“What took you so long?” That seems to be the main question that fans across the UK have asked Paul McDonald of late. He’s been a household name in the US for a decade, appearing on Good Morning America, The Today Show, NBC’s Parenthood, and the Tonight show. He’s had a multi-million streams hit on Spotify. He’s played hundreds of live shows: yet the energy and sheer joy he brings to his craft makes it feel like he’s just getting started. Despite all that, Summer 2022 saw the first ever performances on this side of the water from this charismatic star, who was born to entertain. The story has been building, this is an artist who has paid his dues, and this year also saw Vacancy Records issue an expanded deluxe version of his solo debut album ‘Modern Hearts’ worldwide.
The Paul McDonald story starts back in the US. Right from the start, the people around him just knew there was something about this kid. Everybody knew his name: he was the wide receiver in the football team, but he also trod the boards in school theatre productions. He formed his first band in 2006 and well and truly got the bug for live music. Often compared to legends like Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty, the poetic story-driven narratives and deeply catchy hooks in his music are delivered by a raspy yet refined voice reminiscent of another era yet that demands to be heard right now.
In 2007 Paul McDonald did something that would change the course of his life: it took him away from some of his goals, allowed him to achieve others, tested his resolve and then placed him back in charge and ahead of the pack. He entered the American Idol show.
For an already experienced artist, and one with his own voice in every sense, American Idol was a gamble. Paul McDonald wanted to reach a bigger audience, push his career to greater heights and avoid compromise. The fact that he reached the final – by receiving a ‘Golden Ticket’ – by singing his own song, appropriately titled ‘American Dream’ underlines just how much he satisfied those aims. His classic Country voice and easy charm won over the viewers. The Grand Magnolias album also caught the updraft, hitting the Billboard Heatseekers chart, and Paul McDonald’s own popularity soared on social media – and those new fans have very much stayed with him.
The year after his American Idol experience, he co-wrote and performed on the song ‘All I’ve Ever Needed’ which featured on the soundtrack to ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Pt 2’ OST and has over 6m plays on Spotify.
The focus however is very much on his own music and sound, and first Paul McDonald solo EP was released in 2015 and ‘Modern Hearts’ followed in 2018. Still resident in Nashville, Paul McDonald is constantly writing and performing, the music is in his blood.
Moving forward, and the road ahead is clearer. Paul McDonald is now operating largely as a solo artist – albeit one who loves still to play with a band. And his story is continuing to evolve, the successful dates across the UK [in the fine company of Ashley Campbell and Barrie-James] are cementing his ties with his ever-growing UK market. With fans of that Vacancy Records UK tour sporting his tongue in cheek ‘Who The Hell Is Paul McDonald’ t-shirts in ever increasing numbers, the question is becoming increasingly redundant.
And if there are people out there who still don’t know… well don’t worry, he’ll keep on going till they get the message!
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