George Donaldson – the ‘voyager’ of Celtic Thunder
George Donaldson was a singer-songwriter from Glasgow, Scotland.
He was a member of Celtic Thunder and also a solo folk artist. He was well known for his interaction with his audiences and his strong, warm voice. He died aged 46 on 12 March 2014 after suffering a heart attack.
Donaldson was born in the East End of Glasgow and was brought up in a family of nine children. He inherited his love of music from his father and was a self-taught musician.
He played the guitar, banjo, bodhran, flute, mandolin and fiddle.
He named Christy Moore, Shane McGowan, Harry Chapin, The Proclaimers and Jim Croce as artists who have influenced him over the years.
From pubs to stadiums
Donaldson worked as a bus builder when he left school and started singing in pubs and clubs more than 20 years ago. Over the years he became well known in the vibrant Glasgow West End folk scene. He performed all over Scotland and the Scottish islands. He also toured Europe several times and was a big fan of German culture.
He performed on stage with Jim McCann of the Dubliners, and the legendary songwriter Phil Coulter, who he would later team up with when he joined Celtic Thunder. He also appeared on BBC Scotland and performed at high profile events such as the Glasgow West End Festival and Celtic Connections, also in Glasgow.
In 2000, Donaldson performed at Celtic Park in front of 65,000 Glasgow Celtic fans on the opening day of the Scottish football season.
Joining Celtic Thunder – singing for the president
In 2007, Coulter and music manager Sharon Browne held auditions for a stage show called Celtic Thunder. They were hoping to emulate the huge success of all female traditional group, Celtic Woman.
Having a laugh on stage with Celtic Thunder members
Donaldson was selected to be part of Celtic Thunder and the show was a massive hit. Following the success of the initial show, the group went on to release several albums and completed several hugely successful tours of North America. They performed in front of hundreds of thousands of fans. They even performed for US President, Barack Obama and the First Lady at the White House on St Patrick’s Day 2009.