Andrew James O’Brien and Catherine Allan show their onstage chemistry during a recent performance. Known as the Fortunate Ones, the pop-folk band will perform at a sold out concert at the Mack in Charlottetown later this month.
Anyone who attended East Coast Music Week in Charlottetown in 2014 might remember the Fortunate Ones performing on the Newfoundland-Labrador showcase stage.
Comprised of Catherine Allan on vocals, keys and Andrew James O’Brien on vocals, guitars and percussion, their sincerity and simplicity instantly connected them with audience members.
The pop-folk duo was just starting out.
And their sweet harmonies made for a memorable evening.
From these early beginnings until now, band members have taken some giant strides.
After picking up Dan Ledwell, an award-winning record producer, they recorded their debut album, “The Bliss” at his studio in Lake Echo, N.S.
Then, after sitting on it for about a year, it was released on Old Farm Pony Records, the label founded by singer-songwriter Rose Cousins.
“Our team members made us realize how much work it takes to get it on the national scene, like we wanted to. And that’s what I think made it flourish,” says Allan.
With the country watching, the album gave them the break they needed. Two songs, “Lay Me Down” and the title track, “The Bliss” reached No. 1 on CBC Radio 2’s Top 20 in 2015.
The 11-track CD also received positive reviews from across the country.
“There are contemporary touches on the album’s sound, but the emotional honesty we expect from Newfoundland artists is certainly audible here,” states Kerry Doole from newcanadianmusic.ca. “O’Brien released an earlier solo album, the ECMA-nominated 2011’s ‘Song For Searchers’, and it hinted at the potential realized here.”
With so many good things happening for them, Allan has been counting her lucky stars.
“The stars have really aligned for us ever since we released our album. We’ve been super lucky. We’ve also been working really hard.”
They’ve also been counting their blessings.
“We’ve been really fortunate to work with some really awesome people who have supported us. So we’re really lucky and really excited about the things that are happening to us,” says the singer/ accordion player, adding the Fortunate Ones is thrilled to be returning to Charlottetown to play a sold-out show at The Mack on Thursday, Jan. 21.
Besides being band mates, the musicians are a romantic couple. O’Brien was previously a solo artist, releasing his album, “Songs for Searchers” in 2011 with Allan one of the backup singers. The album won him three Newfoundland and Labrador awards.
Allan has a degree in French studies from Memorial University and has also worked as a flight attendant.
“It’s really wonderful to work together. We see every side of each other, the good, the bad and the ugly. Luckily we work really well together and we have different roles so we stay out of each other’s hair,” says Allan, with a laugh.
Sally Cole is an entertainment writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 902-629-6000, ext. 6054.
- Who: Fortunate Ones.
- Story behind name: One of 15 names that the duo was considering. “Our friends liked it and thought it defined how we felt about what we do. And it’s so true, not everybody gets to do what we do for a living. So it paints a picture of what we do,” says Catherine Allan.