Dance-music queen Tara McDonald wants to transition into a pop career
Many dance music fans may not recognise Tara McDonald’s name, but they will certainly recognise her voice.
The British artist has been a singer and songwriter of choice for many of today’s leading dance DJs, including David Guetta, Axwell and Armand Van Helden.
Her soulful vocals have delivered the hooks for chart-topping tracks such as Guetta’s 2007 hit Delirious, Axwell’s Feel the Vibe (2006) and Van Helden’s My My My (2005).
McDonald is set to bring those hits, as well as some original tunes, to Chinawhite Dubai on Thursday.
“I really can’t wait to get down there and party with all of you,” she says. “It’s going to be a fun night full of energy.”
From stage to the club
Unlike most of her peers, McDonald recalls growing up in a household bereft of musical inspiration.
“No one in my family was in the arts at all – my father was a van driver and my mother a secretary,” she says.
“All I knew as a child was that I wanted to sing but didn’t know how go to about it.”
Her opportunity came at the age of 9, when she was picked from an open audition in London for the role of Éponine in a West End production of Les Misérables.
This led to other theatrical roles and an eventual transition to the music world as a multi-skilled performer.
She fronted her own soul band and was a backing dancer in several music videos, including dance act Karen Ramirez’s Looking for Love, and I’ll House You by hip-hop duo The Jungle Brothers.
“It is important for me to do different things as I really wanted to [build] a strong foundation to have a long career,” she says.
“That is really what I want, to work in a lot of aspects of the music industry.”
Sharing the limelight
The accumulated experience helped McDonald when it came to her songwriting. Her experience in knowing what works in the clubs helped her score writing and vocal collaborations with some of some of the world’s leading dance-music acts. With many dance DJs being fiercely competitive, McDonald describes working with Guetta on Delirious as one her most satisfying collaborations.
“Not every DJ or producer wants to share the spotlight,” she says. “But David is different. He is lovely and genuine and is happy to put the singer out there. We had a great time recording and touring together.”
A debut album
McDonald is now gearing up for her biggest challenge yet – the release of her debut solo album. She has already released two singles – Give Me More and Shooting Star – and is preparing to put out her latest track, Vay Kay, featuring the hip-hop star Snoop Dogg.
She says she wants the album to branch out from dance music towards more pop-friendly territory. But being a solo artist comes with new challenges.
“When it is your own project, you are critiquing it more,” she says. “When it is for someone else, you can let it go. I have to pretend that I am working for someone else and not myself.”
• Tara McDonald performs on Thursday at Chinawhite Dubai, Grand Hyatt Dubai, Sheikh Rashid Road, Oud Metha, at 10pm. For more information, call 056 175 1010 or email email@example.com