Nathan Carter Show will be broadcast on December 30 on RTÉ 1. Nathan will be performing at Bangor Elim Complex in Co Down on January 23. (Tickets direct from the venue or online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/bangorelimcomplex.)