A young Gaoth Dobhair singer/songwriter is on the cusp of the biggest gig of her career this week.

Hannah Mc Fadden isn’t just headlining a hometown show at The Social this Friday – it’s the launch of her band, HannahB.

RTÉ cameras have been capturing the journey for a new documentary series, An Gig Mór, following Hannah as she’s mentored by fellow Gaoth Dobhair artist Eve Belle Murtagh.

Ready for take-off, Hannah says: “When I’m on stage, I’m in a different world and I just love it so much.”

The 20-year-old has taken influence from the voices of the 70s such as Fleetwood Mac and Joni Mitchell as she hones her sound.

“I really dive into my lyrics more than the music, they come from the heart,” she said.

Friday’s gig promises “great craic, great tunes and a load of fun” as the band readies a setlist of original songs and some classic covers.

The newly-formed HannahB outfit comprises fellow Pobalscoil Chloich Cheannfhaola pals Ciaran and Cahir Doyle, Darren O’Halloran and Kyle Warner – all accomplished musicians in their own right. The band met through the national Scléip competition, which Hannah won in 2019 and 2022.

HannahB Band

The folk-pop energy is a far cry from Hannah’s early days belting out tunes from Annie the Musical.

“When I was five I heard Annie on the TV and I instantly knew I wanted to become a singer,” she recalls. “For my eighth birthday, I begged my mum for singing lessons. Then when we went into lockdown I started picking up the guitar. I watched a documentary series on Netflix about Oasis, that sparked the rock and roll and folk genre to me and I realised that is what music I like. I changed from musical theatre to classical to rock and my own style.”

Songwriting is a core focus for Hannah. She began writing lyrics at 15 years of age and is currently studying musical performance at Queens University Belfast, a course that is helping her appreciate new genres and styles.

Her Donegal roots remain strong. A trained sean-nós singer, Hannah enjoys breaking away from the usual formats and often infuses Irish translation into her covers.

Hannah has also gained valuable industry insights from her third cousin, Moya Brennan, and has performed at the famous Leo’s Tavern Clubeo nights dedicated to emerging artists as well as the Mouthpiece Open Mic nights at The Cottage Letterkenny.

Friday’s gig in The Social promises to be a celebration of this artistic journey. As a strong believer in the local music scene, Hannah has invited two young bands to be the opening acts – The Stands from Falcarragh and The Notionz from Dungloe and Letterkenny.

“I feel there is a great sense of community between young artists in Donegal. We all support each other,” Hannah adds.

“But I feel people are more hesitant to approach young artists. They feel that if they don’t know an act they might not like it. But young people need to have these kinds of gigs to show that we are here, we are making new music and that people support us.”

Hannah Mc Fadden recording for her feature in An Gig Mór, which is due out later this year

HannahB is also on the line-up for SULT Music Festival this July, which will be another huge milestone for the band.

“SULT was something I always dreamed of doing and now it’s becoming a reality,” Hannah said, having been in the audience at the main stage every summer.

“We are the opening act on the first night so that will really kick things into gear.”

As she wraps up her first year of college, Hannah is also planning to get her EP out. New single releases are also on the way on Spotify, so stay tuned.

Tickets for HannahB @ The Social Live, Gweedore are on sale on Eventbrite for €8 (an additional 50c can be paid for Boyles Bus return transport, leaving Creeslough Corner Garden 7pm, Dunfanaghy Square 7.15pm, Falcarragh 7.30 pm: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/hannahb-the-social-live-gweedore-tickets-890277031567