Through trauma, some of the best art takes shape, and that’s nowhere more apparent than with Jessica O’Donoghue’s latest offering, “Lullay My Heart.” With vocal talent that rivals even the best singers, the singer-songwriter puts it all out on the line with this new single, inspired by the passing of her father, the acclaimed Australian actor and musician Rory O’Donoghue. Rory was revered in his homeland, well known since his youth when he was a child actor and then as a teen when he became a musician.

Despite his exceptional talents, Rory suffered from depression for much of his life and committed suicide in 2017. Like all great artists, Jessica took what she was feeling inside and directed it toward her art, with the result being “Lullay My Heart.” Initially, the results were less than stellar, with no real inspiration incoming. Maybe it was because it was too soon after, or perhaps she was still in shock, but after several days of sticking with it, that needed spark was lit, and she began to hash out the song, letting her feelings and subconscious guide her to where she wanted to go.

Discussing her father and his passing, Jessica states:

“My family growing up was wild, fun and very different to those around me, but it really is that old cliche that you don’t know what you really have until it’s gone. Rory O’Donoghue was so many things to so many people: Thin Arthur, whacky sidekick to Australian icon Aunty Jack, Australian musical legend in his own right, award winning composer, guitar virtuoso, a cherished music teacher.

“When he died, I received so many messages from people about how he moved and changed their lives through his music, and of course that is also hugely true for me. But above all else, he was my Dad. And I know it sounds strange to hear, but I truly believe this song is his gift to me, to all of us, and I always feel so close to him when I play it. It has been a great privilege to grow up surrounded by Dad and his music, and what makes this song even more special is that it features my amazing brother on bass guitar. A true family song.”

Discussing the challenges of mental health in the arts, Jessica adds:

“It would be remiss of me to tell this story and not speak to the challenges Dad faced with complex mental illness. Although we have told this story before, for the majority of Dad’s life, in fact right up until the last weeks before he ended his life, it was a secretive burden that we carried within the family, and not even his closest of friends knew of his ongoing challenges. Along with my siblings, we want to do what we can to break down the stigma surrounding complex mental health. There is so much to navigate for individuals and their caregivers when facing illness such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and other complex conditions, additional shame and secrecy is too heavy a burden to carry.”

It’s been a productive period for Jessica, with “Lullay My Heart” coming soon after her latest full-length album, Rise Up, this past fall. That album has proven to be the most ambitious piece of music she has released yet, with nine tracks of electronics, rich vocal harmonies, synths, and operatic elements intertwined. Jessica is a classically trained musician who had the privilege of studying at Sydney University, the Victorian College of the Arts, and London’s Covent Garden. This education exposed her to different eras of opera, medieval forms of music, modern and classic pop, jazz, and cabaret.

Through this exposure, Jessica has developed her unique sound, calling it “Post-Baroque Dramatic Pop,” a term meant to encompass the operatic influence in her life and the apparent impact of pop music on her work. She is a rare and unique artist, able to combine diverse musical spaces, have them sound more than coherent, and conjure up her very own style of music.

Jessica O’Donoghue “Lullay My Heart” single artwork
Jessica O’Donoghue “Lullay My Heart” single artwork