Singer/songwriter, Raymond McCullough is from Co. Down, near Belfast, Northern Ireland, and has been writing songs since 1973. He plays guitar – "a George Lowden acoustic/electric; actually!" – bass, mandolin, bodhran and, now and then, a little bit of keyboard.
He has travelled and performed in Israel, (on one occasion literally singing for his supper!), China (Beijing), Canada, USA, Scotland and Ireland, north and south – playing pubs, concerts, churches – on the street, if required! At the Rostrevor ‘Fiddler’s Green International Festival’ in Ireland recently he was described by one of the organisers as "the discovery of the festival!"
He travelled to the People's Republic of China in 1999 – their anniversary year – to take part in a charity cycle event, organised to raise funds for MenCap. "Friends said just because I'd gone to China, I didn't need to make a song about it – of course, that’s exactly what I DID do!" he says. The 11-verse saga, ‘Ballad of Beijing’, unfolded bit by bit over the two weeks he spent there.
"As we flew over the Mongolian mountains into Beijing, I just happened to be talking with the beautiful Irish girl who had the seat next to me – about my music, of course! – when a little tune came into my head and sort of stuck there. I later added a traditional Chinese rhythm, which I heard performed every afternoon on the streets of Beijing, on Taiko drum and two cymbals – and the words just seemed to write themselves!"
When he returned home he spent the best part of the next month in the studio, just recording that one song – he nearly drove the engineer mad! He then spent the next month adding another three to make up the mini album, ‘The great China Bike Ride’.
Raymond has had a very varied career; including lecturing in computing, selling French perfume, running an Internet cafe, publishing a magazine and several books, hosting his own radio show, producing TV, podcasts and corporate video, and restoring his own classic wooden boat.
He has been a professional writer since 1988, beginning with technical articles and reports for UK computer and publishing magazines, then publication of the Irish Christian magazine, ‘Bread’, from 1990-96, with his first book, ‘Ireland - now the good news!’ in 1995 (published in Kindle edition, May 2012); co-edited by his wife, fiction author, Gerry McCullough. He has also had articles published in the Irish Times, Dublin, and the Presbyterian Herald, Belfast.
In 1993 he hosted a radio show, ‘In tha Name a' Gawd!’ on 96.7 BCR, in Belfast, which later developed into his current satellite radio show of music, news and faith-based interviews – broadcasting around the world on several satellite networks. From 1996, for seven years, he and Gerry led a cell-based Christian fellowship in the Belfast area –also producing an album of Celtic & Hebrew worship music, ‘Into Jerusalem’ (2005) and a Celtic pop-folk album, ‘Different’ (2008).
In 2004 he set up Precious Oil Productions – a media production company, (now incorporated as a Limited Company). POP are currently raising funding to film a new TV documentary – linking Scots/Irish settlers, Native Americans and Israeli Jews! Several other TV and radio productions are also in the pipeline.
His second album, ‘Into Jerusalem’, is now available here and on , CDbaby, etc. It contains twelve Celtic and Hebrew worship songs, written by Raymond, and varying from rock, to Celtic, (Scottish, Irish, Bluegrass, folk/rock), to Jewish-style songs. some reviews and comments are already available.
In 2008, he began Celtic Roots Radio – a 30-minute show of Celtic, folk, folk-rock, Breton, Galician, bluegrass, Cajun, Cape Breton, acoustic and singer/songwriter music, now broadcasting on satellite, webcast and iTunes podcast to more than 100 countries around the world – with around 18,000 downloads/month via iTunes – and syndication beginning on FM stations in Ireland and beyond. In April 2009, Raymond also set up a 24/7 Celtic Roots Radio web station on the Live365 network (now on fastcast4u.com), which now has a playlist of over 800 tracks, from more than 400 individual artists and bands.
His Kingdom Come Trust website has hundreds of enthusiastic emails from satellite radio listeners in US, Canada and Caribbean countries. Raymond says, ‘They love the Irish music and culture – although the interviewees are from many parts of the world.’.
Since 2011 he has become the publisher of his wife, Gerry McCullough’s fiction novels and short-story collections – fifteen titles to date – eventually taking over and re-publishing her first, and best-known, novel, ‘Belfast Girls’. He has also become an author of several non-fiction books and, more recently, his apocalyptic fiction series, ‘In Six Hours’ and the sequel, ‘In One Hour’.
In October 2011 he published the ‘craic’ from his Celtic Roots Radio scripts as, A Wee Taste a' Craic, and is working on a TV documentary, filmed mainly in Canada, entitled, Broken Treaties. Raymond recently completed production of a series of half hour broadcasts for satellite radio (Fresh Bread: Your Kingdom Come), based on The Whore and her Mother (also available on iTunes podcast and in Audiobook format from iTunes, Amazon and Audible).
Raymond researched the subjects for his non-fiction book,The Whore and her Mother for about forty years, off and on, but the events of 9/11 brought a new focus to his research and a real sense of increasing urgency encouraged him to complete the book in just four months!
He then decided to turn the events described in The Whore and her Motherinto an apocalyptic fiction thriller trilogy, the Six Hours series – book #1, In Six Hours ... the world changed (April 2015) and book #2,In One Hour ... Babylon will fall (September 2019).
Full page (A3) interview with Raymond in
Country Music Round Up magazine (UK)
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