Hughie‘s family roots in Glengarry go back to the late 1790s. He grew up with eight sisters and five brothers on the family farm near Martintown. His father, William, had a great influence on Hugh, teaching him to play the guitar at the age of six. His siblings recall that there was always music in the house and their mother, Margaret Kennedy, frequently would dance with the children in the kitchen.
Hugh‘s first public performance was competing as a young child at the Martintown Church Social where he took first place. He followed this up by winning the CJOH Radio contest called “Take a Bow.” His desire to entertain through music led him to play with a local band, The Tartans and later to help found The Dorney Express. He was not adverse to touring the county as a soloist and was ready with his guitar to sing at all opportunities. In1979, Hughie married Colleen and moved to the Maritimes where they raised a family of two sons and a daughter.
Many of the ballads Hughie composed speak of events in his native county. Examples of these are found in his album Dreaming of Home and songs Heart of the Kitchen and Shopping at Frenchys. What the Heck certainly defines the Sunday afternoon of many a Glengarrian!
His CD, Keeping it All in Tune, produced in 2007 at Lakewind Studios consists of 10 tracks, six of which were composed by Hughie. It won the Lunenburg Folk Festival songwriters’ contest. He is a member of ECMA, CCMA and MIANS MUSIC.
His ability was recognized by such artists as Valdy, Lennie Gallant, John Allan Cameron and Natalie MacMaster, all of whom have invited him to open their shows. His ability to appeal to an audience is evident by his appearances in the Maritimes as well as eastern Ontario and Quebec and his native Glengarry.
Hughie McDonell continues the tradition of Glengarry singers from the past with his love of music and desire to entertain. Hughie is a musician, a songwriter and a promoter as he does not hesitate to write and sing songs which relate his fond memories of his home, Glengarry County.