Darren Holden (musician)

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Darren Holden
Darren Holden, 2011.jpg
Background information
Born (1972-07-04) 4 July 1972 (age 46)
Genres Irish folk music, country Pop, Pianoman, Pop Ballads.
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter
Years active 1998–present
Labels Polygram Records, Crashed Records, ARK21/Universal Records, EMI Records, EMI Manhattan, Universal, Sony Records, Celtic Collections, Caroline Records.
Associated acts The High Kings. Boyzone. Billy Joel.

Darren Holden (born 29 October 1972) is an Irish singer-songwriter who has performed on Broadway as part of Riverdance and Movin' Out and in the national tours for both shows. His debut album, Suddenly, released in Ireland and Europe in 1998, contained three Top 30 hit singles. He currently sings as part of the Irish folk group, The High Kings, along with Finbarr Clancy, Brian Dunphy, and Martin Furey.

Rhythm of the Dance, Riverdance and Movin' Out[edit]

Born in the County Kilkenny town of Mooncoin, Darren Holden toured Europe, Russia and Asia extensively from 1994 to 1999, including support slots with such top performers as Paul Young, Belinda Carlisle, Bonnie Tyler, and Uriah Heep.

He joined the new Irish dance/musical Rhythm of the Dance as lead vocalist in 1999 and spent 10 months performing in Scandinavia, Germany, Hungary, Belgium and Yugoslavia. He joined the Broadway production of Riverdance in February 2000 as a featured vocalist. The show ran for 18 months and included promo slots on NBC's Today Show and CBS' Early Show.

While in New York City, New York Holden teamed with country music producer Don Dinicola and recorded an album of contemporary/traditional country tunes. Recording took place in New York as well as at OmniSound in Nashville. Featured musicians included members of the Dixie Chicks band. US country radio embraced the album, and by the end of 2003, three of the tracks had featured heavily on the airplay charts including "Blood and Smoke" which was released by Universal Records, with Miles Copeland's "ARK 21" label releasing "Wherever You Are" (a number 17 hit) and "Ecstatic Electricity". Rodney Crowell once referred to Holden as an Irish Bryan White and invited him to Nashville. He co-wrote the song "Wendy's World" with Crowell.

Holden left Riverdance in June 2003 and moved directly back to Broadway as the lead piano man in the Billy Joel/Twyla Tharp rock musical "Movin' Out". He was hand-picked for the job by Joel. He performed the role on Broadway for six months before originating the lead role for the US National Tour, which ran from January 2004 to January 2007.[1] He appeared on hundreds of early morning TV and radio shows during this period including NBC, FOX, ABC and CBS. The show also performed in Toronto and Japan.

In August 2006 he released a new CD called Roadworks, much of which he wrote himself. It was produced by Bryan Steele and Tommy Byrnes (Billy Joel,Stray Cats) The album was distributed by Columbia in Japan where after a huge TV/RADIO promotional campaign it sold in excess of 30,000 copies. The album sold a further 20,000 copies in the USA where it was a featured release at Best Buy and Target.

In addition to Paul Young, Belinda Carlisle, Bonnie Tyler and Uriah Heep, he has also worked with such bands and artists as Boyzone, B*Witched and Peter Andre and Backstreet Boys. His rendition of the US National Anthem has garnered such respect that he has even been invited to sing it for President George W. Bush at the Annual White House Christmas Pageant of Peace and Tree Lighting Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The High Kings[edit]

In June 2007, Holden was invited to become a member of The High Kings, a new Irish ballad group featuring Brian Dunphy, Finbarr Clancy and Martin Fury.

Their debut CD was released on EMI in February 2008 and hit No. 2 on the Billboard world music charts, as well as hitting the top spot on various Amazon Music Charts. It reached No. 7 in their native Ireland and has since been certified platinum. There have been three sold out tours of the USA and Ireland.[2]

Holden performed solo in March 2009 with The Kilkenny Gospel Choir, at St Mary's Cathedral, Kilkenny. He was most recently seen endorsing Optilase Laser Eye Clinic[3] in a TV advertisement for MTV, Sky TV, Channel 4, E4 and TV3. In August 2009, the Sunday World and Daily Mirror newspaper's reported that "Slash" was headhunting Holden to replace Scott Weiland as the new "Velvet Revolver" lead vocalist. Sources close to the LA based group confirmed that Holden had been in talks and material had been recorded.

