We all at some point have considered dropping out to go and chase our dreams. While few of us will ever muster the courage, American singer Colleen is doing just that.
Colleen was in Strabane recently ahead of her a gig in the Mount Errigal Hotel in August.
While the Californian has been singing most of her life, the decision to pursue it as a full-time career was as much foisted upon her as it was a choice.
Colleen’s story is an inspirational one and epitomises the old adage that fortune really does favour the brave.
Her journey really only began in April this year when she was asked to sing at a homecoming gig for American troops returning from overseas.
Colleen explained, “I was working as a paralegal when the United Services Organisations contacted me to ask if I could welcome home the 503rd infantry, the infantry my son belongs to.
“Of course I said yes but when I went to my bosses and asked for leave they said no. I said my son was back from the war and I was glad to have him home alive but still they wouldn’t give me the time off. So I decided it was time for me to quit.”
While a huge decision, Colleen Loy says she has known for years that singing was her one true calling. With family and the general pressures of life though the time was never quite right to take it up permanently.
“I had been planning this in my mind for several years but I never had the courage or belief to jump. I was always worrying what people might think. Then when the opportunity came along I just decided this is it, this is who I am. I was born to sing and this is my time.”
While always in employment and raising her kids, the lady from Sacramento has spent her life performing. Her talent has brought her to some of the biggest stages in America and to the side of global stars like Mick Fleetwood and the recently deceased George Jones.
After performing at the United Services Organisations gig, Colleen decided to embark on a tour of her very own. First stop Ireland.
“My lifetime dream was to come to Ireland because, as my name suggests, I’m an Irish Colleen. I have an adopted sister and we always wanted to visit this country so when we saw this was the year of The Gathering we decided to go.
“Since I left my job so much has fallen into place for me and I after arriving in Ireland I built up quite a nice little tour for myself. I have been making the most of every opportunity that has come my way and it has been amazing,” she said.
While cagey about her age, Colleen did reveal that she is a grandmother. So was her decision to turn her back on her ‘normal’ life and pursue her dream simply a mid-life crisis?
“You could say I’m having a mid-life crisis but really it had just got to the stage where I’d had enough. I know music is who I am and that is the bottom line. I have said that since I was a young girl. I used to tell the nuns in school that I was born to sing and it got me in trouble a few times but I knew even then.
“What I have done is the right decision and I know that, without doubt, in my soul. I have been blessed and all I did was decide to stop wasting the talent God gave me. I ran away from the corporate world to do what I was born to do,” she said.
And a few choice pieces of advice for anyone who finds themselves caught in a similar ‘Bridges of Madison County’ type of quandary?
“Do it. If you sit and think about something and you over-analyse it, all you will be left with are regrets. If you have something burning in your soul and you don’t go after it today, at some stage you won’t have a tomorrow. You will end up sitting in a rocking chair in some care home wondering why you didn’t.”
On August 20 a Donegal audience will get to see Colleen Loy perform for the first time.
With decades of musical passion pent up it promises to be an absolute cracker. Tickets and details can be found by calling the Mount Errigal on 00353 7491 22700 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.