Declan J Donovan

Every artist remembers their first performance. Maybe it was a first on slot playing to a room containing no-one but a sound engineer and two bar staff, or a rabid house party packed with mates, or a hushed open mic night in front of other hopeful musicians. It gets seared in the memory, an act of importance from whichever angle it’s viewed. For 22-year-old Essex singer-songwriter Declan J Donovan, it’s worth even more than that. It’s an event that altered the course of his life, that both made him reconsider his past and propelled him forward.

Donovan’s wasn’t your usual debut gig. It was 2016 at his brother’s wedding, and Declan was best man. He’d been playing guitar for a few years and had recently started writing his own songs. Despite the fact he’d never sung in public before, he came up with a novel idea to avoid doing the traditional speech: he’d write an ode for the newly married couple and perform that.

It was the worst and best day of his life. He spent the day petrified, unable to talk to anyone, but the song he unveiled that evening, Fallen So Young, changed his life. “I played the song and everyone was in tears,” he says. “I was in shock. It was my first time singi

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