Holden recently joined his former Boyzone pals, Keith Duffy and Mikey Graham on a charity mountain trek in Peru, to raise funds for Autism Action Ireland and, in October 2009, was back in the recording studio putting the finishing touches on the new High Kings album, which was slated for a 2010 release. Other deals would secure the use of his compositions by the games Rockband game and the newly issued Wii Fit Family Fun.

On 16 October, Holden attended the funeral of Boyzone friend Stephen Gately, along with members of Westlife, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jason Donovan, David Furnish, and various other figures from the entertainment world. Holden toured extensively with the Dublin group during 1995–97.

Holden attended the Keith Duffy Masquerade Ball with his wife Michelle on Saturday, 5 December in Dublin. He was a special guest performer on the night along with Aslan and Keith Barry.

On Monday, 7 December, entertainment.ie reported him having attended the funeral of Irish folk legend Liam Clancy in Waterford.

The "New York Post" rumor section claimed Holden held a backstage meeting with a musical director at prominent new Broadway musical Memphis on 1 December. Sources close to him have since denied any such meeting, stating he merely "popped in to say hi".

The High Kings brand new album "Memory Lane" was released on 12 February 2010 and rocketed to number 5 in the Irish album charts immediately, following another appearance on The Late Late Show, and further appearances on RTÉ 1 and TV3. Their 3rd National tour began on 21 February with most of the twenty-four dates selling out in minutes.

Holden has been mentoring brand new Irish ballad group "Na Fianna" on their quest to be The all Ireland talent Show champions.

On 25 February, Holden and his wife gathered with numerous industry friends including Keith Duffy, Keith Barry, and Rosanna Davison to bid farewell to celebrity optician and socialite Niall Mcrudden who died suddenly on 21 February.

Darren Holden is rumored to be in talks with an Irish TV channel about a possible appearance on a travel documentary, as of July this year.

The High Kings have completed their first US tour in almost two years, including dates in New York and Chicago.

On 9 October Holden was one of seven Irish celebrities to spend a week in Tanzania while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin. Other big names on the climb were TV presenters Sile Seoige and Kathryn Thomas, radio personalities Ruth Scott and Jenny Buckley and comedians Karl Spain and Alan Shortt. Holden completed the climb in 5 days and commented that "it was the most physically and mentally challenging week of his life". An RTÉ television documentary on the event was recorded for broadcast in 2011.

The documentary was shown on RTÉ 1 television on 18 July 2011 and ratings showed that in excess of 500,000 viewers tuned in.

The High Kings have been on their fourth sellout Irish Tour and released a charity single "Whiskey in the Jar" with 8-year-old Adam O'Sullivan, who suffers from a benign brain tumor, with all proceeds again going to Crumlin Hospital and Children's University Hospital, Temple Street. The song was launched with another appearance on The Late Late Show with Adam and Darren chatting to host Ryan Tubridy after the performance.

The High Kings have continuously been on the road touring "Memory Lane" in the last 12 months, taking in concerts in countries such as Ireland, UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway and the USA. they are currently working on a brand new album, due for release in late 2012.

On 11 July 2012, The Daily Star newspaper reported that Darren Holden is currently on an intense vocal course to combat a vocal fold nodule, that, if not addressed properly could have a drastic effect on his singing voice.

The High Kings are due to return to the USA in late July to perform at various summer festivals in the mid west and on the east coast.

Recently,[when?] Velvet Revolver drummer, Matt Sorum mentioned that the band had been talking about auditioning Holden again to be their new frontman, replacing Scott Weiland.

The album "Friends for Life" was released in 2013, and the opening track was a Holden original called "Oh Maggie", which became the most radio played and downloaded song from the album in Ireland, The UK and particularly Germany. The album reached number 5 in the Irish Top 40, Number 3 on Billboard Magazines World music chart. It was the first HK album to include the band's own songs, which many considered a daring move for their chosen genre. However, "Oh Maggie", "Irelands Shore" and "All Around the world" became stalwarts of the band's live show. The FFL tour lasted 2 years, taking the group to The UK, US, Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Sweden and another sold out Irish tour. In this time the media campaign for the group skyrocketed as they clocked up an immense amount of TV appearances around the world, including a major slot on "The Regis and Kelli Show" in New York. The show was broadcast coast to coast and the album's sales went through the roof.

