Irish musician Jamie Duffy becomes global success with debut Solas, amasses 60 million plays on Spotify

Music fosters connections between many wonderful people. Significant talent exists in this world, and many inspirational musicians create unique and compassionate work. I want to be a musician who inspires generations to come.

  • 5 months ago
  • February 23, 2024
6 min read
Irish musician Jamie Duffy’s reached nearly one million monthly listeners on Spotify alone after the release of his debut song Solas. | Photo courtesy of Jamie Duffy Irish musician Jamie Duffy’s reached nearly one million monthly listeners on Spotify alone after the release of his debut song Solas. | Photo courtesy of Jamie Duffy
Irish musician Jamie Duffy | Photo courtesy of Jamie Duffy
Journalist’s Notes
Interview Subject
Jamie Duffy, an Irish musician from Glaslough in Monaghan County, Ireland, was a graduate student at Queen’s University Belfast who earned a degree in International Relations and Politics when he released his first single Solas. Jamie started playing the piano when he was nine years old and worked as a pianist at Castle Leslie. He became an overnight sensation when his debut song debuted on the charts.
Background Information
After the release of the song Solas, Jamie Duffy amassed nearly one million monthly listeners on Spotify alone. The song reached number one on the classical charts in the Netherlands and Kazakhstan. It garnered over 65 million streams and averaged 755,000 streams per week. The official video for Solas got 10 million views and his TikTok rose to 191,000 followers. In total, Solas has been viewed 54.6 million times.

GLASLOUGH, Ireland — My debut song Solas made me an overnight sensation. Sitting at home one day reading, I thought about the song. Solas in Irish means light. For me, Solas represents light and hope against the emotions I feel when considering the devastation taking place around the world. I always dreamed of working as a journalist and never considered becoming a professional musician. Yet, I turned into an overnight sensation with Solas.

Sometimes I wonder what to do with this crazy life change, but I remain committed to pursuing music throughout my life. Being a musician in the 21st Century feels like a blessing in disguise. Unlike in the past, we no longer wait for years to succeed, looking for work. In the time of social media and the internet, if you possess talent and put out soulful music people resonate with, success may come knocking at your door. My song Solas has that kind of soul.

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The morning after uploading Solas online, I was astonished to find it went viral overnight

At 14 years old, I began writing songs inspired by my family. I never considered sharing them; I simply recorded them on my phone. At 17, I took a job playing piano at Castle Leslie, continuing a family tradition in music. My grandmother DJ’d in the 1960s and music became a big part of our lives. She introduced me to music and supported my journey, listening to my songs. My parents also encouraged my creativity, and I started taking piano lessons.

Overnight, I composed Solas and decided to upload it online. I never took such a step before, and it remains difficult to say what drove me that evening. I woke up the following morning and witnessed something astonishing. The music resonated with and deeply touched people online. Social media played a significant role.

No one in my family heard Solas before I posted it online. When they listened to the song, my parents praised me. My grandmother, the tough one, pointed out one or two notes I could have improved. Still, she felt very happy and excited for me.

I soon discovered Solas became the most successful debut song on streaming platforms by an Irish artist since Hozier’s Take Me To Church. Solas amassed over 60 million plays on Spotify alone. Now, I have one million monthly listeners on Spotify, and my song clinched the number one spot on the classical charts in the Netherlands and Kazakhstan.  

Music fosters connections between many wonderful people. Significant talent exists in this world, and many inspirational musicians create unique and compassionate work. I want to be a musician who inspires generations to come and leaves behind music the people can remember.

Blending instruments and genres, musician modernizes Irish and classical music

As I pursued my personal projects and taught myself, honing my craft in music, no one knew me. Solas changed that. I experimented by blending classical and Irish music to craft a modern song. I believe the inclusion of traditional instruments in unexpected genres contributed to its success. A tin whistle infused folk elements in the composition, which I learned to play with my family. I suddenly realized how the fusion of genres could birth new styles of music.

Something as small as taking a video and uploading it online, opened doors to success and led me to start creating an entire debut album. Now, I eagerly anticipate giving shows around the world, looking forward to traveling different parts of the globe where my audiences reside.

My motivation comes from a desire to create music with fewer words; to tap into a universal language with the power to connect people. Drawing on various traditional and classical genres of music – infusing them with a modern twist – I create my own unique sound. Joy comes through the process and to my delight, this work resonates with people, eliciting a powerful response.

Putting my faith and passion into my creations, I shed my fear and put myself out there. Sitting in the comfort of my home making music, I am alone. No one sits nearby to give me feedback. The process makes it easy to resist overthinking a piece. I say, “This is okay,” or “This one isn’t great.” My process now resembles what I always did. The only difference is I made my work public, and the real, positive feedback came.

At home, my family pointed out the rising number of views on my video across YouTube, Spotify, and TikTok. Still trending, the experience feels like a dream. Others gain inspiration too; at least 50,000 times, people used my audio to create their own videos on TikTok.

I feel surprised when I consider how my music thrives globally. In one night, my life turned upside down. It feels strange to see Irish traditional and new-classical music trending on charts and Spotify, across diverse countries like Turkey, America, and France. It dawns on me, my music connects people from very different places, even when they do not understand the lyrics.

Though my musical career is just beginning, I feel no pressure to constantly produce good music. If people like it, great; but I do not feel motivated by success. Freedom in creating music, and enjoying the music I make, remains of utmost importance. Consequently, the listeners enjoy it.

22-year-old Jamie Duffy is a musician and songwriter who grew up in the small border village of Glaslough, Ireland. | Photo courtesy of Jamie Duffy

2023 proved a wonderful year for me. I collaborated with the Limerick Band Kingfishr on an acoustic rendition of their song Flower-Fire and released a song titled Eyrie, which I worked on with Swedish composer Peter Sandberg. It felt surreal when Sandberg expressed interest in collaborating, especially considering I had listened to this man’s soundtrack on Netflix’s Stranger Things. Having someone of his stature support me felt humbling and thrilling.

While I have a love-hate relationship with social media, I credit it for putting my music out there. When I am not playing shows, it remains the easiest way for people to know me and my music. My phone serves as a window where they can peak in at my work. While my debut single became a commercial hit, I feel as though I was simply in the right place at the right time. 

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