Singer-songwriter Andrea Magee is putting her new-found fame to good use, using her increased public profile to support worthy causes.
The Glengormley girl, who now lives in Kent, was back home for a few days last week and took time out of her busy schedule to talk to the Times.
The X Factor star delighted customers at Eden Cafe on Friday morning (November 8) when she gave an impromptu acoustic performance.
She called in to the Ballyclare Road eatery for a cuppa and a chat before grabbing her guitar and entertaining staff and customers with a rendition of her single ‘Any Minute Now’, which she released in support of BBC Children in Need. She went on to play a medley of pop songs, which also impressed the discerning diners.
The 28-year-old, an accomplished flautist and guitarist, is putting her considerable musical talents to good use, working with local charities such as CLIC Sargent and Northern Ireland Hospice.
The former special needs teacher has already given her backing to CLIC Sargent’s Santa’s Grotto fundraiser at Hillside Nursery and will perform at the Hospice’s Lights to Remember Ceremony at Dominican College in Belfast on December 19.
“I’m delighted that I can use my music for something good. Going into this whole process my goal was never to become famous or to get heavily involved in the pop industry. My goal was always to get my music out there and for it to be used for something good.
“I don’t want to be a mega pop star. If it comes part and parcel with it then brilliant. But if I just get to use my music for something good then I’ve achieved my goal,” she said.
Despite having already committed to a busy schedule of gigs in the run up to Christmas, the generous Glengormley girl is still keen to put her growing public profile to further good use by working with other charities and worthy causes.
Andrea discovered her love of music at a young age, learning to play the flute at Glengormley Primary School and performing with the family band from the age of seven. She furthered her singing and playing abilities at Ballyclare High School and went on to study music at the University of Ulster.
She took part in BBC talent show Fame Academy when she was just a teenager, and soon got over the disappointment of not achieving overnight success.
Having moved to south-east England to further her studies, she continued to play gigs and develop her sound while working as a teacher.
Despite admitting that she’s not a fan of TV talent shows, Andrea revealed how she was inspired by pupils at the school she was teaching at to audition for the X Factor.
“One of them actually said, ‘You’re not practicing what you preach. You’re saying go and chase your dreams, but we all know that you want to do this Miss, so why don’t you go and do it?’ So, I broke my heart and I did it.”
Since exiting the X Factor at the final stage before the live shows, Andrea has been busy gigging at venues in England and Northern Ireland. And she’s not let the disappointment of how she went out of the show on one bum note dent her ambition to pursue a singing career, focussing instead on the positive public reaction to her music.
“It’s been really lovely. Everybody’s support has made me feel really proud that I took a chance and I did it,” she said.
“You have to be very driven. It would be very easy to let something like that knock you if you don’t have a focus and you’re not keen to get out there and get gigging. Prior to the X Factor I was already on my way. Maybe not on such a big platform, but I was still going in the right direction. I had my band, I was doing gigs, I was getting songs recorded and I was still writing.
“The reason I went in to the X Factor was just to raise my profile and that’s all I wanted to use it for and my profile has now risen and I can now get my foot in the door in venues that I maybe wouldn’t have been able to before. I like to let my music talk, so that’s all I want to do - get my foot in the door and then perform and then I believe that other doors will open.”
Currently in the process of recording what she describes as “a real stripped back, honest EP”, Andrea hasn’t yet secured a record deal, despite interest from some smaller, independent labels.
“My goal is to have an EP or an album that I’m ridiculously happy with and then approach a label, rather than the other way round because I feel that they would have too much input into it,” she explained.
With dozens of gigs lined up over the next couple of months, including one at The Empire in Belfast supporting Ken Haddock, she is also considering taking her live show on the road in the new year.
Andrea’s commitment to her music means that her teaching career has had to be put on hold, but she says that someday she would like to go back to working with children and young people.
“I have to put my heart and soul into something and that’s what I did with the teaching for three years. But this is my time to try and do it with my music.
“I’d like to think that I’ll go back and work with young people. I’m not sure whether it would be in a secondary school or a special needs school or maybe setting up my own school. I always thought that if I ever did get some sort of fame or some sort of a profile that I’d like to use it with education, that was my business plan - to bring it back to working with young people,” she added.
• ‘Any Minute Now’ is available from iTunes. Fifty pence from each download will be donated to Children in Need.
• For more information about Andrea, check out her Facebook page - www.facebook.com/Andreamageeofficial - or follow her on Twitter - @MageeAndrea