Due to the successful performance of the album around the globe, the band recorded a live album and concert DVD titled "Four Friends Live". The show was recorded in Derry, and after Holden's performance of "The Town I Loved so Well", the entire audience rose in unison and gave a standing ovation for more than two minutes. The album has reportedly sold in excess of 100,000 copies since its release in November 2014.

The band launched the album on RTÉ TV's The Late Late Show with a performance of Macalpines Fusiliers.

The Four Friends Live Irish Tour from November 2014 through February 2015 was the group's fastest selling tour to date, with extra dates added to meet the demand.

During the tour, Holden added an old "Phil Coulter" penned song "Hand me Down My Bible" to the set, and asked Coulter to write an extra verse especially for him and HK. Coulter was thrilled that the group were performing his long lost classic, and gladly obliged within days of the request. The song is a highlight of HK concert tours since and will appear on the group's upcoming, as yet untitled album.

After reconnecting with Phil Coulter, Darren and the band were asked to sing a new version of "Irelands Call" for the Sony Music official Rugby World Cup album, and Darren was featured as the group's spokesman in a one-hour TV special on TV3, which delved into the song's illustrious history and provided an insight into the recording of the brand new version. It aired to an estimated television audience of 750,000 viewers.

In 2015, The High Kings have completed sold out tours of Ireland, UK, and a major US coast to coast trek which resulted in a Spring 2016 tour being pencilled in to an already overflowing diary.

The band hope to return to the studio in early 2016 to begin work on a brand new studio album.

February 2016 saw the band back in the studio to record their 4th studio album entitled "Grace & Glory". A decidedly back to basics effort, however with much sought after producers Chris O' Brien (Aslan, The Stunning, Something Happens) and Graham Murphy (Westlife) at the helm. The album's opener, with Holden on lead vocals, "Hand me Down my Bible" was a road tested winner, written by Phil Coulter, complete with a brand new 3rd verse given to the band especially at Holden's request. Schooldays Over, another Holden vocal is next, creating a 'Wham-Bam' effect and setting up the listener for what was to come. Schooldays had been recorded apparently, at the insistence of a friend of Holden's who convinced him it would be a hit. After performing the song on the mammoth RTE 100 year Rising celebration called "CENTENARY" and also yet another appearance on RTE'S "The late Late Show" the song immediately entered the Top 10 on various iTunes charts around Europe and the USA and became an immediate radio hit. Released on May 13, with songs such as 'Grace' 'Nancy Spain' 'Spancil Hill' and a foot to the floor version of 'Kelly from Killane', the album was a surefire hit across the board.

It hit number 3 in the Irish national Top 40 album chart and number 1 on the Independent chart. It also claimed the number 1 spot on iTunes charts across Europe and the USA.

The band have appeared at this years "Isle of Wight" and "Glastonbury" festivals to ecstatic reactions and an ever-increasing army of fans continues to develop.

The current single "Hand me down my Bible" released on June 24, is already playlisted on various radio stations and was recently filmed for the BBC at Glastonbury.

A US tour kicks off on July 27.

On July 1, Darren filmed an exclusive video to launch himself as the first Irish artist to play an acoustic guitar built especially for him by Donegal-based company "Emerald Guitars". The company reached out to Darren and presented him with the instrument before a High Kings show in Donegal. He is now an official ambassador for Emerald. The video went live on July 5, 2016.

The High Kings summer tour across America has far surpassed all previous tours, and the band have played to a far greater audience who have embraced the brand new album. "Hand me down my Bible" is the current single from "Grace & Glory" and is playlisted on countless radio stations in the USA and Europe. More than quarter of a million people have so far seen the group in the USA since July 27.

The High Kings performed the Irish national Anthem on August 31, 2016 for The Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas Missouri.

The group will headline the Kansas City Irish Festival on September 2 and 3. One of the world's largest Irish festivals.

In October the band were presented with a Number 1 selling Irish album award for 2016 from IMRO (Irish Music Rights Association) for "Grace & Glory" in recognition of extraordinary sales and airplay.

November saw them back on the road in Europe, playing sellout dates in Denmark, The UK and Germany. Cities included Copenhagen,London, Munich, Cologne, Hamburg and Stuttgart.

In December they will once again launch another trek across their native Ireland where the annual Christmas tour has now become a thing of legend.

