Curtis Walsh pictured with the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins.
Laois musician Curtis Walsh and his supportive family were "absolutely stunned" when Curtis recently won IMRO Christie Hennessy Song Contest 2017.
Curtis won the prestigious competition with the song he wrote himself called 'Perfect Rain'. The Portlaoise musician told the Leinster Express that he was just delighted to be in the top ten and get to experience the finals of the competition in Tralee.
"To be 100 percent honest I was so surprised, I did not expect it. I thought that the songwriters there were a lot better than me. I wrote that song in five minutes and don't get me wrong it has changed a lot since then, I changed up the lyrics and spiced up the piano a little bit but to me personally I don’t think that is my best song.
"We got that recorded as a demo a few months ago. It was the only one we had professionally recorded so we said we would put it in to the competition and see how we got on and it ended up getting to the top ten of the competition.
"We went in and I performed it, I was talking to a few of the other artists there. I ended up falling asleep on the table when they called my name around 12 at night.
"It was such a long day. I forgot I had my big puffy orange jacket on and played the song again with the big jacket on and then I was whisked outside with all the photographers," Curtis laughed.
Curtis said that he was absolutely stunned and grateful to win the coveted title of the IMRO Christie Hennessy Song Contest 2017 and the €1,000 prize.
Curtis's mother Rhoda has supported his dream to become a musician from a young age.
"If you read up on the other artists that were in the final ten, these were established singer/songwriters who have co-written famous songs. His career is only starting so it is great to have that title and to be known and taken seriously as a songwriter because that is his passion," Rhoda said.
This huge national competition is not the first time the Leaving Cert student has put himself out there and won top prizes.
He has also won The Academy Of Popular Music - Una Healy Scholarship and got to the final of Teen Star Competition twice in the last number of years.
Curtis who is originally from Clondalkin in Dublin, is managed by Milestone Management who also look after bands like The Riptide Movement and The Heathers.
The Portlaoise College student is always working on his national profile as a musician, playing at Michael D. Higgins' garden party at Phoenix Park in the summer, Electric Picnic and other festival stages around the country.
When he is not touring around Ireland playing to hundreds of people, Curtis plays his own songs and cover songs every Thursday night in Kavanagh's Pub Portlaoise.
He is steadily building a local and national fan base as he hopes to go "head on" into music when he finishes school.
"The crowd is starting to increase which is a good thing. I really want to thank PJ and Niamh Kavanagh for supporting me. When I started doing gigs I was really nervous," Curtis said.
For a 17-year-old Curtis has played on some impressive stages that musicians try for years to reach, including playing twice at Electric Picnic which he said he is very comfortable with now.
"I love the vibe of it, there is a huge mixture of people and you can play any type of music because there are so many people that are there for the music and you don’t have to play what's in the charts you can hope that the music you are writing works," he explained.
With such huge stages and competition titles under his belt his huge goal is to play his own sold out show at the Three Arena which seems within his reach as he goes from strength to strength.
His interest in music started at a young age when he was inspired by his Grandad.
"I got into music when my Grandad first bought me a guitar and I started playing when I was around seven or eight years old so I was plucking away at it and he was teaching me and then I started getting really interested in it, he started teaching me how to play chords properly.
"Me and my cousin Sean were in this band called 'Create' when we were around 11 years old. I was doing some backing singing for him and I started to really enjoy doing it.
"When I was in sixth class I remember I wrote a song about this girl it was the cringiest thing I ever wrote in my life and I seen a video on Facebook the other day and it said that I posted it about 7 years ago and I just deleted it there and then.
"Listening back to it was the cringiest thing ever but I have always had that interest to create my own music I have always liked playing covers but I have always wanted to make my own music too.
"In songwriting, my first stepping stone was when my Grandad died, that was the first time I put a lot of actual meaning into a song and from there on I kept writing. That song was called 'Clocks in Reverse'," he said.
At 17, Curtis has almost six years of musical experience under his belt. He is now a national prize-winning singer/songwriter with big plans to some day play at the Three Arena. Watch this space!