Late father’s secret CD inspires Cork family tribute

Talented Cork siblings are giving their late dad Ross O'Connor the musical platform he never experienced.
Late father’s secret CD inspires Cork family tribute

Cara Cullen (far left) with uncle Roy O’Connor (second from far right) and Coben Cullen (far right) promoting their CD ‘Music Heals’ in memory of their late father, with Chloe Murphy and Alex Brady, fellow members of Cork City music project The Kabin.

A CORK kid known for singing with Ed Sheeran on the Late Late Toy Show has created a unique and inspiring tribute to his father who died just a year before the television appearance.

11-year-old Coben Cullen from Knocknaheeny sang with fellow Kabin Studio member Jamie Forde and Ed Sheeran as part of a group performance on the show last year.

Now, he and his 16-year-old sister Cara are making their family even more proud by giving late dad Ross O'Connor the musical platform he never experienced.

It all started after Cara and Coben's uncle Roy O'Connor stumbled on a CD they were unaware their father had recorded. Roy explained he had been cleaning out his brother's apartment when the astonishing discovery was made.

Members of the Kabin Studio in Knocknaheeny, Coben and Cara Cullen, Jamie Forde, Sophie McCarthy, Darren Stewart and Chloe Murphy, busking on Patrick Street recently.
Members of the Kabin Studio in Knocknaheeny, Coben and Cara Cullen, Jamie Forde, Sophie McCarthy, Darren Stewart and Chloe Murphy, busking on Patrick Street recently.

Garry McCarthy of GMCBeats, who mentors Cara and Coben as part of his musical initiative the Kabin in Hollyhill, brought the music to life to produce a memorial CD with a difference. It features 25 songs, one of which combines the three family members' voices, giving the illusion they are singing together.

Roy, Coben and Cara are now donating the proceeds they make from the CD to the Kabin Studio, Anam Croí and alternative education facility the Cork Life Centre. Roy spoke about how the idea began.

"I found the CDs only about three or four weeks after Ross had passed away," he said. 

"When I put it on the CD player I was amazed by how strong his voice was and the raw talent. We had no idea this CD even existed."

Garry McCarthy of GMC beats has been a huge support to Roy and his family.

"When I played the songs on the original CD for Garry he was blown away. We never knew Ross had recorded these songs when he should have been telling the world. It was brilliant to find it. I think we all balled our eyes out when we listened to it."

Roy said he feels his brother remains with them in spirit.

"I feel like Ross was with him on the night he sang with Ed Sheeran. There has been so many doors opening for Cara and Coben and I feel like Ross has something to do with that."

He explained why the charity element of the CD was so important to them.

"I really wanted to give back to the Kabin and the Life Centre because these are the organisations that could have helped Ross when he was a child. Anam Croí is also a very worthy charity."

He praised his niece and nephew adding: "They have used the pain to drive them forward both in their life and music. That's why they write. It's great to see them getting all these opportunities. I am blown away by what the Kabin has done for so many people. Their mum Martina has helped them a lot too. What she has achieved as a single mum is amazing."

The CD is a compilation of tracks including three originals penned by Ross O'Connor. Other songs on the album include a cover of Tracey Chapman's "Fast Car" performed by Cara. Coben also recorded an original rap called levitating and even designed art work featured on the CD.

The CDs are currently available to purchase in businesses around Cork's Northside. To find out more about locations where CDs can be purchased readers can contact the Kabin Studio's Facebook page

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