Three Northern Ireland singer songwriters have been chosen to open the 11th United Airlines Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival this week.

With three very different musical styles Ciaran McElhinney, Mike Donaghy and Randall Stephen Hall will take to the stage at the Titanic Room in the Holiday Inn, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast on Wednesday (March 4).

The songwriters are each known for their unique and distinctive styles and will be playing “In The Round” a favourite concert style of the prestigious Belnash Festival.

Randall Stephen Hall, Mike Donaghy and Ciaran McElhinney

Randall Stephen Hall, Mike Donaghy and Ciaran McElhinney

Omagh born Ciaran McElhinney, 40, best known for supporting Irish Celtic rock legends Horslips at the Ulster Hall in Belfast in October is influenced by everything from Rock, Metal, Blues, Bluegrass and Country to Americana, Irish and Folk.

He describes his own style as a “local brand of Blues and Americana meets Bluegrass meets Rock”.

He said: “Getting the opportunity to perform at the Belnash Festival is an absolute honour, it is by far one of the most respected music festivals in Northern Ireland because of its commitment to artist development as well as providing the audience with great music.

“Not only will I be playing the opening concert with two fantastic other artists in Mike Donaghy and Randall Stephen Hall but I’m looking forward to seeing some of the local, national and international artists who will take to the bill this year.

Bangor performer Mike Donaghy, 29, who has had a number of songs in the folk charts in the UK, Ireland, The Netherlands, America, Germany and Switzerland was recently named one of the finalists in the UK Songwriting Competition.

He said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be playing at this years festival. It’s my 4th year taking part in this fine event and it’s great to be playing alongside two great artists Ciaran McElhinney and Randall Stephen-Hall.

“I travelled to Mid-West America last year on my Walls For The Wind tour and it’s amazing to see Belfast come to life with the same energy and enthusiasm found in the likes of Nashville.”

Belfast singer/songwriter, poet, storyteller and illustrator Randall Stephen Hall came to the attention of the local scene when he appeared on The Gerry Anderson Show in 2010 on BBC Radio Ulster Radio Foyle.

And with a broad interest in what he calls “our shared local culture”, Stephen’s music is a mixture of folk, Irish trad’, blues, gospel, Ulster Scots Irish humour and Americana which he says is a unique blend of “Folk n’ Fusion”.

Tickets to the Belnash In The Round Concert with Ciaran McElhinney, Mike Donaghy, Randall Stephen Hall priced £4 on Wednesday March 4 at the Titanic Room, Holiday inn Belfast, Ormeau Avenue are available from, visit-Belfast Welcome Centre (opposite City Hall) or by calling 028 9024 6609. Doors open at 5.30pm and show starts 6pm-7pm.

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