RuthAnne will ‘Remember This’ year for many reasons.
RuthAnne is a successful Irish songwriter and producer who has worked with some of the biggest names in pop music, but in recent times has also carved out a career as an artist in her own right.
Despite the worldwide pandemic, RuthAnne (aka Ruth-Anne Cunningham) has had a busy year, between working on her solo music, writing with major artists and kicking off the phenomenon that has been Irish Women In Harmony.
Donaghmede native RuthAnne enjoyed her first international chart success as a songwriter in her late teens when a song she co-wrote, JoJo’s Too Little Too Late, reached No 3 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Since then she has built a hugely successful career as a songwriter, working with high profile artists such as Britney Spears, Niall Horan, One Direction and Westlife.
Having decided that it was time to step out of the studio and start releasing her own material, RuthAnne released her debut solo album, Matters of the Heart, little of a year ago.
“Normally when I am writing with or for another artist, especially when I have the artist in the room with me, I am trying to help tell their story.
“A lot of the time I can relate to their story and when I am in the room with them I am kind of a therapist trying to pull the best out of them and write the best song – that’s my job. Whereas when I write my own music I have to be my own therapist and talk about my own story and be a bit more vulnerable.”
“When Niall [Horan] is singing no one is wondering if it’s my story they’re listening to. When it’s me singing lyrics I wrote, it’s definitely a bit more vulnerable, as I am putting my own thoughts and stories out there. But luckily everyone has reacted really positively and it has taught me to be authentic and honest in my own music.
“I wrote this album (Matters of the Heart) by accident. I just wrote what was really in my heart and everyone who was hearing it said ‘this is you, no one else can sing these songs’.
“So I decided to start releasing and touring as an artist. It has really been amazing and it felt fulfilling to write songs, but also to get to perform, as well. It was a really nice time to do that.
“Obviously this year the pandemic hit and we had no shows, but at least I got a taste of it before the pandemic hit.” she said.
But while she hasn’t been able to perform, or tour, RuthAnne has not been resting on her laurels, continuing to work with major artists, working on her upcoming second (mini) album, producing a big Irish project, and releasing her latest single (Remember This) in October.
“I released a soft cover in January, but I hadn’t really released anything since my album came out in October last year so this is the first one from my new album, so that was really exciting.”
“I wrote it (Remember This) a while ago before lockdown and then rediscovered it during lockdown. With everything I had going on this year it really spoke to me and I thought I have to release this as the first song from my new album.”
Speaking from her London home, RuthAnne said her new song is about embracing the moment, celebrating the smaller victories and any time you get to have with your loved ones.
“It’s also about being present in the moment. Before all of this, we were just so busy and the pandemic really hit home what’s important.
“The song is about embracing your memories and the good times that you have with people, and looking after your relationships, first and foremost.
“I’ve been getting lovely feedback on the new song, so I am really happy with how it’s been going. It’s been nice to get back to releasing music.”
RuthAnne has also been stepping into the role of producer more in 2020, including on a project very close to her heart.
Having spent many years living and working on the West Coast in the United States, RuthAnne started delving back into the Irish music scene when she moved closer to home and was spending a lot more time in Ireland again.
She said: “I started discovering all these amazingly talented Irish women and what made it even crazier was I was wondering why they weren’t more well-known in Ireland and getting played on the radio more.
And so, earlier this year, RuthAnne started contacting some of the finest talent in Ireland to produce a song in aid of charity, but also celebrate the incredible female artists this country has to offer, in what was a real passion project for her.
The final result was Irish Women In Harmony, a collective which has since its formation released two songs, a cover of The Cranberries’ Dreams (in aid of Safe Ireland) and their latest, original Christmas single, Together at Christmas (in aid of ISPCC).
RuthAnne said: “With Irish Women In Harmony, that was a challenge. I produced that myself and it was really nice to take the reins as a producer and be able to step into that role a bit more. I think lockdown definitely pushed me to do that.
“I had no idea it was going to become what it has, this brand, this community. I wanted to do something with female artists in Ireland and I wanted to highlight the amazing talent that’s there, and the thriving scene, as well as raise much-needed funds for charity.
“The fact that during one of the darkest times for all of us, Irish Women In Harmony became such a light at the end of the tunnel, and we raised so much money and awareness for Safe Ireland, really did make this year a much better one… and I gained 40 new friends!”
“We’ve really been enjoying having Moya as part of our tribe. She is such a trail blazer. Her own story is so inspiring, as well as the fact that she stands up for female artists in Ireland and came on board and wanted to help make a difference. She’s an absolute legend!
“Eve Belle is also amazing. I love her voice so much and she is such a joy to work with. It’s amazing to have her part of Irish Women In Harmony. I feel like she’s only really beginning and we’re going to hear from Eve Belle a lot more in the future. She’s such a star.”
Irish Women In Harmony have now performed on RTÉ’s Late Late Show on two occasions, but weren’t able to bring all members along, or be close to each other, given government restrictions at the time of the live performances.
The two performances we have done we haven’t been able to be closer than two metres to each other and we haven’t been able to have musicians with us, touch or hug, or have a vibe on stage.
“To be able to perform together at all in the midst of this pandemic was still special though, even if we had to have less artists and had to stay apart from each other. That was really challenging. But we pulled it off for the time that’s in it,” she said.
“So I have to say I am looking forward to the time when we get to perform these songs fully together as a big group.
“In the meantime, we hope lots of people help us raise much-needed funds for ISPCC and let’s get an Irish act to the Christmas Number 1, which hasn’t happened in a very long time.”
The Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny is proudly funded by Donegal County Council and Arts Council Ireland.