The group wrapped up their annual winter trek around Ireland on January 28, 2017, having played 26 dates to more than 20,000 fans, making them one of Irelands most popular musical forces.

On January 30 at the "Sunday World Entertainment Awards" The High Kings were presented with the final award of the night. "Outstanding achievement in Irish Music around the world". This award was the icing on the cake of a phenomenally successful year.

TV3 quickly invited Darren Holden back to "The Six O' Clock Show" for a 4th time to discuss the award, along with "Mrs Browns Boys" stars Danny O' Farrell and Paddy Houlihan.

Holden is also gearing up to present some upcoming episodes of the SKY TV Channel 389 series "Keep it Country" which is broadcast in Ireland, The UK and the USA. He will interview some of his industry friends, as well as numerous singer/songwriters.

SKY recently reported that more than 100 thousand viewers tuned into all 4 episodes of "Keep it Country" with Holden in the presenters chair, and announced that he would be back for more episodes very soon. Amongst the guest stars on his show were Eurovision Song Contest legend Johnny Logan and singer songwriter Brian Kennedy.

The High Kings played to a sold out Drexel Hall in Kansas City on March 8 as part of their 2017 US tour. The Kansas City Star entertainment correspondent David Freese said that Darren Holden's vocal on "The Town I Loved so Well" was "nothing short of sensational". Standing ovations for Holden's version of this classic song continued across the USA throughout the tour, particularly in New York City on March 12 when the applause lasted more than 3 minutes according to The New York Times correspondent Jim Fuselli.

On April 28, 2017, Holden was once again front and centre on National Television, as he was invited to lead the panel on TV3's award-winning daytime show "The Elaine Show" hosted by Elaine Crowley. He was introduced to an estimated 300,000 viewers as "The High Kings leader". A tag which "The Evening Herald" suggested "has been gaining obvious momentum and apparition in recent years" whilst reviewing the episode.

Holden and The High Kings were recently rumoured to be reconvening at a Dublin city centre recording studio for an as yet undisclosed project.

On May 24, 2017, Holden was once again honoured by his home town of Mooncoin, in County Kilkenny, when he was invited to attend and present the "Student of the Year Awards" at his former secondary school "Collaiste cos Siuire". (High School) All of his former teachers and members of staff were present for the occasion alongside current principals and teaching staff. Many stories and memories were shared during a pre event lunch. Before the awards ceremony, Holden gave what was described as an inspirational speech to the students and received a stranding ovation afterwards. Also present on the day were Holden's parents, his sister, various journalists and photographers who covered the event for the media.

The Munster Express, Kilkenny People and Irish Times carried coverage of the event. He has now been invited back to both his former schools in Mooncoin since 2014.

The High Kings returned to the recording studio in May to record new material for an as yet undisclosed project. However industry insiders claim the band will release a 10-year anniversary compilation album later this year. It's also rumoured that the group are set to re-sign with Universal Records.

On August 24, Crashed records rereleased "Lady" by Darren Holden, marking the 20th Anniversary of its initial release in 1997. It was dedicated to the memory of Princess Diana. Originally a Top 20 single, the reaction from fans to the Holden penned tribute and video sent it to Number 3 on iTunes. The first solo chart placing for Holden since becoming a High King.

The band undertook the first leg their biggest US tour in August 2017, taking in New York City, Chicago,Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Waterloo, Kansas City and more and will return to the USA for the second leg on September 15. By the NYC date the band had become a 3 piece outfit after Furey departed 2 weeks into the tour. General reaction from the fans for the following shows with Holden, Dunphy and Clancy was unanimously positive with many commenting that the group was sounding 100% energised and charged.

On September 7, an official announcement heralding these changes was announced on the bands official social media sites.

The trio of Holden/Dunphy/Clancy returned to the USA in mid September to continue the tour to unanimous praise from fans and critics alike, however the groups management insisted on adding a replacement 4th member to the band for the Canadian shows in October. George Murphy was announced as a special guest for these shows.

A brand new Irish tour and "Best Of" compilation album celebrating 10 years of The High Kings was announced on October 16. The bands first date on this tour is on December 8 in Darren Holden's home town of Mooncoin, County Kilkenny. This show was completely sold out inside 24 hours and is officially the fastest selling concert in the bands history.

Media in the South East of Ireland jumped on this news and Holden was asked to talk about this show on KCLR 96FM on October 19.

Following the untimely death of Eamonn Campbell of legendary band The Dubliners on October 18, 2017, a heartfelt tribute from Holden was included in Irish and UK news bulletins, including BBC News, RTE News and Sky News, as well as The Irish Independent, The Sun and The Daily Mirror" newspapers.

On November 2 Holden appeared yet again on the TV3's "The Six O' Clock Show" marking his 6th appearance on the show. He talked all about The High Kings brand new album "Decade-The Best of The High Kings". The album was released on Friday November 3 and quickly rose to Number 1 on iTunes.

RTE Radio 1 began playing "The Town I loved So Well" and praising the direction the band took with this version, citing Holden as a superstar of the genre after one morning broadcast.

The band appeared on RTE TV's "The Ray Darcy Show" on Saturday November 4 in an all star tribute to Sharon Shannon. Other artists included were legendary Chieftains frontman Paddy Maloney, Mundy and Frances Black. They followed this appearance with another national TV slot on RTE 1 with a performance of "Red is The Rose" on The Afternoon Show. Holden and Dunphy then appeared once more on TV3's Six O' Clock show couch to talk about life on the road and the brand new album. "Decade" went straight to the top of the Irish album charts on November 10 and has stayed in the top 20 for 7 weeks.

The Decade Irish tour opened in Darren's hometown of Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny on December 8 and Holden has stated on his official Facebook page, that it was one of the most special nights of his life and career. The welcome received by him and the band was astounding. Video footage of Darren singing "The Rose of Mooncoin" showed him being overwhelmed by the audience singing every word in top voice with him. The Mooncoin GAA club presented Darren with a framed club hurling jersey to commemorate the event. Most of his family were in attendance on the night, including his beloved parents, brothers and sister, his wife and 3 children, 2 of whom joined him on stage for the last song. An official club statement said it was " A highly emotional and well deserved welcome home for this great ambassador for Mooncoin and Kilkenny for many years. The High Kings show at Vicar St, Dublin was another huge success on December 10, with a full house rising for numerous standing ovations on the night and a super charged crowd screaming for more by the shows end. Due to overwhelming demand, more dates have been added for this venue for 2018 and 2019. The tour rolled on through December to mostly sold out audiences and continued through the end of January 2018. The band returned to Germany for a 3 week sold out theatre tour in February 2018 to glittering reviews and the largest crowds they had played to there. Some fans traveled from as far away as Brazil, Argentina, Russia and Hungary to catch the band in concert.

After an All Star Caribbean cruise on which the band performed alongside artists such as Nathan Carter, Engelbert, Charlie Pride and more, they once again returned to the USA for the biggest Stateside tour yet. 18 out of 19 shows sold out completely making it a huge success and confirmation that The High Kings are now a big draw in America.

Holden was featured on much of the groups Press activities during the tour and also reportedly collaborated on 6 new songs with various writers around the world.

The band kicked off an Irish tour at the end of March and on April 5th Holden once again settled into the couch on TV3's Six O' Clock Show to chat about all the latest gossip surrounding him and the band.

On April 6th the band received the devastating news that their long time manager and founder Dave Kavanagh had passed away. Reeling from the shock, the band followed his wishes and the show went on. The payed a sold out Vicar St in Dublin on April 8th.

On April 9th, Darren and the High Kings joined hundreds of entertainment personalities at their managers funeral in Dublin.

Bono and The Edge from U2 sang " Love is all we have Left" from their new album, followed by The High Kings very poignant performance of The Parting Glass.

Spotted talking to Darren after the service was his former manager and current X-Factor judge Louis Walsh and Picture This manager Brian Whitehead.

On April 10, The Daily Mail, Irish Mirror, Irish Sun, Independent, Evening Herald and Irish Times all carried quotes from Holden and pictures of him with his wife at the funeral.

On May 29, Holden released an official statement from his Facebook page to deny rumours that he was to become the brand new frontman for legendary 80's pop group Spandau Ballet after the news broke on a Spanish radio station and website.

On June 7 Holden and The High Kings were nominated for Best Album at the Irish Post Awards at the INEC in Killarney.

The band were joined by Phil Coulter for a live performance of their hit "Hand me down my Bible" which was written by the songwriting legend. On Coulters request, Darren joined him at the end of the show to play accordion on his song "Thank Gog this was mu life".

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